Saturday 14 January 2023

Depending on promises


The Times ran a story yesterday suggesting that Boris Johnson might offer Rishi Sunak a deal under which Johnson would not attempt to oust Sunak before the next election in return for Sunak pulling a few strings to find Johnson a safer seat in which to stand at that election. It might just be a bit of kite-flying to see what the reaction might be; it might be a deliberate piece of mischief. In the febrile atmosphere of the Tory Party, Johnson’s ‘friends’ might turn out to be his enemies after all. But whether it’s actually true or not, it has a certain whiff of credibility about it. It’s the sort of thing a man who believes himself to be the saviour of the party and the country would do, even if his belief is shared only by a tiny minority even amongst his own party’s MPs. The fact that sources close to Johnson publicly declared only last month that he would stand again in his current seat – a declaration referred to by Sunak yesterday – only adds to the credibility of the story. Johnson’s history shows that the more times he repeats something the less likely it is to be true.

And that’s the real problem with the Times story. However true the story itself might be, the likelihood of Sunak agreeing to Johnson’s demands depends on an assumption that Sunak could rely on a promise made by a man who has never knowingly honoured a single promise in his life. Whilst Sunak has amply demonstrated that he isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the box, even he couldn’t be that stupid. Could he?

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