Will Conservative MPs grow a spine this week?

Prime Minister's Questions

Boris Johnson has, of course, used the shiniest, sharpest tool in his box to defend himself against the ever-growing ‘party gate’ scandal: the war in Ukraine. Conservative MPs, already briefed to deny the possibility of unseating the PM during a wartime scenario, stood behind him as he deflected Kier Starmer’s questioning by throwing Vladimir Putin’s name around like it was going out of style. Well, I suppose it is.

I’m with David Lammy on this one. Neville Chamberlain’s resignation and replacement by Johnson’s hero Winston Churchill, in the first year of World War 2, debunks the myth. The idea that this prime minister is irreplaceable during a war – in which Britain is not a belligerent – is fanciful.

We’ll have to wait and see, as with everything, but what we know already is quite damning: the prime minister has broken the law, and dozens of Tory MPs are willing to excuse that.

Rather than condemning Johnson for breaking his own rules, and misleading parliament about doing so, they’ve chosen reduction to absurdity. “The ways it’s been characterised, you would think there were pole dancers”, Tory MP Michael Fabricant retorted on Radio 5 – while they aren’t particularly expansive, the lockdown rules don’t mention erotic dance. Earlier this year, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said at least the PM had ‘not robbed a bank’, which is apparently the new benchmark for our country’s leaders.

It’s an interesting time, and may we live in it gleefully. Why not? This status quo of falsehoods, crimes and corruption has surrounded us slowly, but we’ve let it happen, too. So now, with some things we can only watch: will the wave of young Conservative MPs, elected in a Brexit fury, or the old guard, who remember a more principled politics, vote to investigate Boris Johnson for misleading parliament on Thursday? If – many believe ‘When’ – more fines are handed to Johnson for breaking lockdown rules, will any more letters of no confidence be handed into the 1922 committee?

Get your bets in, it’s time to see what the house is made of.

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