Archive for the 'Boris' Category


A man of principles. Boris Johnson and the EU

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

If consistency is the sign of a small mind, then Boris Johnson must have a brain the size of a planet. For he has slid from position to position on the EU like Bambi on ice.

In 2003, he opened a speech to the House of Commons, in which he advocated Turkish membership of the EU, thus: 

“It is hard to think of a measure that the Government could have brought to the House that I could support more unreservedly and with greater pleasure than this Bill to expand the European Union. To sum up my response, I would merely say, “And about time too.” 

He went on to confirm: “I am not by any means an ultra-Eurosceptic. In some ways, I am a bit of a fan of the European Union. If we did not have one, we would invent something like it.”

By 2012 he was already flirting with Euroscepticism. Nevertheless, he was at pains to reassure the public that his vision meant that: “We could construct a relationship with the EU that more closely resembled that of Norway or Switzerland – except that we would be inside the single market council, and able to shape legislation”. He confirmed in 2013 that he would vote to stay in the single market and that he was in favour of it.

In early 2016 he famously wrote two articles, one in favour of Leave and one in favour of Remain, before plumping for team Brexit.  

Vote Leave chose to prioritise immigration control over access to the single market in their ultimately-successful campaign, demonising the Turks that Boris Johnson himself had previously campaigned in Parliament to allow into the EU. Nevertheless, Boris Johnson still hankered after his earlier position, stating even in the wake of the referendum result that Britain could have access to the single market (something that was rapidly squelched from Brussels).

Negotiations with the EU did not go well. Still, in July 2017 he announced with his sunny optimism that “There is no plan for no deal, because we’re going to get a great deal”. He did not help with the negotiating process. In the same speech he said that the EU could “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay a settlement on withdrawing from the EU.

Britain nevertheless agreed to make a payment to settle its obligations in September 2017 and in December 2017 he congratulated the Prime Minister’s successful negotiation of the first stage (which included an agreement to this payment, the foundations of the Northern Irish backstop and protections for EU citizens in Britain). As late as March 2018, he opined that “The PM’s Mansion House speech sets out a clear and convincing vision for our future partnership with the EU”. He wobbled back and forth for the first half of 2018, with his apotheosis being first to toast the Chequers proposal and then, three days later (after David Davis had resigned), to resign over it.

In September 2018, he described the Chequers plan as “substantially worse than the status quo”. He maintained that position when the final deal emerged in November 2018, describing it even before its release as “vassal state stuff”.  Despite that, Boris Johnson eventually voted for it in March 2019 at the third time of asking.

In March 2019 and April 2019, Britain twice confirmed to the EU (in return for obtaining an extension to the Article 50 notice period) that it would not seek to reopen negotiations over the withdrawal agreement.

Boris Johnson secured leadership of the Conservative party and with it the Premiership, campaigning on leaving the EU on 31 October 2019, deal or no deal. He now argues that this is required to respect the referendum result, despite having wafted away the idea of no deal as late as a year after the referendum result.

It is against that background that we must assess Boris Johnson’s current line on the EU. His workrate has declined. He wrote two articles in 2016 before deciding how to campaign in the referendum. This month, he wrote only half a letter to the EU setting out his revised position.

He sets out his objections but does not propose a solution. The backstop that formed part of the interim deal that he had once congratulated the Prime Minister on is now described as “anti-democratic”. He wants the problem to be looked at in the next phase. He recognises that “there would need to be a degree of confidence about what would happen if these arrangements were not all fully in place at the end of that period. We are ready to look constructively and flexibly at what commitments might help”.

When you’re looking to rewrite an agreement – especially one that your side has specifically agreed twice that it will not seek to rewrite –it’s usually best to have a clear proposal that your weary negotiating partners can weigh. And when you’re looking to build confidence – especially when you have skidded all over the place on a subject – you need to have a simple and compelling proposition. Since his government also simultaneously appears to be undermining the protections offered to EU citizens in Britain that had previously been agreed by a government he formed part of, it is hard to take this latest development remotely seriously.  

Boris Johnson is many things but he is not stupid. He will not have high hopes that this initiative will result in changes to the withdrawal agreement. His hopes lie elsewhere. He has spent the best part of 20 years telling the British public on the subject of the EU whatever he thinks will best serve his interests.  Given his track record, you might well think that he is insulting the British public’s intelligence. Sadly, it seems only too likely that he has its accurate measure.

