I am really not sure whether I ended this weekend amused, bemused or outright concerned that Boris Johnson really is between some pretty nasty rocks and the proverbial hard place right now.
Politically his direction of travel is being cut off. Farage is back with a deeply populist position that leaves Johnson with no chance to tack further to the right. Thankfully.
At the same time there is also no way left for Johnson to make progress with key parts of the Internal Market Bill. President-elect Biden has made it clear that unless Johnson drops the clauses relating to Northern Ireland the special relationship is toast, or maybe something even more akin to those crumbs you have to clear out of a toaster every now and again.
But Johnson must also know that if he takes heed of that message then the ERG will grill him until he’s charred to the point of incineratation, and there remain enough of them to make his life very difficult indeed.
Add to that the fact that public trust in Johnson’s government has very clearly collapsed. The latest lockdown is being faced with both incomprehension and indifference as far as I can see, however necessary it may be. The government’s own incoherence has broken the social contract on this issue.
And Brexit has yet to really happen, as most seem to be forgetting, and will be a nightmare whatever deal is agreed, because we have quite literally none of the infrastructure to make any option, barring an emergency application to extend the transition, work right now.
Johnson has always built his career on lies. More recently to say that its foundations have been in sand would simply to be too kind to it: there has been no real foundation at all. And sometime very soon that fact, with the added element of the absence of Trump to provide cover, is going to become very clear indeed.
There are always, of course, ‘events’ that might help or hinder, but assuming nothing quite extraordinarily beneficial comes Johnson’s way, and all the portents are to the contrary, then it is hard to see what good cards he might have in his hand right now.
His foreign policy is completely shot.
So too is his domestic policy.
As is his economic policy.
Coronavirus is out of control, and that seems to be deliberate.
Tensions in the country are rising.
Finding any upside for him is hard. Not, I stress, that I am being sympathetic when saying so. All this is of his own making. And it is of his party’s too. They know the sort of man he was when choosing him.
But I look at all this and wonder how long that ruthless Tory machine will stick with such an obvious loser. It is just not their style to do so. Leaders who threaten the party are given short shrift by the Tories. And Johnson is threatening more than the party; he is threatening us all.
The question as to how long Johnson can now last has to be in the table. I continue to think it’s not long. Since I acknowledge that I may not much like any alternative to him that the Tories might select that is also not wishful thinking. That is simple analysis. Johnson has created an untenable position from which there is no credible or viable escape route, bar ditching him. And that is why I cannot see him surviving.