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Boris Johnson is a twofold curse on the Conservative Party’s efforts at serious structural reform. Where it is likely to anger his base, as with housing reform, or simply not interest them, as with Civil Service reform, he is inclined not to see it through in the first place.

But perhaps worse is that when he does take up the baton, he too often appears to be doing so for the lowest of reasons.

Take the Owen Paterson fiasco. Any principled concerns Tory MPs might have had about the way MPs are overseen have now been completely overshadowed by what looked to the public like a straightforward attempt to bend the rules to get a colleague off the hook.

Not only has this likely poisoned the well for the sort of parliamentary reform Conservatives were looking at, but it has actually given those who want to increase the power of modern HR culture and unelected officials over MPs an opening to push their case.

It’s shaping up to be a similar story with the Electoral Commission. There is definitely a case for reform here; we noted as far back as 2018 that the EC might be unfit for purpose. Why should a body with such power over the conduct of our democracy not be more democratically accountable?

There is also the wider point that institutions which date back only to New Labour do not automatically qualify as the essential buttresses of British democracy some try to portray them as.

But in the wake of ‘wallpapergate’, the Prime Minister is not a credible carrier of that message. The EC found against him for soliciting donations to redecorate Downing Street. If there was a time when he might have brushed this off, it has passed. Once again, a worthwhile and principled reform agenda risks looking like the personal revenge of a cornered premier.

There isn’t much to be done about it for now, short of once again abandoning the reform agenda (short-sighted and unwise) or replacing the Prime Minister. But the Government should be mindful of this effect and adjust its strategy in other areas accordingly.

If Dominic Raab proceeds with his plans for Interpretation Bills, for example, I suggested this morning that he should avoid starting with a head-long assault on Miller II (the prorogation judgment) and instead choose something less controversial, in order to give the first Bill an easier passage through Parliament and help to iron out kinks in the new procedure.

Perhaps I ought to have added that it would aid the credibility of the move if the target was a case or cases that preceded Johnson’s premiership, and thus weren’t defeats from him personally.