Alastair Meeks


Small minds and Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn’s latest gambit

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

His letter’s a strategic mistake

The real fight starts here. Jeremy Corbyn has written to other opposition party leaders suggesting that if he calls a vote of no confidence in the government, he stands ready to lead a temporary government to obtain an extension to the Article 50 notice and then call a general election.

Perplexingly, this ecumenical offer has met with a cool reception. The Lib Dems have given him the thumbs down on the ground that he would lack the necessary support. The Greens are willing to vote for him but have asked him whether he would support someone else if he failed to gather the necessary support. The remnants of Change UK, who still comprise 5 MPs, have described this as a stunt (given they weren’t copied in on the letter, you can understand why they were miffed).

Jeremy Corbyn stakes his claim to lead such a government on the basis that he leads the second largest party in Parliament. It is his only claim to that role.  

He has shown all the leadership on Brexit of a damp dishcloth. He has dismayed his party with his reluctance to entertain the idea of revisiting the referendum result. The Labour leadership’s policy contortions have led them to the position that they would renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and put that to a referendum, while reserving the right to support or oppose it. The EU might see a negotiation where you are maintaining the right to oppose it in a referendum as bad faith, but that is evidently a secondary consideration to the perceived need to triangulate on Brexit.

He has already lost control of his Parliamentary party, especially on Brexit.  Tom Watson is already working with the Lib Dems. He no doubt does so with the backing of many of his fellow Labour MPs.

He is catastrophically unpopular with the public. If Boris Johnson wanted a poster child for the opponents of Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn would be that man.  Leavers are prepared to countenance the break-up of the union, the destruction of the Conservative party and the slaughter of the first-born in order to secure Brexit. The one thing they are not prepared to countenance is Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. He would be delighted to go into a general election after such a temporary coalition. His opponents would be shackling themselves to a corpse.

So even the most ardent Corbynite is going to struggle to keep a straight face when arguing that the only conceivable leader of a government to extend the Article 50 notice is Jeremy Corbyn.  

The whole debate is in any case misconceived. The small minds are discussing people. Let’s get back to the idea, which is what great minds should be discussing. The idea is to stop a no deal Brexit taking place without a mandate. If all those arguing are serious about stopping a no deal Brexit without mandate, the person to get the top job should be the person most capable of ensuring that.

If that is accepted, the question should then be who that person would be.  The reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s kite-flying has shown that it is not him.  

Jeremy Corbyn has made a strategic mistake writing his letter now. He must have been aware that he would struggle to put together a rainbow coalition behind him. He has made his gambit too early and as such he has made it too easy for others to move onto alternative candidates and ask Labour figures why they would be unable to support them. If he had written his letter on the return of Parliament, he may have been alternativeless.

So who might act as a suitable placeholder for temporary Prime Minister? The critical point to note is that if it is not going to be Jeremy Corbyn, any candidate who is going to succeed in commanding a majority in the House of Commons is going to have to be someone who is acceptable to him. He is going to have a lot of agency. We can immediately on that basis exclude Jo Swinson (a dangerous political rival) and any leading Labour figure who might eclipse him in the role. You can safely lay her on Betfair at anything like current prices.

The possibilities are therefore unthreatening leaders of minor parties or clapped-out grandees. Jeremy Corbyn has good relations with Caroline Lucas and there would be the collateral advantage that if the Greens did well it would be at least partly at the Lib Dems’ expense. You can back her at 66/1 with Ladbrokes for next Prime Minister (I previously backed her at 100/1).

You can get 200/1 on Liz Saville-Roberts, leader of Plaid Cymru at Westminster. Ladbrokes haven’t yet listed Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP at Westminster, but you might take a punt on either of these if you can at suitable odds – both might represent experienced politicians who seem lacking in danger for those they need to corral. The truly adventurous might consider Lady Sylvia Hermon at 200/1, who doesn’t even have a party. She is not, however, a fan of Jeremy Corbyn and since he is a man to bear grudges, this is one long shot bet I don’t fancy.

More likely, it is going to be a grandee. Jo Swinson suggested Ken Clarke, which is almost certainly the kiss of death for his chances.  I wouldn’t touch him at the current odds of 25/1 (and have laid him on Betfair). It’s hard to imagine Jeremy Corbyn supporting any Conservative.

