More on the final throes of Boris Johnson’s government from our political correspondent, WALTER CRONXITE
Like Michael Fabricant’s syrup, once seen, this can never be unseen.
Once heard, it certainly can never be unheard.
In fact, this has been playing on a loop in the office at Inside Croydon Towers since this lunchtime, when Croydon South’s MP, Chris Philp, after an unusually low-profile week, returned to our telly screens following nearly two days of internal agonising over whether he should cravenly hold out for a cabinet job, or should finally try to appear to do the decent thing.
They say that Westminster politics can be a bit of a zoo at times.
Around midday today, with the world’s TV news crews camped on College Green, it better resembled a circus as, finally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted the gig was up.
A lifetime of lies and deceits, of the bungs of Italian villa holidays, wallpaper and treehouses, his philandering and cosying up to Russian spies, is all about to come to an end. Just not quite yet.
“Them’s the breaks,” Blo-Jo said outside No10, in a graceless speech in which he tried to portray himself as the wronged one, without offering a hint of remorse or contrition after his own law-breaking and acting as an enabler for sex pests.
“A pound shop Trump”, was the way in which his former colleague and mate, “Lord” Gavin Barwell, described Johnson last night.
So Johnson has resigned as leader of the Tory Party, but thinks he will plod on as Prime Minister, possibly for weeks yet. After making his little speech in Downing Street, Johnson went back inside to scrape the bottom of the Tory barrel to try to cobble together a new cabinet.
Nadine Dorries to be his third Chancellor in three days, perhaps?
Priti Patel moved to the Foreign Office, in a blatant attempt to start WWIII, and allow Johnson to continue in office for four or five more years, at the head of a government of national unity, to allow him to further fulfil his delusions of grandeur and his Churchill complex?
Paul Scully promoted to stacking shelves in Sainsburys, North Cheam?
Having been almost drowned out by the sound of Boots Randolph and James Q’s “Yakety Sax” – the tune used for many years as the theme music for the Benny Hill Show (Inside Croydon’s younger readers should ask their grandparents, or great grandparents to explain) – Philp battled through his Sky News interview, as just after 8am today he’d emerged as government resignee No53.
“I haven’t given it any deep thought, to be honest…”, Philp said, perhaps using one of his stock answers, when he was asked about how long Johnson can hang on in Downing Street without a functioning government in place.
Live television has been an unforgiving mistress for Philp the official apologist these past few weeks. First there was Mick Lynch’s Gatling gun accusations of lies on Newsnight while Philp tried to put the government’s false case over the railway strikes.
That was brutal enough. But the ridicule of the Benny Hill theme will probably do far deeper, longer-lasting damage to Philp’s political career.
As one Twitter commenter put it after witnessing it, “I’m generally not in favour of people arsing around in the background of TV interviews but I did chuckle involuntarily at the Benny Hill theme in the background while Chris Philp was wearing his Very Serious face.”
Expect the clip to be replayed in all reviews of 2022, by Charlie Brooker, on Have I Got News For You, and almost any other programme where satire and news might meet, not to mention in a million memes. And to think that until this morning, Philp was Britain’s digital minister, in a position to put an end to that kind of online cruelty…
It turns out that one of the reasons Philp has given for his long-delayed resignation was that, in the midst of it all going on around him yesterday, he went out to dinner with his wife to celebrate his own birthday. If ever there was a case of not reading the room…
In letters to his constituents today, after being questioned about his two years spent repeatedly defending the indefensible, Philp was a great pains to stress how “early this morning” and “very early this morning” he had sent in his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister.
Philp tweeted it at 8.06am. Very early, indeed. He was so “early”, Philp was only the fourth minister to resign during the course of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme…
“Early this morning I resigned as a minister in the government because I felt that Boris Johnson should no longer continue as Prime Minister, for reasons that will be obvious,” said the man for whom those reasons had not been obvious until about five minutes earlier…
“It took me some time to reach my decision to resign,” Philp’s constituents’ letter continued, in a bold bid to claim this week’s No Shit Sherlock Award.
“Firstly, I was conscious of the landslide election victory in 2019 that Boris led (although of course we have a parliamentary not a presidential system).” Ahh, the wonders of belatedly remembering how the British constitution is actually supposed to work, and sticking it in parentheses, after all these months of parroting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s script about Lord Salisbury and Johnson having some kind of personal mandate.
“Secondly, I was deeply engaged in ministerial work, which included overhauling the UK’s gambling laws to prevent highly addictive gambling – the cause of many suicides across the country – in addition to taking the ground-breaking Online Safety Bill through Parliament, which will ensure children and adults are kept safe online.
“I felt I had a public duty to discharge these significant responsibilities, but, in the end, the issues of ethics and integrity and the proper functioning of the constitution became so substantial that they outweighed everything else.
“I will keep working on national issues in Westminster and of course continue to prioritise working, as always, on things that are important to our local neighbourhood here in Croydon.”
Which is nice.
What’s the odds of millionaire Philp opting to return to his property financing business and standing down from parliament at the next General Election?
Read more: After a 38-hour pause for thought, Philp quits government
Read more: MP Philp: ‘Brown-nosing is first, second and third nature’
Read more: ‘The Prime Minister admits he lied’ says Tory Lord Barwell
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