Analysis: Boris Johnson's majority no longer looks enough to save him
Heading off to India, things were looking as rosy as they could be in the circumstance for the Prime Minister.
The Government had tabled a motion ordering Conservative MPs to vote for a delay in setting up any investigation, and with a working majority of 75, it seemed time to bust out the party poppers.
Instead the whips once again dramatically misjudged the mood of Tory MPs, who seem to have realised voting to protect a Prime Minister facing more fines wasn’t the smartest move.
It was a humiliating u-turn, a disaster of optics, and a reminder that just because the Downing Street operation has changed doesn’t mean it’s any less dysfunctional.
Earlier this week Tory MPs told me of how humbled Mr Johnson seemed, how apologetic and sincere his regret was over his seemingly brief attendance at a rule breaking event.
In public, the Prime Minister appeared to show contrition, even if an explanation was not forthcoming.
But then in private with his own MPs, his approach was to dismiss it entirely, once again stress it was not his fault, and backbenchers who were happy to forgive have now changed their mind.
Consider Steve Baker, who had previously stressed his belief in forgiveness and support for the Prime Minister.
Having then heard him speak in private, the influential Tory is now calling for Mr Johnson to go, saying he “should just know the gig’s up”.
A sign of how far the Prime Minister’s stock has fallen can be seen in the instructions for them to go home, rather than turn up for the vote.
MPs could have come in regardless to make speeches defending the Prime Minister, claim Labour are just point scoring, or at least vote against them.
Instead many stayed home, choosing to have no part in a vote the Government accepted it was better to lose without trying.
After Owen Paterson, MPs are less willing to take the hit on issues like this, and his authority is left diminished.
Mr Johnson has a massive majority, but has not done enough with it to save himself from a committee he was desperate to avoid.
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