Johnson remained the entertainer while Gove sold his integrity and his friends

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove managed to win it all and lose it all in an exact week – the ‘all’ in question being their personal standing.

The partnership ended in an almost mythical act of betrayal by one of the other, by Gove of Johnson, deciding, close to the actual eleventh hour, to ditch the Johnson campaign – of which he was Chair – and to stand for the Conservative leadership himself.

Gove did not inform Johnson of his decision but did inform Johnson’s campaign manager, Lynton Crosby – five minutes before announcing that he was running himself.

Crosby will of course have informed Johnson but the lack of courage and common courtesy in Gove’s failure to face Johnson directly would indicate his shamefacedness at his own action; and his moral measure, which has deservedly wizened and shrunk.

The omnipresent weasel in politics has led Gove’s campaign Chair, Lord [Francis] Maude, to try to contradict the fact that Gove did not inform Johnson by saying to Adam Boulton of Sky News: ‘No. I understand that Johnson was informed.’ Johnson will indeed have been informed  – by Crosby; and Maude did not, of course, say that he understood that Gove had informed Johnson.

Of the pair of Brexit carpetbaggers, the universal view of each at the start of their takeover of the Leave campaign was that:

  • Johnson was an opportunist and a likeable entertainer, simultaneously scholarly and populist;
  • Gove was a bit of a nerd, ‘clever’, intellectual and a man of principle.

It was obvious to anyone with any acuity that neither was a natural team player.

Tonight Boris Johnson’s character remains intact but rather graced by the manner in which he dealt with his unforeseeable political assassination. Transparently opportunist, he remained an entertainer to the last.

He held [late] the expected press conference to launch his campaign.

He delivered the speech he had planned to validate his candidacy for the leadership [which later served as a memorandum on his achievements].

His audience were preparing to applaud his declaration as he began on his closing sentence.

‘To those of you have waited faithfully for the punch line to this speech, after consultations with colleagues and in the light of the current circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that the next leader of the Conservative Party … cannot be me.’

And that was it. Even his core supporting MPs had no idea this was coming. Some were more than close to tears.

As an exit, it will be unforgettable in style, succinctness, impact, wit – and grace.

That is no bad footnote in time.

As for Gove, there is nothing whatsoever to commend him to history, other than as the prompt for the theatrical coup of Johnson’s last  stand.

As the joker in the pack, Johnson deceived in the Brexit campaign as any busker deceives – with style over substance, known never to be particularly careful with facts.

As the partner in exit alleged to be bright, a devil for detail and principled, Gove knowingly deceived – lied – throughout the campaign under the cover of his intellectual reputation and assumed principles.

Of the two, this is the more culpable deceit.

The man held most worthy of trust is the greater betrayer in stooping to deceive.

Johnson was never, during the Brexit campaign or in the approaches to the leadership contest in which he will not now take part, unpleasant or unkind about any individual.

Gove, on the other hand, could hardly wait this morning to validate his sudden decision to run under his own colours by dissing Johnson as lacking the ability to form and lead the sort of team the country needs to see it through Brexit – painting him as a sort of Billy no mates.

The reality appears to be more that Johnson cavilled at delivering mates rates for the cabinet positions supporters support in order to acquire.

In terms of competence to lead the country into Brexit – it should not be forgotten that Gove, no more than Johnson, had prepared no plan whatsoever to take the UK forward in the aftermath of a win for the Brexit camp.

No one should have expected Johnson to have done the hard yards of preparation for so serious a prospective event – but it has been a genuine shock to discover that Gove had not bothered to plan ahead either.

And if Gove backed Johnson’s leadership ambitions until they closed with reality – what does that say of the soundness of his  perspicacity and judgment?

So tonight, Johnson is what he has always been, an entertaining busker who loves an audience to charm; and Gove is stripped of the mask of integrity and principle, capable of treachery and seen to have been conniving with his scheming wife for personal advantage.

