Whitehouse Communications Chair, Chris Whitehouse, asks whether Boris Johnson has outstayed his welcome at the head of government.
Will the cabinet act?
Yesterday’s loss by the Conservatives of the Wakefield and the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections to Labour the Liberal Democrats respectively, has seen renewed calls for Boris Johnson to resign. Even Paul Goodman, the editor of Tory heartland blog-site Conservative Home, has argued that the case for the Cabinet advising Johnson to go ‘was strong at the start of the month and is more so now’.
Of course, to political consultants and lobbyists, it matters not much who is Prime Minister or who is serving as which minister, so long as we remain able to make our clients’ case to the right ears in the right way at the right time. But, for what it’s worth, I’m not convinced that the Cabinet will act against Johnson right now.
Is it just mid-term blues?
The Conservative Government is mid-term, and it’s long been a tradition that the electorate gives the incumbent Government a slap in the face with a wet fish at this stage in the parliamentary timetable. What’s more, who is ready to wield the knife with which to stab Boris in the back right now, and who really has the popularity and the profile seriously to be in contention as his successor?
Rishi Sunak was being touted as a star candidate at the beginning of the year, but that star has waned. Yes, Sajid Javid, Liz Truss, Priti Patel and Jeremy Hunt would be serious contenders, among others, but I remain to be convinced that the country, and the grassroots Conservative party are really in the mind-set of wanting to watch a self-indulgent Conservative Party leadership election.
Who would want the job?
We are [effectively] at war in Ukraine with a madman who has his finger on the nuclear button. We are facing an energy crisis. Transport is in chaos. Living costs are spiralling. Children’s education is compromised. The NHS is in an appalling state. Who would want to step into this mess right now, without time to sort any of it out prior to the next general election?
As political consultants and lobbyists in Westminster, Whitehall, the devolved administrations and the institutions of the European Union, we will continue to engage to influence public policy, whoever forms the government, but I sense we will be continuing to engage with a Boris Johnson government for some time to come.