“It’s over!”… “He’s forgotten the electorate”… “Who cares?”
These are some of the more polite ways that cabinet ministers have responded to Boris Johnson’s recent behaviour.
The prime minister who is, publicly, as controlled as they come, revealed a flash of polite irritation telling me – in the interview you can watch on this page – that she is “cross” with the things he said.
Trust me, the things that people in government have been saying about him privately are often far worse than that.
The view of some of Mr Johnson’s former colleagues is that he is a charlatan, who never showed that he could do the work needed, to show the responsibility required, to make decisions that would affect the lives the public.
There are numerous anecdotes of how the former foreign secretary would make promises he never kept, wouldn’t properly focus on the documents, the detail, that came across his desk in one of the highest offices in the land.
However, in a moment of proper candour, another of his former colleagues who knows him well, told me that the truth is, “we’re all a bit jealous”.
That’s the crux. You may not trust Boris Johnson to run a bath, let alone the country.
But just as in the Vote Leave campaign, we saw today that there is a constituency of people who want to hear him, who want to watch him, who care what he thinks and find that what he says inspires them.
And on a serious point, that’s not soap opera, some insiders close to the Brexit negotiations agree with him that the prime minister’s Chequers proposal is not going to work.
The government’s official position of course is that it is the only offer that’s workable and deliverable, and many ministers believe it can be at least the basis for a final deal.
But today, baldly, one minister told me: “Chequers is dead, and the prime minister will have to pivot.”
That’s why although his colleagues, and No 10, are more and more annoyed about his behaviour, he brought the Tory conference to life today, and why Boris Johnson cannot be ignored.
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