So look to senior Labour figures.  Margaret Beckett or Ed Miliband (both so far unlisted by Ladbrokes, though you can back Margaret Beckett on Betfair at 55 at the time of writing) are both possibilities. Much will depend on personal affection, I suspect. Insiders are at a definite advantage here.

In truth, such a government remains unlikely. If it is going to happen, it needs Labour support and some flexibility from them. So plan your betting accordingly.

Alastair Meeks


An unconventional carry-on

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

Never mind what the government should do: what will it do?

Ravi Ashwin might not be the first name you think of as being of particular relevance to the Brexit denouement this October. However, his dismissal of Josh Buttler in the IPL this March is an excellent example of one side playing to the rules while the other played to the conventions of the game – and who went on to lose.

Too much of the commentary around what’s likely to happen this September and October in the clash between the forces in parliament determined to stop a No Deal Brexit and a government driving for precisely that, has concentrated on precedent, convention and the spirit of the game. I think that, like Buttler, they’re making a serious error. Johnson and Cummings have little respect for these conventions and even less incentive to follow them: if they can ignore them, they will. Both neutral analysts / commentators, and opponents of the government’s policy therefore need to change their way of thinking.

What does that mean in practice? We can assume that at some point when parliament resumes, Jeremy Corbyn will table another Motion of No Confidence in the government, not least because he’s effectively said that he will. There may be some initial parliamentary skirminshing before then but numbers and processes make it extremely difficult for anything to come of it, not least because Labour has little incentive to play along with lesser processes when the prospect of ousting the government is in sight.

However, the first question we should ask in this new mind-set is will the government even allow the No Confidence motion to be tabled? The convention is that a VoNC from the Leader of the Opposition is always accepted and debated the next sitting day. However, this is only a convention and the government isn’t obliged to make time. It cannot be overstated how important it is in this process that the government controls the parliamentary agenda.

The answer, however, is that it almost certainly will make time – not because of the conventions but because of raw politics. Leave aside that there’d be the most almighty furore, the Opposition is not without options, most notably an appeal to the Speaker for an emergency debate under Standing Order 24. These debates are within the gift of the Speaker, not the government.

Traditionally, the motions in these debates are simply that the House has considered the issue in question but Speaker Bercow isn’t a great one for tradition either (or only when it suits him), and strongly hinted in March that the usual wording is not compulsory. In other words, Bercow might very well allow an emergency debate on a FtPA-worded Confidence vote if the government unreasonably refused to schedule a debate tabled in the usual way. Indeed, such a move might work strongly against the government, which often has ministers scattered around the country and world, because the Speaker can schedule them for later on the day that the application is made, and the debates are limited to three hours. An effective opposition whipping operation could therefore put the government at a serious disadvantage – so the government won’t risk it.

Let’s assume then that the Confidence vote is lost, although this is far from an assured outcome. At the last No Confidence vote, in January, Theresa May won by 19 votes and while there’ve been defections and resignations since, we (and Labour) can’t assume that all independents will necessarily vote against the government. Some may abstain while others (Sylvia Hermon and Charlie Elphicke, for example) are likely to back Johnson. Corbyn is likely to need at least 5 Tory rebels to carry the vote: a high tariff.

Still, let’s run with that because it’s where the uncertainty lies (if Johnson wins the vote, he and his policy become effectively untouchable until a new VoNC). Some have suggested that Johnson should (or even must) resign if it’s likely that someone else could command a majority government. These suggestions miss the point that while constitutional convention indicates that he should, the law does not – again, we’re in a rules vs spirit of the game contest.

So can he simply sit things through, using the government’s powers (and he would still be PM, despite the defeat), to see off challenges? I don’t think so – though again, we’d be piling crisis on crisis. Some of his supporters assert that a PM, defeated in a confidence vote, has always had the choice of resigning or seeking an election and hence it’s perfectly legitimate to ‘choose’ an election under the FtPA by shutting down debate and running down the clock. The assertion, unsurprisingly, is wrong. A PM – especially one that parliament has just rejected – has never had the right to a dissolution, just the right to request it. The Queen has the power to say ‘no’, and the Lascelles Principles define when she should do so.

