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Editorial: Johnson in denial of political reality

AFTER what can only be described as a remarkable day in British politics, Boris Johnson was last night apparently still refusing to bow to the inevitable and tender his resignation as prime minister.

His stubborn denial of political reality and deafness to the pleas of a majority of his own parliamentary party leaves Westminster in somewhat uncharted waters.

It has long been joked that the boy who wanted to be 'world king' would have to be forcibly evicted from Downing Street; that prospect was suddenly seeming not so outlandish.

Mr Johnson's days as prime minister were numbered after more than 40 per cent of his own MPs felt unable to express confidence in him in a vote last month.

Two crushing by-election defeats confirmed that the leader who won a thumping majority in 2019 had become an electoral liability, while his disastrous and dishonest handling of the Chris Pincher controversy finally convinced any doubters that his train wreck premiership must be brought to a conclusion.

His position was made untenable by an avalanche of government resignations yesterday, sparked by the departures of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid the night before. Indeed, Mr Johnson earned the unenviable record of suffering more ministerial resignations in one day than any prime minister in history.

However, despite this latest ignominy, and what can only be described as an intervention by some cabinet colleagues to persuade him that his time was up, Mr Johnson appeared somehow convinced last night that he could yet survive the storm as he has done on so many occasions before.

With MPs now prepared to take matters into their own hands by staging a further vote of confidence, the implications for Northern Ireland of Mr Johnson's eventual departure will ultimately depend on who replaces him in Downing Street.

The DUP, in particular, will be nervously waiting to see how the parliamentary chips fall, having painted itself into a corner with its Stormont boycott over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

During a previous scandal-ridden period of Conservative rule, the UK adopted the seven Nolan principles of public life to guide future administrations.

Set out on the government website, they commit anyone in public service to act with selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

On all seven counts Boris Johnson has utterly failed to meet these standards and his eviction from office will not be mourned.

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