We desperately need a government who will say it: Britain is still reeling from Covid
Of all the factions and cliques in and around the modern Conservative party, none is grimmer than the small gang who think that Boris Johnson is the victim of conspiracies involving the fabled blob, and that the condition of their party and, indeed, the country would be a thousand times better if only he was still in Downing Street.
Even now, a hardcore of Johnson cultists still reportedly think he could sooner or later return to the Tory leadership. A few of his other disciples acknowledge for now, at least that such dreams are probably over, but still devotedly try to defend him. The latest nadir was reached last week, after news broke of his referral to the police by civil servants in relation to even more alleged breaches of Covid regulations.
One Johnson ally told the Daily Telegraph that if the government has tried to report Boris to the police for entirely lawful activity (Team Boris seems to suspect the involvement of deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden and the paymaster general, Jeremy Quin), Rishi Sunak may face a spate of byelections. Three Tory MPs could trigger them by summarily standing down: the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, the COP26 president Alok Sharma, and Nigel Evans, the Tory MP for Ribble Valley. Just to underline the principled nature of any such move, all are said to be nominated for peerages in Johnsons resignation honours list.