It had been assumed that the FtPA put Lascelles into abeyance but if a PM sought to argue a right to an election (and hence a right to block parliamentary action within the 14 days), then they come back into play. In effect, if the monarch is confident that another government could be formed from within the existing parliament then she would be within her right – indeed, it would be her duty – to dismiss the PM and invite that alternative person to form a government. Even so, politicians usually avoid bringing the Queen directly into politics; this would be to drag her right to the centre of the storm – something that she’d hate (but then that’s the point: if the Palace is reluctant to act then that favours the forces of inertia).

Whether that scenario applies in 2019 is another matter. The opposition might just unite to reject Boris but can they agree on an alternative within the 14 days? If not, the election campaign would block out most if not all of the time until Brexit Day anyway. For that matter, if it doesn’t look like an alternative could be found, that severely limits the incentive for Tories to rebel at the initial No Confidence vote.

I don’t see any more than one option, in reality. For all the talk of Yvette Cooper, Hilary Benn, Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke and so on, the crucial figure is Jeremy Corbyn: without him, nothing happens – and Corbyn will not play second fiddle to anyone in his party (he’s the one with the double leadership election mandate, thank you), or outside it when his MPs outnumber all other parties combined by about 3½-to-1. But then if MPs are so keen to stop a No Deal Brexit, why wouldn’t they accept a brief Corbyn government which existed solely in order to extend the A50 period again, if it was the only option?

Two more conventions have been raised as binding the government at this point: the commitment not to make any major policy changes while effectively a ‘caretaker’ government, and not to make any major or controversial announcements during the purdah of an election campaign. Again, don’t assume anything: it doesn’t much matter what the Cabinet Manual says is conventional or expected – the only thing that will matter is what is required. There’s no legal requirement to act so impartially.

That means that there’s no requirement to request an extension Article 50, an act which would be politically suicidal for Johnson. If he doesn’t have to do it, he won’t, no matter how loud the complaints. (On this point at least, I have some sympathy – not only is the default already set in law but parliament would have had two weeks to find an alternative outcome and would have failed to do so).

Put simply, I think it’s entirely possible that over the next three months we could see any one or more of the government trying to manipulate parliament’s timetable to deny assumed opposition rights; failing to resign after being No Confidenced, even if someone else could form a government; or making controversial decisions (or inactions) during an election campaign. Those wanting to stop it need to understand that it’s not that the rules of the game have changed; it’s how those rules are interpreted and (self-)enforced.

David Herdson


The political backcloth to current events is that the majority of those who have a view think Brexit is wrong

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Cummings/Johnson don’t have public opinion on their side

There was a time when the Brexit tracker in every new Times/YouGov poll would get reported and discussed with people trying to read something into the changes week on week. That’s now long gone. Public opinion as measured by this tracker has remained pretty constant for “wrong” with over the past year the lead being mostly in a range of 6-11 points.

Clearly those answering that Brexit was wrong have a very wide range of views about what should happen next. They go, I guess, from the hardline revoke now to supporters of the People’s Votes right through to those who think that they’re entirely sick of it all and just want the government to get on with getting the UK out of the EU.

Of course you can ask all sorts of different questions but the core belief element found in the tracker remains solid.

The fact remains that the notion of Brexit itself is not supported by the majority something you would never guess by the rhetoric of either Theresa May or now BJohnson.

This is why, I would suggest, it would be politically dangerous for the new prime minister to go to the country on the basis of a no deal Brexit with all that entails. That Johnson has started his term of PM in negative leader ratings territory could all be an indication of the overall view on Brexit.

To expect the public to deal with the sacrifices of a No Deal in this context would lead, possibly, to a general election outcome that would surprise everyone.

A big reason why Labour did surprisingly well at the 2017 General Election was that a significant number of Remain voters thought that the best way they could impede Brexit on that day was by supporting Corbyn’s party even though they disliked it. This was in spite of the fact that Labour manifesto was in favour.

Mike Smithson


The Brexit betting moves closer and closer to no deal – now a 40% chance

Friday, August 9th, 2019

Time to be betting that Johnson is bluffing?

The chart of movements on the Betfair exchange shows how punters are getting more and more convinced that here will be a no deal Brexit in 2019. This covers the past four months when so much has happened in British politics and no doubt things will be even more turbulent in the weeks ahead.

