Boris Johnson
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on July 6, 2022, for the Houses of Parliament for the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session. Johnson suffered two shock departures from his government Tuesday, including his finance minister, as civil war erupted in the high command of the ruling Conservative party. Image Credit: AFP

On Tuesday evening, the BBC’s 24-hour news channel had a camera focused for a good hour or so, on the comings and goings at the most famous hall door in the world. And for much of the time, Larry the Cat, waited patiently outside 10 Downing Street for someone inside to let him in.

Yes, Larry has lived at 10 Downing Street since 2011, and since that time he’s seen prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May come and go. And if he waits a few more days, chances are he’ll see Boris Johnson out too, and a new caretaker PM appointed.

If Johnson managed to survive until Thursday, he would surpass Sir Neville Chamberlain — “peace in our time” — for the length of time in office. Not that that itself would be a claim to fame or infamy. Johnson has only been in office since July 24, 2019. Only the bravest would dare suggest he’ll make it to his third anniversary. And as things stand now, Johnson has used up all nine political lives supposedly endured by Larry — and a few more as well.

A spot poll taken Tuesday night suggests that 69 per cent of Brits think it’s time Johnson left 10 Downing Street.


Yes, Johnson has only been in office for just under three years — but it does seem so, so, so much longer. Heck, these last few years have been all about Johnson. But for how much longer?

At 5pm on Tuesday, the prime minister was giving a very hastily arranged television interview with the BBC, hoping that it would be the main segment on the 6pm Evening News — he and his handler’s attempt to set the record straight on just what he knew and when about the latest scandal to rock his administration and team.

That the BBC were delaying the 6pm broadcast until after the men’s quarter-final at Wimbledon wasn’t realised by Team Boris. Britain’s No 1, Cameron Norrie, was playing and the Beeb wouldn’t cut off his game for the news. Better to delay it instead, the corporation news executives decided.

Just as well that they did. By 6.02pm, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, had resigned. Nine minutes later, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had followed suit. And by the time the news eventually started at 7pm, Team Boris was in trouble. Deep trouble. More trouble than he has been over these past 35 months.

A spot poll taken Tuesday night suggests that 69 per cent of Brits think it’s time Johnson left 10 Downing Street. The headlines on Wednesday morning’s front pages couldn’t be any worse — all except for the Daily Express, as loyal to Johnson is as Larry is to whoever puts down a saucer of milk, declaring the two ministers’ resignations as an opportunity to finally reset things. Reset? The way things are going now, another pandemic would be more welcome than the government lurching from crisis to crisis all made or exacerbated by the man at the helm. He leads a sinking ship where the desertions are coming by the hour …

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was clinging to power on Wednesday, gravely wounded by the resignation of ministers who said he was not fit to govern and with a growing number of lawmakers calling for him to go.

This is a leader who, barely three weeks ago, narrowly survived a vote of confidence from his own party. More than 42 per cent of the MPs he leads said they didn’t want him at the head of the party — nor at the head of government.

Boris Johnson protest
Demonstrators protest against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in London on July 6, 2022. After days of battling for his job, Johnson had been deserted by all but a handful of allies after the latest in a series of scandals broke their willingness to support him. Image Credit: Reuters

And does he think for one minute that that percentage of dissenters has decreased with the continued chaos at 10 Downing Street?

Theoretically, he has immunity from another confidence vote for 12 months. There’s a better chance of Larry the Cat being PM when that anniversary rolls around than there is of Johnson.

Since that vote took place, his many opponents within the conservative party have been planning to take over the 1922 Committee that runs the vote, changing the rules to allow them to try and try again.

Two by-election results barely two weeks ago showed that he was a liability with the electorate. The Liberal Democrats overturned a 22,000 gap to take a Dorset seat very handily. In Wakesfield, Labour easily won. The Conservative — sorry Boris spin — is that if you look at both by-elections results combined, the Conservative candidates actually earned more votes together than did Labour or the Lib Dems. Quite frankly, that’s the type of furball spin Larry would leave on a carpet somewhere.

With Sunak and Javid both handing in their papers, there is a hope that other senior ministers would do so too — leaving Johnson with no alternative but to step aside. That seems unlikely, given that there are enough around him for now who believe, although wounded, he does retain their support. That is no bankable commodity, certainly that now his many opponents see more weakness than ever before. But is it really within the hubris of Johnson to recognise that the gig is finally up?

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The timing of those resignations would certainly seem to suggest that both Sunak and Javid see no hope of redemption for Johnson, by leaving now they can at least begin to organise their supporters for the time when Johnson does finally go. Their resignations aren’t about Johnson’s leadership per se, but also about their own leadership ambitions.

Those leadership ambitions will also be on the minds of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove who are staying in place for now. Rest assured they will be doing the calculations of how long more they should stay before those ambitions of entering 10 Downing Street are fatally undermined by fidelity to Johnson.

Those are the calculations going on right now. Larry will soon have a new master. Meow!