DAN HODGES: Boris Johnson boos show a Jubilee Blow is almost upon us

It was a particularly brutal version of an opinion poll. All of the VIPs arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen’s Thanksgiving service on Friday were subjected to an impromptu chorus of approval or disapproval by the waiting crowd. The biggest cheers were reserved for Kate and William, and – contrary to expectations – Meghan and Harry. Sir Keir Starmer ascended the stairs in apathetic silence.

And then there was the most significant public reaction. Boris and Carrie Johnson were greeted with sustained boos which drowned out a small handful of cheers.

The platinum jubilee was a triumph for the queen, the monarchy and the country. But for the British political class, it proved to be a trying experience. In fact, he cruelly exposed them.

Honor. Dignity. Consistency. Altruism. These slogans of Her Majesty’s 70 years of service are so many reproaches addressed to her 14th Prime Minister and current Leader of her Opposition.

DAN HODGES Boris Johnson boos show a Jubilee Blow is

The boos echoing on the steps of St Paul’s suggest Boris has gotten a major cut. Of the worst kind.

In the case of St Keir, the events of recent days have once again underscored its lack of authenticity. Last week he told the British people it was his ‘patriotic duty’ to embrace the celebrations. In a message to council leaders, he added: ‘That Britain has at all times rejected extremism is in large part due to our idea of ​​who we are as a people: an idea born of a sense of stability that cannot exist without strong institutions. ‘

How different from the Keir Starmer who was filmed in 2005 admitting he once supported the abolition of the monarchy and who last year rushed to align himself with Meghan Markle when she claimed to have been the victim of raw royal racism.

For many Labor MPs, this cynical pragmatism represents a welcome escape from the ideological straitjacket they were forced into during the Corbyn years. And the Labor leader has told his allies he sees realigning his party with the patriotic instincts of northern Red Wall voters as a key part of his electoral strategy.

But the problem is that Red Wall voters — and the country as a whole — see it too. They are not stupid. They know that Starmer’s dramatic transformation into John Bull of the liberal left is the product of opportunism, rather than genuine patriotism. And the perception of him as a man who will abandon, reject or deny any belief or principle of power, becomes cemented.

But if Sir Keir is struggling to break through with voters, the same cannot be said for Boris Johnson. The boos echoing on the steps of St Paul’s suggest he’s gotten a major cut. Of the worst kind.

Inside Number 10 there was hope that the Jubilee celebrations would act as a ‘firewall’ on the Prime Minister’s struggles. That our extended national party would draw a line under Covid lockdown, a line under Partygate, and provide a welcome distraction from the cost of living crisis.

But the reality is that the festival of thanks for the Queen’s decades of dedicated service couldn’t have come at a worse time. Or set a sharper contrast between his philosophy and that of those who live and work in Downing Street.

The most graphic comparison concerns the period of mourning for Her Majesty and the nation witnessed on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral – as Sue Gray’s report forensically detailed when she described how some at No. 10 had respected the loss of the queen.

“Shortly before 9.30pm, there were over 20 people present in the garden, along with a number of bottles of alcohol…several individuals gathered near a child’s swing/slide in the garden, damaging it by leaning on it and playing with it… Some individuals remained in the building and continued to drink alcohol until the early hours of the morning… Some left after midnight and others between 01:45 and 02:45. Two members of staff stayed later still, one leaving at 03:11 and the last at 04:20.

Boris – who was not present at the time – was forced to publicly apologize to Her Majesty. And until Friday, it was unknown how his contrition had been received.

In the case of St Keir, the events of recent days have once again underscored its lack of authenticity.

In the case of St Keir, the events of recent days have once again underscored its lack of authenticity.

In the case of St Keir, the events of recent days have once again underscored its lack of authenticity.

But at St Paul’s, he received from Buckingham Palace an excerpt from the New Testament focusing on the theme of integrity to read in front of millions of viewers. From Philippians 4:8, it says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is righteous, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is some excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things.

Notice the word “honourable”.

This weekend, Conservative MPs certainly took notice. In addition to boos given to a leader who is supposedly defined by his ability to reach parts of the electorate that other conservatives cannot.

“It would be strange if the people who went to St Paul were raging Republican socialists,” observed one rebel. “Those boos weren’t coming from the usual suspects. It’s not pretty when the Prime Minister affects the Jubilee. Another MP said: “I’m not sure if it’s leftovers and socialists who attend royal events. »

This is certainly not the case. That is why Conservative MPs are preparing to take action against their leader.

It is widely expected that when the House of Commons returns tomorrow, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, will announce that the 54-letter threshold to trigger a leadership race has been achieved.

“I think we have the numbers now,” a coup leader told me. “According to my figures, we have 67 people ready to submit a letter. I think it’s just a question of timing.

However, there is always the possibility that the plotters will once again remain in their hands. As one said to me, “Some people want to move now. But others think we have to wait for the by-elections [in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton on June 23]. The idea is that when we lose both seats it will be impossible for Boris and his allies to pretend he is still an asset on the doorstep.

But the consensus is that next week will see the Rubicon finally crossed. A Red Waller, who had previously dismissed the idea of ​​a contest, told me: ‘The conspiracy and the backstabbing are the worst since I entered Parliament. I see no way out.

So the Jubilee Coup is almost upon us.

And as I wrote here last week, it may be best for everyone. Clearly, there is no other way to draw a line under Partygate – or Tory internal discontent with the broader direction of government – ​​without having some kind of calculation.

Although it may be a broader calculation than some anticipate.

As a former cabinet minister told me, “We couldn’t play for higher stakes. If Boris wins a leadership vote, but there is a big vote against him, he will know that people will be coming back for him in a year. Then I’m told he’ll say, “OK, I don’t have a big mandate from the party. So I’m going to ask one of the British people. And it will call for a quick election.

It would be a huge bet. But a Boris Johnson showed he was ready to take forward when he rolled the dice and came up with a double six against Jeremy Corbyn. Although this 2019 election took place in a very different context and with very different opponents: the Brexit saboteurs and a Labor party led by a man who is not ashamed to defend his hard-line socialist principles.

Moreover, he was opposed by a very different Boris Johnson.

Yes, the Prime Minister and his fellow politicians can speak words of honor and integrity from the Bible. But they still have a long way to go before demonstrating that they can live with them.

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