In the minds of a sufficient proportion of the electorate – 43.6 per cent – Johnson’s ideological commitment to this one issue trumped all else, including manifest character flaws, chief among them a lack of honesty.
This is a failing he shares with the person he chose to be his chief aide, Dominic Cummings who masterminded the Leave campaign and its mendacious suggestion that all the money sent to the EU could be spent on the NHS instead, and who later claimed he had driven for 60 miles with his wife and child in the car in order to test whether his eye-sight was good enough to drive.
If Cummings was the brains of the Johnson administration, heaven help us.
As seen during Donald Trump's term as president, such people have a tendency to fall out with a bitterness that becomes public. In different times, aides would have left quietly even if they felt snubbed. Instead, Cummings now wages a vendetta against his former boss.
His words should come with a health warning; if he has any ability at all it is in political spin. However, where he presents concrete evidence of Johnson’s failings, this has to be taken seriously.
Whatsapp and other messaging services create a pressure to speak abruptly, to put things in a way that is not quite what you mean. However any politician worth their salt would know that such messages may return to haunt them.
Johnson’s callous and inaccurate claim that the people dying of Covid were “essentially all over 80” as he argued against tightening the Covid restrictions last autumn was compounded by his foolishness in writing it down.
His attempt to avoid self-isolation, after Health Secretary Sajid Javid caught Covid, and swift U-turn amid public outrage add to the impression created by Cummings, among others, of a chaotic, uncaring and self-indulgent government, unfit for office at any time, let alone a global crisis.
Nicola Sturgeon’s government is far from perfect but has not created the same impression. However, Scotland should be wary, lest support for independence mask failures in its future political leaders in the same way as Brexit has done for Johnson.