Boris Johnson’s coming and going – a familiar course of action – was the cause of quite a few expedient gyrations among his deluded supporters.
Nadhim Zahawi, who in his short-lived stint as chancellor had told Johnson to resign, wrote an article for the Telegraph website that was headlined, “Get ready for Boris 2.0, the man who will make the Tories great again”. It was published at 9pm on Sunday, two minutes after Johnson released a statement that he was pulling out of the race. The article was quickly deleted and by the next evening Zahawi was declaring that Rishi Sunak had his “full support and loyalty”.
Jonathan Gullis, the rent-a-quote Stoke-on-Trent MP who once railed against the media’s “sick obsession” with Covid deaths, went on a similar journey. Having quit as a PPS and called for Johnson to go in July, he came out for Johnson on Saturday, claiming that he had “got the big calls right”. By Sunday he had “spoken to Rishi and I have said I will back him”.
Apart from Nadine Dorries – Johnson’s ultimate fangirl, who was still harping on about how he had the “members’ vote” even after he withdrew and who is now free to receive a peerage in BoJo’s resignation honours – the MPs whom Johnson encouraged to declare their support for him have good reason to feel aggrieved.
Jacob Rees-Mogg on Monday morning was still stuck with a series of distinctly embarrassing pronouncements on his Twitter feed: “Boris is a winner”, “Bring back Boris”, “Boris is the best answer”, etc.
A discombobulating time, too, for Sun journalist Harry Cole, the former boyfriend of Carrie Johnson. Out of the Blue, his biography of Liz Truss – originally due to be published on December 8 – hadn’t reckoned with the way another Tory leader could suddenly come out of the blue…