As for Britain? We’re still on the way out of the European Union, thanks to this pair of chancers.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Journalist Isabel Oakeshott has just told Sky News’ late night press review that last night, Michael Gove’s team took away from the campaign office, Boris Johnson’s list of supporters – a shared list both used, with Gove the Chair of the Johnson leadership campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    newsroom June 30, 2016 10:48 pm Reply
    • Journalist Isabel Oakeshott has something in common with the Honourable Michael Gove MP, Minister for Justice (haha) – having once shafted one of her sources, the genuinely decent Vicky Price, who served a prison sentence as a result.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      Robert Wakeham July 1, 2016 12:13 am Reply
      • She did indeed – with disastrous personal consequences also for Pryce’s friend, the now former Recorder, Constance Briscoe who was jailed as well.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        newsroom July 1, 2016 12:31 am Reply
  • The Baffoon and the weasel led us over the cliff
    Corbyn and friends so deluded, a spliff?
    Take back control, it was said we should do
    Is this what it look like? it looks a bit poo.
    Nicola charges in, her white horse stands proud,
    EU minister say, Non, that’s not aloud.
    David where are you, all is forgiven
    All we need now is Cleggy back biddin’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    Jerry McIver July 1, 2016 8:44 am Reply
  • Never has politics been so entertaining – I say bring back Spitting Image 🙂

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Sian Laidlaw July 1, 2016 8:57 am Reply
    • I’m so glad you find it entertaining.Due to the ineptitude of our Imperial Masters,many will loose their jobs and the economy will be trashed.
      You are easily pleased.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

      A.Salmon July 1, 2016 9:34 am Reply
      • Thats what happens when you exit a stable functioning union, however imperfect and choose an utterly unknown path, where none of the critical issues have been worked out and agreed beforehand, isn’t it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        Jerry McIver July 1, 2016 10:25 am Reply
    • Now there’s a thought.. ‘Spitting Image’… A tad too late tho’ I fear…

      An acceptable substitute is, IMO, “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver (Sky Atlantic)….. Touch of TWTWTW for those with long memories…!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Ian Sanderson July 1, 2016 9:53 am Reply
      • Such a shame ‘Spitting Images’ ran out of spit – how about a one-off, based on the current events, called ‘Spiffing Idiots’?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham July 1, 2016 11:02 am Reply
  • It’s never a good idea to judge politicians by their rhetoric, rather than their actual record.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Arthur Blue July 1, 2016 9:03 am Reply
  • Not quite too late for a “Spitting Image” remake, indeed one of the original puppets, Michael Heseltine’s, could still be of use today. His anti Brexit performance yesterday was a classic of narcissistic arrogance as he worked himself into a first class tizzy because people did not agree with his lofty views. And the BBC (of course) gave this failed buffoon ample air time to blether.

    A few more wrinkles added to his papier mache alter ego and we’d have enough to fill an entire episode.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    S.White July 1, 2016 8:12 pm Reply
    • We’ll have to agree to differ, Stuart – there’s only one ‘failed buffoon’ in politics just now, to my mind.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham July 1, 2016 9:33 pm Reply
  • I was referring to the original cast of the programme, not the current crop of emperors without a stitch on’

    There are now far too many of these creatures to make such a programme possible, and in any case parody and ridicule doesn’t affect them any more (if it ever did). Only the blunt force of a metaphorical brick applied to their heads seems to work. And this brick came in the form of a referendum. Oh how they squirm. As corporal Jones would have put it “they don’t like it up ’em”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    S.White July 2, 2016 3:33 am Reply
    • I wonder of a political version of a driving licence could work, with points taken off for lying to the electorate?
      A certain number of points, and your licence to practice politics is cancelled.
      Sorry, Boris J, Michael G, Bernard J, Jacob R-M, Ian D-S, Andrea L, George O – and that’s just a few, and just in Westminster (let alone Holyrood, or – heaven forfend – Kilmory)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham July 2, 2016 10:56 am Reply
      • Oops – I forgot to include Liam F.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham July 2, 2016 1:33 pm Reply
  • Gove for Prime Minister is a non-starter.
    His line only four years ago, “I’m not equipped to be PM” will come back to haunt him. Only four years has elapsed since this enlightenment so how has he acquired the ‘equipment’ in such a short period. The equipment I suspect he was referring to might be best explained by himself in the following quotes –
    “No, I’m constitutionally incapable of it. There’s a special extra quality you need that is indefinable, and I know I don’t have it. There’s an equanimity, an impermeability and a courage that you need. There are some things in life you know it’s better not to try.”
    “I don’t have what it takes… I have seen David close up on a variety of occasions: he just has an equanimity and a stamina, a sense of calm, good judgment… The pressure of the job is phenomenal and it takes a toll on you and your family and I don’t think I could do that.”
    ” I don’t know what I can do in a way but if anyone wants me to sign a piece of parchment in my own blood saying I don’t want to be prime minister, then I’m perfectly happy to do that.”
    Instil confidence anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    JnrTick July 2, 2016 5:17 pm Reply

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