Analysis: Boris Johnson makes a bad situation worse and his supporters know it

Boris Johnson appeared before the Privileges Committee hoping to save his political career.
Boris Johnson lost support among Tory MPs after his appearance.Boris Johnson lost support among Tory MPs after his appearance.
Boris Johnson lost support among Tory MPs after his appearance.

Failing to convince the MPs he didn’t mislead the house will see him either suspended or worse, expelled from the Commons, sparking a by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

He arrived to loud cheers from his supporters including Jacob Rees-Mogg, who later tweeted labelling the MPs interviewing Mr Johnson, most of whom were Conservatives, “marsupials”, suggesting it was a kangaroo court. During a heated evidence session, the former Prime Minister refused to say it was not.

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Things weren’t promising before the hearing, which saw his evidence published containing not three, not two, not one, but instead zero examples explaining how his attendance at events such a leaving drinks were allowed.

Instead, the former Prime Minister’s argument was that attending a leaving do was “essential” because everyone had been working “incredibly hard” and he needed to boost “morale”.That those in the NHS were unable to enjoy such luxuries seemed beyond him, with his evidence focusing on how he could simply not have known the rules he wrote and advocated for on television every week.

Usually when caught in scandal, MPs step back, take time away from the front line, then come back with all if not forgotten, then ignored. See Damian Green. But for Mr Johnson, his refusal to accept he was wrong has hurt his party, and damaged his standing within it.

His appearance on Wednesday was a disaster, with his own legal adviser, Lord Pannick, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as his £222,000 fee, paid for by the taxpayer, saw his client shouting and questioning the authenticity of the committee.

When his comeback was first mooted, perhaps 100 MPs were willing to support him. Now the number is closer to 30. The tweets have stopped, the broadcast appearances advocating for him reduced to outliers, or MPs standing down anyway.

There were also supposed to be a multitude of Mr Johnson supporters waiting in the lobby to brief journalists afterwards, but in the end only Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Hiroo Onoda of the Boris movement, was left to fight for him.There will be few Tory tears shed if he is suspended.



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