Editorial: A chaotic and ruthless Boris Johnson ends up isolated in Parliament, but he could yet return

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News Letter editorial on Tuesday June 20 2023:

In any normal political era Boris Johnson's political career would be over. But this is not a normal political era in the western world. Leaders come and go with astonishing regularity. Australia has had six prime ministers in a decade. Some of them break every political rule in the book. Donald Trump is the favourite in the race to become the Republican Party nominee for next year's presidential election, yet the former president has been found liable for sexual assault, is facing 37 criminal charges relating to highly classified records and gave succour to an invasion of America's parliament, Capitol Hill, after peddling lies that he had won the 2020 US presidential election.

Yesterday it became clearer why Mr Johnson, who only months ago was prime minister, decided to resign as an MP. Not only did he quit on the verge of publication of the Partygate committee report finding that he lied to parliament, not only was he about to face suspension from the House of Commons, but he had minimal support within his own Tory parliamentary party. The committee report was endorsed yesterday by a huge majority of MPs. But Mr Johnson will draw succour from the fact that more Conservative MPs abstained than backed the findings. Only seven Tories actually opposed it.

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Mr Johnson still has resonance with voters. For that reason his return cannot be discounted. But his tenure in Downing St showed him to be ill suited as a premier, even if he was a deep political thinker who had, for all his chaos, an ability to get things done. Yet there are many ways to illustrate his self serving and ruthless side, but none so stark as the way he travelled to Belfast to undermine his leader Theresa May, and pledged to the DUP never to introduce a regulatory or customs border in the Irish Sea – only to agree to both when he got her job.