At the moment I’m not convinced enough to bet. The huge down-side of a no deal exit, the threats to food supplies, vital medicines and to whole industries that rely on easy access in and out of the continent mean that Johnson is going to be a brave man indeed because he will be seen as the one to blame.

The plans for mass slaughters British farm animals or the threat to food supplies would put a huge pressure on the PM no matter what Cummings is saying. The run up to October 31st could see panic buying and create chaos on a scale last seen during the 2000 fuel crisis when for a brief time Hague’s Tories led against Blair’s LAB in the polls

This I believe is a negotiating tactic and the betting indicates that punters are starting to believe it. There’ll come a point when this is worth laying.

Mike Smithson


It took 330 days before TMay’s “best PM” rating dropped below 40% – Boris has done it within a fortnight

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

Comparing the new man with his predecssor

With all the numbers coming out about the new government it is perhaps worth looking at how Johnson and his team are comparing with Theresa May for the period starting when she became prime minister in July 2016.

Although the voting intention polling is looking pretty sound for the Conservatives a worry might be the leader ratings that Boris Johnson has been getting since assuming the keys of number 10.

One question pollsters asked repeatedly is who would make the best Prime Minister and generally the comparison is with the leader of the opposition. Here, as shown in the chart, it is worth noting that Theresa May enjoyed figures of 40% to 50% for the first 330 days of being at number 10. Boris Johnson, in his first numbers from YouGov, managed to get 42% but the latest, out today has him down below 39%. So he’s down in a fortnight to the level it took look for nearly a year for Theresa May to get to.

Of course this is only one poll although the same broad ratings picture has been seen in the recent Opinium and Ipsos-MORI polls

The great plus of the Tories is that Jeremy Corbyn continues to lead the Labour Party and and has been continuing to receive poor polling ratings of all sorts from posters across the board. I know that many LAB supporters are hopeful that in the context of a general election, when the broadcasters have to be more balanced, that their man might start to do better. After all that is what happened in 2017.

Maybe it will maybe it won’t. That was then this is now and the political environment has very much changed.

Mike Smithson


Do or Die? The trap the PM has set himself

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

In all the reactions to the Times front page about the possibility of Johnson staying on as PM even if Parliament passes a VoNC in him and prefers someone else who can command the House, two absences were notable: (1) no immediate denial by No 10; and (2) no outrage by the official Opposition at the prospect of what would seem to be an appalling breach of normally understood conventions, moreover ones which would normally benefit the opposition.

After all, if the PM has lost confidence it is usually the opposition which benefits. Perhaps this silence by Labour is because they do not believe that Johnson would be so silly. Or perhaps, more alarmingly, it is because they are not too bothered about a Tory government ignoring conventions. After all, if the Tories (who are meant to be conservative after all) can do it, why can’t Labour ignore those conventions they find inconvenient in pursuit of their interpretation of what the People?

Well, the issue may never arise. In the interminable Brexit saga, waiting for a successful VoNC or indeed any effective action by those MPs determined to stop a No Deal exit is a bit like waiting for Godot – lots of agonised, pointless talk, very little action.

But there is one other convention and possibility which ought to be considered more seriously than it has been. When elections are called, governments go into a form of suspended animation – purdah – during which no new or controversial government initiatives should be announced or enacted, particularly not if they could be seen to be advantageous to a particular party. This impacts the governing party of course, far more than others. The government needs to continue running matters and will even have to deal with unexpected events (the Manchester Arena bombing during the 2017 election, for instance). But what it cannot do is anything new, anything which changes the status quo.

And the reason for this is obvious and sensible: the election will determine who governs. The time for new initiatives and irreversible decisions is once that government is elected. The voters should have their say first.  After all, they might decide to throw out the old government and demand a radically different direction.

This convention is not set out in any Act of Parliament; it is not law; it is a well-established understanding underpinned by ministerial guidance and established practice. It has moral authority. Its force comes from the fact that to do otherwise would be to second guess the wishes of the voters, to treat their right to take the decision as to who will be the government with contempt.

