There was a symbolic moment on Thursday that you didn’t need to be a filmmaker of Fellini proportions to know the subtext of.
Helen Morgan, a Liberal Democrat candidate in the North Shropshire by-election, heard she had won and proceeded to burst a massive balloon that had the words ‘Boris’ Bubble’ written on it.
And she had every right to be in a bullish mood. She had just won a ministerial seat that the Conservative Party has held for nearly two centuries!
Not only that, Morgan managed to overturn the Tory stranglehold and win by a staggering 5,925 seat majority in football terms, this was a 6-0 thrashing.
The message was clear for all to see. This was the voting public telling Boris Johnson and the Conservatives that their corruption, their sleaze, their lies will not be tolerated any longer.
It’s the kind of message that can see Prime Ministers lost the confidence of their cabinet….
Not In a Party Mood
Any plans Boris might have had for his annual Christmas knees-up – whether the rules allow it or not – may just be shelved.
He’s a busy man. Having just become a father for the….well, having just become a father once more, the PM will be seeking salvation in his family life. Because his professional life is not exactly going to plan right now.
Johnson is beginning to lose the trust of his colleagues – including key figures that have supported his ascent from bumbling ministerial buffoon to one of the most powerful figures in the United Kingdom.
He gave a pretty bad-tempered interview to Sky News earlier, when he suggested that the focus of the media was somehow to blame for the defeat. “I think that people are frustrated and I understand that….basically what’s been going wrong is that in the last few weeks some things have been going very well, but what the people have been hearing….is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn’t about them, and isn’t about the things that we can do to make life better,” he said.
The Tory 1922 committee chairman, Roger Gale, called the by-election result a ‘referendum on the PM’s performance’ and that Boris was at ‘last order’s time’, claiming that ‘one more strike and he is out’. To continue the drinking theme, the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed that the PM was in the ‘last chance saloon’.
We’re still some way away from a vote of no confidence being recorded, you would think, but remember that more than 100 Tory MPs voted against his plans for Covid passports earlier this week.
Opposition is growing, and Boris will need to keep his nose clean for a good few weeks and months to stave off the threat of a leadership battle.
As we know, we’re a good few years away from the next General Election, and the government will be in no rush to expedite a return to the polls given their recent woes.
The betting public had been supporting Boris up until recently, but the North Shropshire result – matched by the latest polls, which suggest Labour have a four or five point cushion – have led punters to start to get stuck into the beleaguered PM.
One week ago, the odds on Boris leaving 10 Downing Street in July 2022 or later were 1.33 on the Betfair Exchange….now he is 1.58. Still a comfortable odds-on shout, but the market is wavering. And the next bet grouping in the market is January-March 2022, which has overtaken April-June 2022 into second place.
In October 2022, the Conservatives will hold their annual conference. Will Boris still be PM by then? The betting market says yes….but only just. His odds on the exchange have slipped from 1.50 to 1.85 after a torrid couple of weeks.
A fortnight from hell for the PM has manifested itself in the General Election markets too. They’re out to 1.62 from 1.48 to get the most seats next time out at the polls, and a Conservative majority has slipped to 2.76 from 1.73.
It will have senior Tories spooked, and tighten the grip of fear around a Prime Minister who appears to have completely lost his aura of power.