“The question this morning is whether Johnson, who fundamentally disagrees with May’s new Brexit policy no less, will also go – along with other Cabinet dissenters.”
That was the extract below our ToryDiary about David Davis’s resignation this morning. As we suggested, the former Foreign Secretary could not afford another Heathrow moment – and had little choice but to hurl himself beneath the wheels of Olly Robbins’ tractor.
Our sense earlier was that the former Brexit Secretary’s departure had pushed the door of a confidence vote in Theresa May ajar. Now Johnson has kicked it wide open.
The consequences of such a ballot are unknowable. The Prime Minister might win it easily. Alternatively, support might simply drain away.
Whoever any new leader might be in the circumstance of a leadership election – coronation or contest – the arithmetic in the Commons wouldn’t change.
What is certain is that the Brexit negotiation would grind to a total halt, which could be followed by No Deal…by MPs seeking to force EEA on the new Government…by a move to postpone the moving of Article 50…by an election. Your guess is as good as ours.
Who will be drafted in to replace Johnson? Liam Fox? Penny Mordaunt? Michael Gove? As the resignations start to come in, the replacements count for less.
The former Foreign Secretary once wrote a book called Friends, Voters, Countrymen – a reminder that he knows his Shakespeare as well as his Churchill.
“Mischief, thou art afoot,” says Mark Antony at the end of the oration which gave Johnson his spoofing title. “Take thou what course thou wilt.” We gather that he has prepared a magnum opus explaining his position that will shortly be loosed on the world.
Our reservations about the self-indulgence and self-harm of a leadership contest, and of the threat to Brexit itself, count for nothing when the storm is up, the bark swims and all is on the hazard.