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Tit Spat Splat: The Race to Number 10 is Nearly Run

Tit Spat Splat: The Race to Number 10 is Nearly Run

10 downing street

Bojo for PM? Surely a shoo-in. The bookies’ have Boris Johnson very heavy favourite to become our next Prime Minister. His rival, Jeremy Hunt, limps in as rank outsider. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, doing the job itself looks set to be as turbulent as his love life.

Bit of a tiff with the girlfriend? And how! With the cops called by a neighbour worried about the racket going on where Bojo hangs his hat these days, it seems his personal debates can be robust.

Ok, it came to nothing as far as the police were concerned, but it’s the mother of all gifts to those who say he’s not fit for high office.

Journalists who’ve always hated him are rubbing their hands in glee as the dredge up all the stories of his past philanderings. The ladies. The various children. The drugs.

And you can’t help but wonder how all this will play with the good people who’ll finally choose our next Prime Minister. The 160,000 or so Conservative party members, who’re mainly elderly and, not to put too fine a point on it, fairly, ahem, straight.

However, though a new poll for The Times found that 40 per cent of them don’t believe Bojo can be trusted to tell the truth, almost double that number say they’ll vote for him anyway.

They think he’s a winner, and they particularly like his message on Brexit. Which is that he’ll push it through by the end of October, deal or no deal.

This matters to these guys, as another poll has shown that nearly two-thirds of them want this, even if it causes ‘significant damage to the economy’. Quote unquote.

So Bojo’s up-and-downer with his lover Carrie Simonds, who’s 24 years his junior, may give him problems. Or may not.

We live in crazy times.

But there’s no getting round the bad blood spilt all over the place within the Tory party in the race to the top.

Much talk of dodgy dealing to make sure Bojo’s old rival for Tory leader, Michael Gove, would not make it during the tortuous calcification of the final list of two.

Whatever, instead of a feisty fist fight between them in the coming weeks we’re looking at something altogether more sedate.

You almost feel sorry for the mild-mannered Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He’ll face endless hustings as the also-ran. The nowhere man.

Tory MP’s call him TIT. Theresa in Trousers. No disrespect but… loser!

And what a contrast to Bojo. Who’s got the profile, the charisma, the charm, the wit, the oomph to put everyone else in the shade. Cheers people up, for god’s sake.

None of this showed in the tedious televised debate last week. The commentator who said it was like a boy-band reunion got it spot-on.

Who sparkled? No one. Without the gags, our former Foreign Secretary and London Mayor is gagged.

But that’s only because he’s playing it super-safe, not because he’s had a sense of humour by-pass.

Much of that is down to Ms Simonds, who’s a PR whiz and a formidable force. Seems they make rather a good team. When they’re not shouting at one another.

So the likelihood remains that come July a smiling Boris Johnson will be waving at the adoring throng on the doorstep of Number Ten. With or without Carrie.

What then? Oh god! Sorting Brexit.

He’ll have an in-tray, as you do. And what will be spitting in his eye? The really annoying parliamentary mathematics.

Let’s cast our minds back.

Theresa May (remember her?) held a general election a couple of years ago, so she could increase the slender Tory majority she’d inherited.

That way she could bulldoze through the relatively hard version of Brexit she figured the nation had plumped for.

Whoops-a-daisy! Her party’s majority, such as it was, evaporated. And her government found itself depending for survival on Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.

It gets worse. A Tory MP’s been slung out for fiddling his expenses. And the Lib Dems are expected to win the by-election held to replace him.

And it’s just possible the Foreign Office Minister who manhandled a climate change protester at a speech on Thursday could also get the boot.

If that happened the government’s majority could be wiped out altogether. To paraphrase Alice in Wonderland, serious and seriouser.

And that’s before we even get to parliament’s problem with the exit deal May so painstakingly negotiated with the European Union.

They’ve chucked it out repeatedly. And for all Bojo’s blithe assertions that he can make it better, somehow, the EU say dream on. It’s non-negotiable.

So Prime Minister Johnson will have to go for no-deal then. But Parliament won’t let him do that either.

The ducking and weaving in the leadership votes last week strongly suggest Tory MPs’ attitudes are hardening. Meaning he simply won’t get the numbers, especially now that they’re suddenly diminishing.

Of course he could, just, shut up shop and do it anyway. Technically, apparently, this would be legal. But the political meltdown would put The Apprentice in the shade.

You’re fired? The heat would reduce Goldilocks to Baldilocks.

Right then, only one thing for it. Though Bojo’s consistently insisted there’ll be no general election this side of Brexit, rules are made to be broken. One of which, in politics, is you never say never.

Besides, as all paid-up members of the BJ Sucks Society will tell you, he’s ever so good at saying one thing one week and the opposite the next.

And there’s no question it’s a runner. More and more grownup folk in Westminster who’ve always said we can’t have a rerun of the 2016 referendum are now saying it’s the only way to break the logjam.

In theory it would be just another general election, in practice something much bigger.

The underlying and overwhelming question would not be who governs us for a while, but who are we? Not for the next few years but for a generation or more.

Polling evidence suggests buyers’ remorse has kicked in, and there’s now a slender majority across the UK for remaining in the European Union.

But individual punters make individual choices. They can only go for the candidates on the ballot papers. And our voting system is designed to squeeze out smaller parties.

Bad news for pro-remain outfits like the Lib Dems and the Greens. And tantalising for the pro-remain majority of Labour supporters who’re on their knees praying Jezza will see the light in time.

Pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to get off the bloody fence, stop fannying around and go for another referendum is intensifying by the day.

He doesn’t want to, because he’s an instinctive Brexiter. But if he did it would be a game-changer.

And here’s the irony. You’ll read lots and lots in the coming weeks about the Tory leader. But it’s the geezer in the red corner who could land the knockout blow.


Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.

Former Sky Correspondent Peter Spencer shot in front of his The Pink Palace home in Cornwall. He looks off camera holding a glass of brandy in his right hand

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