Operation Save Big Dog has finally imploded. Chaos is breaking out on Downing Street, with Boris Johnson’s future hanging in the balance.
“On the brink”; “hanging by a thread”; “last chance saloon”: these are just a small selection of the frontpage headlines on the Tory newspapers today, describing Johnson’s plight.The Scum, for once, put it well: “Boris knifed in day from hell”.
The resignation of two prominent cabinet members – Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, formerly the chancellor and health secretary, respectively – has set off an avalanche of departures from Johnson’s frontbench, leading to open civil war within the Tory Party.
At the time of writing, there are three factions airing the government’s dirty laundry in public: an ever-growing number who have already quit in protest; a rebellious group remaining in the Tory cabinet who are also calling on Boris to go; and those sticking by their beleaguered leader to the bitter end.
Throughout all the sleaze and scandal that have enveloped his administration, Johnson has remained determined to cling on. But with even senior Tories like Michael Gove now turning on him, and his government effectively paralysed, it seems that Boris has finally run out of road.
Whether he leaves quietly, or is pushed out kicking and screaming by his own MPs, it is clear that the game is up for the obstinate, degenerate Tory leader.
This whole rotten episode is reminiscent of the last days of Rome: an inglorious collapse; moral dissolution and disintegration; a crisis of the regime.
‘On the brink’: how the Tory press turned on Boris Johnson (apart from the Express) https://t.co/lQIFl5yJea— The Guardian (@guardian) July 6, 2022
Boris emerged from last month’s vote of confidence a wounded animal, with more than 40% of his MPs against him. Soon after, the Tories were humiliated in the by-elections in Tiverton and Wakefield. Despite all the bluff and bluster, the writing was clearly on the wall.
These electoral disasters sent Tory backbenchers into panic mode. Without a dramatic change of course, even those with healthy majorities feared that they too could lose their seats.
“I never really thought there was a genuine prospect of losing my seat,” stated one southern Tory MP. “But now I do think I’m gone. I think there’s no saving it now.”
After months of turmoil and corruption, the (aptly-named) Pincher affair was the final straw for many, with the Prime Minister exposed for attempting to cover-up for the misconduct of one of his parliamentary whips.
Even Boris-supporting Tories became exasperated at having to constantly lie through their teeth in order to cover for their leader’s deceit, recklessness, crimes, and misdemeanours.
“I’m fucked if I’m ever doing that again,” exclaimed one Tory MP, commenting on the latest mess that they had been ordered to mop up.
And so plans for a ‘coup’ were hatched, with Sunak and Javid its figureheads. They were backed by a number of other prominent Conservative figures, many of whom had previously declared themselves to be Johnson loyalists. These ministers jumped before the ship went down, drowning the whole crew.
As one Tory MP stated: “Even among the PM’s most uber-loyalists, there is now a sense that he has to go, and has to go now, before he inflicts any more damage on the party.”
A snap poll by YouGov, meanwhile, found that almost 70% of UK voters believe that Boris Johnson should resign.
Sunak, representing the most libertarian wing of the Tory Party, expressed differences with Johnson over how to proceed economically. In his resignation letter, he stated that “our country is facing immense challenges”, which were made worse by the government’s decisions.
So, as the day comes to an end, I make it 8 resignations:— Joseph Attard (@josephattard02) July 5, 2022
Let’s see what tomorrow brings! Night! 😘 https://t.co/HdEQWZct9C
He opposed Johnson’s opportunism, stressing the need to “make sacrifices and take difficult decisions”. Clearly the Tory leader was more interested in his own image and interests, yearning for popularity, whilst the ex-chancellor wanted to deliver bitter medicine in response to the crisis.
Rishi Sunak implied that this would be the end of his ministerial career. No doubt this former banker can count on finding himself a top spot in the City if all else fails.
Tory Party rules officially state that Johnson should be safe from another challenge for 12 months. But insiders have made it clear that such rules could easily be changed by a new executive of the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative MPs, in order to enable another no-confidence vote – a vote that Boris would be sure to lose this time.
Leadership hopefuls – such as foreign secretary Liz Truss, newly-appointed chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, and defence secretary Ben Wallace – will now begin jostling to succeed Johnson.
But the job of Tory leader seems like a poisoned chalice, given the crisis opening up and the savage measures the government will be forced to carry through.
Far from stabilising the situation, meanwhile, getting rid of Boris could open up a Pandora’s Box for the ruling class.
The establishment is desperate to have someone in place who will protect the interests of British capitalism – rather than, as with Boris, their own ego and career.
But there is no guarantee of this. At the end of the day, it is the reactionary ‘swivel-eyed loons’ in the Tory ranks who get to decide the party’s leader. And they are likely to choose someone cut from the same cloth as Johnson…or even worse.
The ruling class are therefore caught between a rock and a hard place.
Overthrow the system
In such circumstances, the ruling class may decide to put their hopes on ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer, who has fallen over himself to prove what a loyal servant he would be to the establishment; what a reliable pair of hands he would be for big business.
But the Labour leader also faces an uncertain future, with the outcome of ‘beergate’ hanging over his head.
The stormy period ahead will wreck all governments that attempt to operate within the confines of capitalism.
Our task is not simply to get rid of the Tories, nor to bring in a flag-waving big business Labour government, but to overthrow the entire system that they represent.
Experience will push millions into looking for a real alternative to the misery and chaos of capitalism. Already, workers are on the move, mobilising against the bosses’ offensive. And young people are being radicalised, looking for a way out of the crisis.
This demands not half measures, but a root-and-branch transformation of society – a socialist revolution.