So let’s imagine that Johnson, whether by choice or as a result of a VoNC, calls for a General Election on a date after 31 October. As it currently stands, on that date, Britain is set to leave the EU without any form of transitional deal. Let’s assume that the departure is a smooth one, that there is no chaos or economic shock so that there is no need for Cobra meetings or for government ministers to put on their yellow jackets and wellies marching round the countryside looking authoritative. Isn’t this change the status quo? It has after all been on the statute book since the Act triggering Article 50 was passed. Why shouldn’t it go ahead as planned?

But hang on: the very strong likelihood is that the election will be happening either in order to get a specific mandate for a No Deal Brexit or because the government has lost a VoNC and no-one else has been able to command a majority. The question of what sort of Brexit there should be or, indeed, whether to Brexit at all will be a very live issue in that election.  It is possible that a government could be elected with a specific mandate not to Brexit at all or to get a deal on a different basis to May’s Withdrawal Agreement. A No Deal Brexit may be explicitly rejected by the voters.

To implement it while the electorate is still making up its mind would be to render the election largely pointless. Unlike many other government decisions such an action cannot be reversed.

Once out of the EU, Britain’s ability to revoke Article 50 and remain a member on the same terms as before will have been irrevocably removed, even if this is the express wish of the electorate.  Sure – Britain could apply to rejoin but this is a different process and likely to be on different terms.  And a decision to remain on existing terms is different to a decision to rejoin on different terms.  It is perfectly possible to envisage voters who might be willing to do the former but not the latter.

So if continuing with a No Deal Brexit is not the status quo, what is to be done?  The obvious answer is for the government to seek an extension of Article 50 until after the result of the election so all of Britain’s options in relation to EU membership are kept until the people have voted.  What would be the problem with this?  After all, if a Tory government is returned with a majority then it is free to exit on a No Deal basis, with only a slight delay.  If, on the other hand, a government is elected which wants to do something different, then it can do so.

Well, we all know what the problem is.  Johnson has promised to leave on 31 October unconditionally.  A request for an extension is an act which may well harm the Tories’ electoral prospects among some of the voters. It might be seen as aiding the electoral prospects of other parties. It will be controversial. And it will mean that the EU will find itself inserted directly into the heart of a current member’s election campaign.  This is in itself controversial whatever side of the Brexit debate you are on. A decision to refuse an extension would show a certain contempt for the voters,  though the EU may not care.  More likely, it would feel pressure to grant the extension precisely because of the possibility of a change of a mind.  Whatever happens, it will impact the relationship between Britain and the EU in ways which may make it even harder to achieve – eventually – a reasonably harmonious equilibrium.

And yet, despite all these difficulties, surely the balance of risk points to a request for an extension precisely because it preserves the ability of whichever side of the Brexit debate wins to implement the voters’ wishes.  An exit during an election closes off options. An extension preserves them.

What an extension does do, though, is highlight the conflict between what is in the voters’ interests – giving them the say – and what is in the Tory party’s interests – avoiding the charge of betrayal and broken promises that will surely be hurled at them by Farage and his followers.  A conflict created not over a matter of substance but over a date.  It should be easy enough to say that a delay of 2-3 weeks is nothing to get excited about.   But Johnson’s real fear will be that even such a delay might be enough to deny him a majority.

It is an exquisite trap and one he has built all by himself. Do or die indeed. How will he resolve the dilemma: by seeking an election well before the end of October, by not having one or by doing what he has solemnly promised not to?  You’d have thought that Johnson, of all people, would have realised the folly of making promises you know you cannot keep.



Another set of PM Johnson leader ratings has him in deep negative territory

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Generally when PMs are replaced during a parliament the new person gets a boost in their leader ratings which I have long regarded as a better indicator of the political weather than voting intention polls.

With BJohnson, only two weeks now into the job, things have been very different. Opinium had him on a net minus 3% in its approval ratings. Ipsos-MORI which asks how satisfied people are the mew CON leader and PM came out with minus 7%. Now, today, YouGov has published its latest favourability tracker which has him at a net minus 21%.

For comparison at exactly this stage in TMay’s occupancy of Number 10 YouGov had her on a net plus of 12%. Generally over time things get progressively worse for incumbent PMs and TMay’s final youGov ratings were minus 49%.

If it is any consolation JCorbyn’s latest YouGov figure has a net minus of minus 50%.

All this for Johnson is before the heavy lifting of Brexit gets under way.

Mike Smithson