Chris Moncrieff: Boris kidding no one over public interest in late night row

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff
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What on earth possessed that wily old political warhorse Boris Johnson to pretend no one is interested in his late night domestic altercations, and that all people wanted to hear were his policies in the battle for the Conservative leadership? What utter bosh.

Johnson knows very well that everyone was interested in the late night row in his partner’s flat, which has filled the newspapers for a couple of days and caused, for the first time in this campaign, ordinary people to discuss the battle for Number Ten.

Media outside the home of Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson, in south London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Media outside the home of Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson, in south London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

If Johnson was so keen on people knowing about his policies, why did he remain virtually tight-lipped throughout the Parliamentary section of the campaign? The only thing of note he said was that achieving Brexit on October 31 was “eminently feasible” rather than a certainty – a considerable downgrading of his original remarks.

His performance, and that of his rivals among Parliamentarians was, to put the best light on things, a demeaning episode. The television interview was practically a wash-out, which attracted virtually no attention outside Westminster.

Now, people have seen something to talk about in this campaign. Even old-hands like Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, say Johnson’s private life and problems were of huge importance and not irrelevant in the case of a man who wants to lead the nation.

This domestic row has done him no good whatsoever and he will at least be thankful that it has occurred virtually at the beginning of the hustings campaign so that by the end, it may well have been forgotten. He should be so lucky.

• There is plainly a fine line in politics between being hailed as a hero or vilified as a bully or even a thug. Unfortunately for him, Tory MP Mark Field fell into the wrong category. His robust efforts to eject a female intruder from the Mansion House event, being addressed by the Chancellor Philip Hammond and attended by numerous other VIPs, has been denounced as an act of thuggery and he has been suspended from his ministerial post as a result.

But consider whether this woman could easily have been armed with a knife or firearm or an explosive, and Field instinctively removed her as she made her way to the front of the hall. In my opinion, he should be commended for an instinctive and speedy act of bravery rather than traduced as a thug.

If that woman had been carrying any kind of weapon, which Mark Field would not know about, he would have been hailed as a hero – but alas for him the reverse has been the case.

And whatever was going on at the entrance to the Mansion House to let intruders into this hugely prestigious event? Questions should immediately be asked of them and they should be held to account. I trust the enquiry into this event will reach those conclusions and restore him to his ministerial post.

• The Conservative Party may have its troubles but the Labour Party is also in a state of disarray over Brexit. The Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, has been campaigning for a second Referendum which Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has refused to even consider as Labour policy.

There is no love lost between Watson and Corbyn. This is very evident during Prime Minister’s Questions when Watson sits there, mute like a waxwork, showing no emotion whatsoever.

These two men are chalk and cheese and there is no sign of any accord between them, which merely makes it more difficult for Labour to display a united front in all it does.

Meanwhile the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, by far the most astute politician among the Labour leadership, seems to be making all the running, something which must disturb Corbyn more than somewhat.

So Labour, like the Conservatives, urgently needs someone to bang a few heads together and sort out what is now mixed up and contradictory policies.

In short the two main parties in Parliament are both in a state of shambles.