2022 – Johnson’s terrible legacy: the prime minister who took his party and his country hostage | Simon Jenkins

It was intended to be a Mafia death without the need for the 1922 commission’s maneuvering or the vote of a Member of Parliament.

When the men in gray suits left Downing Street on Tuesday night, they put the wanted gun and a bottle of whiskey on the table. Looks like Boris Johnson threw them in the trash. Michael Gove, a leading rebel in the Cabinet, was one of those who urged the prime minister to resign. He was released on Wednesday evening. Johnson pretty much threw it in the trash, too.

The Conservative Party is still a minority rule. During the day, an unprecedented 40 ministers and their aides left Johnson’s side. They will win, but not yet. Johnson wouldn’t go without blood, sweat and tears.

If he tries to hold out until next week, the Party Committee of 1922 will surely meet, change its rules, and strip him of its confidence. The bragging televised cabinet meetings would seem terribly empty. There is no way he can tell the Queen that he has a parliamentary majority.

At a certain point, no more integrity or even competence is required of a political leader. The problem is simple dignity. Johnson’s willful self-deception through one Downing Street fiasco after another might be present if he believed he was hiding a solid sense of purpose. But it will hide nothing but a useless ambition, still backed by the slave support of a group of second-class confidants. His time is up but they don’t tell him and he can’t see him.

Johnson still appears to believe he can invoke a popular electoral mandate over the heads of his fellow Representatives: a parody of his colleague and once admirer of Donald Trump’s ongoing campaign in America. But it won’t work and it can’t work. In Britain, layers of political membranes separate the office of the Prime Minister and the electorate.

The issues that brought down Johnson — Partigate, the honoring of corruption, the resignation of Lord Gidette (his former moral advisor) and of course the allegations against his former vice president Christopher Pincher — may not be life, war, and death issues, but they are still important, and their cumulative effect has deprived him of power among his peers and the public.

The skillful and stature prime minister may have fired them, but Johnson is not that prime minister: his apologies were tepid, his treatments empty. He wasn’t really interested in openness, honesty, or understanding the role they should play in exercising power.

His latest remarks to Parliament on Wednesday raised hopes that people would not welcome a sudden turmoil in Downing Street at a time of tension in the nation’s affairs, a measure of his collapse that his colleagues are now willing to take the risk. The British constitution allows them to do so.

Johnson left his country in the most terrible chaos, a chaos clearly symbolized by the way he left.

He can retreat to a bunker, a rampage, and even a reshuffle, but it’s game over. He must not hold his party and his country hostage for too long.

Simon Jenkins is a columnist for The Guardian