If a week is a long time in politics, the last seven days must have seemed an eternity to Boris Johnson. And an excruciatingly painful one.
Assailed on all sides over the growing list of rule-breaking Downing Street drinks parties, he gave every impression of a man falling into one of Dante’s circles of hell.
To a large extent, he is the architect of his own misfortune. It’s now abundantly clear that he and his staff openly and consistently flouted the strict lockdown rules they themselves decreed.
Understandably, the country is furious. Labour is in full sanctimonious cry and even among his own backbenchers there are calls for his resignation.
But today this newspaper asks, is it really in this country’s interests – or indeed those of the Tory party – for him to go?
DAILY MAIL COMMENT: If a week is a long time in politics, the last seven days must have seemed an eternity to Boris Johnson. And an excruciatingly painful one
We do not seek to minimise the hurt caused by the ‘Partygate’ revelations. These functions shouldn’t have happened and Mr Johnson bears ultimate responsibility.
However, his apology on Wednesday was sincere and showed genuine contrition. So it’s now for Cabinet Office mandarin Sue Gray to determine whether laws were broken as well as rules.
If early reports are accurate, her inquiry will censure those who allowed the parties to go ahead but fall short of recommending any police involvement.
The big question then is whether the PM can rise from the ashes. His Cabinet has rallied behind him in recent days, with the notable exception of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, whose ‘support’ has been suspiciously lukewarm.
Liz Truss, a potential leadership candidate, deserves credit for her show of loyalty yesterday, urging the country to accept her leader’s apology and ‘move on’.
Moving on, of course, is the last thing Labour and the rest of Mr Johnson’s enemies want.
They would rather see him mired in Partygate indefinitely, even though the honourable thing would be to let him focus all his energies on running the country at this critical time.
Almost bursting with puce-faced piety, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister on Wednesday of lacking all ‘moral authority’. Yet it now transpires that just days after the April 16 parties in Downing Street, Sir Keir was swigging beer with a gaggle of party members in a northern constituency office.
Risibly, he claims that it was ‘a work meeting’. The very defence he called ‘pathetic’ when Mr Johnson used it. What a shameless hypocrite!
DAILY MAIL COMMENT: But today this newspaper asks, is it really in this country’s interests – or indeed those of the Tory party – for him to go?
The BBC is also obsessed with bringing the PM down. Its flagship Today programme led its bulletins yesterday on Partygate, while the shocking story of a prominent Labour ex-minister being bankrolled by a Chinese spy was relegated to a subsidiary item. Impartiality – or naked bias?
In deciding Mr Johnson’s suitability to govern, voters and restive Tory MPs should ignore the bluster and consider where Britain is today, two years after the worst pandemic in modern history struck.
In a hugely significant moment, we learned yesterday that the economy has moved ahead of pre-Covid levels, while other European nations remain in the doldrums.
Omicron infections are falling across every region of the country, vindicating Mr Johnson’s courageous decision not to re-impose lockdown despite immense pressure from scientists and all opposition parties.
On most of the big decisions – vaccinations, jobs, protecting the economy, and of course Brexit, which allowed us to create our own brilliant vaccine programme while the EU dithered – he has been proved right.
Shouldn’t that be enough to persuade voters, angry as they have every right to be, to give him a second chance?