Dominic Cummings may be out for revenge, but his account of Boris Johnson’s fatal character flaws was tragically believable
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world in which Boris Johnson can be prime minister. Plenty of people have been saying that, and for a long time, but it was fresh to hear it from the man who played such an instrumental role in installing Mr Johnson at Number 10 in the first place and then keeping him in Downing Street. “It’s just completely crackers… that Boris Johnson is in there,” remarked Dominic Cummings in the course of his marathon testimony in parliament. He also declared it “crazy” that someone like himself could have acquired such a powerful position in government, one point on which everyone can agree.
The fault lies not in the stars, but with the Conservative party. Coming up to two years ago, when the Tories were looking for a new leader, they decided that the only thing that mattered to them was improving their chances of winning an election. The potential popularity and campaign skills of leadership candidates are always significant factors when parties choose a new chief, but it is usual for some other criteria to be included in the assessment. Criteria such as competence, professionalism, grip, integrity and trustworthiness. Knowing that Mr Johnson was a terrible fail on all those scores, Tories chose him anyway. Many of them knew that he was extremely ill-qualified to be prime minister, but they held their noses and crossed the Johnson box nevertheless. That was the Faustian bargain they struck. They got themselves someone who was good for winning an election and bad at every aspect of governing.