His Prime Ministership In Tatters, Boris Johnson Now Displays Amazing Energy

Photograph Source: Matt Brown – CC BY 2.0

The former adviser [Dominic Cummings] told New York magazine Johnson was driven entirely by what would be in the papers the next day. “In January 2020 I was sitting in No 10 with Boris and the complete fuckwit is just babbling on about: ‘Will Big Ben bong for Brexit on 31 January?”

– The Guardian 30 Jan 2022

Boris “BoJo” Johnson has never been renowned for high-level exertion, except perhaps for his well-publicized sexual trysts.

At the first stage of the Covid-19 outbreak he skipped 5 successive meetings of the UK’s emergency management committee (COBRA), and while BoJo managed to put in appearances afterwards (especially when it came to photo ops in hospitals and vaccination centres), it was clear that the lack of diligence over detail and attention to process– missing in all his previous jobs– had carried over wholesale into his premiership.

Flunkeys, including nannies from his childhood, had always picked up the slack for BoJo.

The series of drip-drip revelations under the heading of Partygate, showed BoJo’s office/residence at No. 10 Downing Street to have been Party Central for at least 15 shindigs during some of the most intense phases of the pandemic, including a boisterous bash until the early hours on the night before the Queen’s husband’s funeral, during a period of national mourning.

Partygate was subjected to a civil service inquiry under one of its senior officials, Sue Gray, but just before Gray could release her findings to parliament, the Metropolitan Police— which happens to be the UK’s largest police force– said it was going to conduct a criminal investigation into the lockdown-breaking parties, after having said for months that it had no interest in doing so. It asked Gray to publish a highly redacted version of her report, so as not to “compromise” the Met investigation.

The Met request was greeted with fury in certain quarters, where it is viewed as an attempted establishment stitch-up and a shot at buying time for BoJo in his efforts to save his job.

The Met commissioner Cressida Dick has perhaps been the worst commissioner in living memory (and there have been a few duds), with repeated scandals involving racism and misogyny on the part of her officers, as she stands by helplessly.

Critics of the Met decision to request a redaction of the Gray report point out that Gray was following civil service (and not justice-system) guidelines in compiling it, that she had her own legal team to guide her through this process (and who would have advised her about the principle of double jeopardy, and so forth).

To be fair, defenders of the Met say Cressida Dick may have asked the Gray report to be redacted to reduce opportunities for collusion among suspects or to obviate prejudice to its investigations.

His job now in peril, BoJo and his acolytes sought to save his job by launching Operation Big Dog (soon renamed Dead Dog by cynics).

This operation was accompanied by the usual PR flummery, but also by an astonishing burst of energy and initiative from Big Dog, who chose the name himself apparently.

Widely regarded as a deadbeat foreign secretary (BoJo served in this capacity under Theresa May from 2016-18), Big Dog now somehow miraculized himself into the “leader” of diplomatic efforts seeking a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the “leader” of other domestic initiatives.

+ BoJo announced a visit to Ukraine.

+ He is expected to speak to Putin by phone this week.

+  He said he had ordered the military to prepare to help strengthen Europe’s borders, by doubling the number of troops deployed there. Defensive weapons could also be sent to Estonia.

+ BoJo will also travel to Brussels to meet NATO member counterparts early in February.

+ He also directed foreign secretary Liz Truss and defence secretary Ben Wallace to prepare to go to Moscow for talks with their counterparts in the coming days.

+ Wallace is expected to meet with allies this week in Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia on BoJo’s behalf.

Big Dog will be a fool if he does not realize that other leaders, Putin especially, will be fully aware that he’s up-and-about only because he’s sitting on the Partygate ticking time-bomb. This will doubtless be factored-in when they have their chats with the suddenly animated but endlessly distracted British canine.

+ On the domestic front, the government announced “extra funding” for poorer parts of the UK, saying 20 towns and cities would benefit from a “new £1.5bn/$2.1bn brownfield fund”, which “will benefit from developments combining housing, leisure and business in sustainable, walkable beautiful new neighbourhoods”. But when the Observer newspaper contacted the Treasury to ask if its ministers had signed-off on the promised £1.5bn, the department making the announcement did a volte-face and admitted that the “new” fund was not new money at all but would come from levelling-up funds that had been announced by the chancellor/finance minister, Rishi Sunak, in his spending review several months ago. In a nutshell: recycled old money was being used to save Big Dog’s job.

+ Big Dog has a long history of having his flunkeys take the fall for him when he screws up. He has already told angry MPs he would oversee a full clear-out of No 10 staff, presumably with those issuing BYOB invitations, making the beer and wine runs, those found lying face-down in the Downing Street rose beds, etc., getting the axe.

Big Dog’s troubles continue on other fronts. His former mistress, the US “entrepreneur” and model Jennifer Arcuri, has handed hundreds of pages of notes and documents to officials at the Greater London Authority (GLA) overseeing 2 separate investigations into their affair, with a focus on whether he had used “public funds to win her affections”. Big Dog does not deny the facts of the case, but says he had “done nothing wrong”.

As for the former Rasputin-like adviser Dominic Cummings? He described his “duty to get rid” of his former boss as prime minister as “sort of like fixing the drains”.


Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.