So, Britain’s latest prime minister lasted just 44 days. Yup, that was it — less than the lifespan of a mosquito. It’s the time David Blaine spent starving himself in a glass box overlooking London’s Tower Bridge. Some people have vacations that last longer. I think I did once.
Is this a sign of a country in crisis? Is it proof of a nation that’s become a laughingstock? Well, on the latter, you’d need to ask the people laughing. I couldn’t say. But I can comment on the former, and my view is this: The defenestration of Liz Truss a little over a month after taking office shows that Britain is in an unusually healthy state. In fact, the country is brimming with admirable self-preservation. It has overdosed on good sense.
A Boris return so soon would be the single most extraordinary political event in my lifetime.
Liz Truss, as many of us warned before a bunch of clueless Conservative Party members elected her leader and therefore prime minister, was always destined to be a catastrophic choice. She has zero presence, even less charisma, and therefore precious little authority. Her communication skills are no better than those of a stopped clock. She had as much statesmanship about her as a jet-lagged Joe Biden. She inspires no more confidence than Eddie the Eagle wearing the wrong pair of glasses.
In short, Liz Truss was a useless PM. For sure, it took a little longer for some to realize this than others. But, even so, when her inadequacy for the office she briefly held became impossible to ignore, even among her staunchest supporters, Britain had the good sense to ditch her. We showed no mercy nor compunction. We acted swiftly, before she could do any more damage.
And what would have been worse? To do as we did, after just 44 days, or to plow on until the money markets turned Britain into a piece of junk? It’s obvious. If you drop a clanger of a mistake, you rectify it right away, dust down, and move on. Yes, it’s a tad embarrassing. Of course it is. And it’s an utter humiliation for Truss (I genuinely feel for her). But, by heavens, the alternative would have been considerably worse.
So, what happens next? Incredibly, as I write, it looks as though Boris Johnson could make a quite sensational return to power. Given that his own members of Parliament chucked him out of office just a couple of months ago, citing a complete absence of trust, a return of Boris so soon would be the single most extraordinary political event in my lifetime. Nobody ever loses the leadership of a major political party only to return, fresh-faced and all innocent-looking, a matter of weeks later. If it happens, Lazarus would be obliged to step aside. We’d have a new No. 1.
And if it isn’t Boris? Well, right now, it looks like it would be his former finance minister, Rishi Sunak, who is massively wealthy, would be Britain’s first ethnic minority prime minister since Benjamin Disraeli a century and a half ago, and has loads of enemies. I reckon he’d be a good choice. He should, of course, have been elected ahead of Truss.
If one of those two doesn’t get it — and both have plenty of folk plotting against them — then the relatively untried, untested Penny Mordaunt could surge through the middle to become Britain’s least likely prime minister since … oh my God … Liz Truss. Well, we’re learning to expect the unexpected.
It’s all a little unsettling, to say the least, especially as we’re suffering, as many countries are, from spiraling inflation, rocketing energy bills, scary interest rates, and a winter with possible blackouts ahead. Oh, and all the while, that insane Putin has his finger hovering over the nuclear button, insisting he’s not bluffing.
But all that will be nothing compared to the sheer thunderbolt of a Boris Johnson return. If he’s speaking to us from the steps of Downing Street this time next week, we political pundits and commentators might as well give up. The impossible will have happened. The incredible will have occurred. The unthinkable will have become reality.
It therefore surely cannot happen. Surely.