Whenever David Cameron decides that the time has come to step down as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, there will be one almighty battle. Whoever takes over will believe that they have a very good chance of beating a Corbyn-led Labour Party in 2020 and gaining their own mandate as Prime Minister. It will be possible though to pinpoint exactly the time and day when George Osborne threw away his chances.
On 23 January 2016, 12.15am, he tweeted: "#Google tax bill is a victory for the action we've taken.I introduced Diverted Profits Tax.We now expect to see other firms pay their share"
From that moment on his chances were scuppered. The reaction of the media and the public to the announcement ranged from the sceptical to the incredulous. The size of the tax bill was questioned and even the normally ultra-loyal Sajid Javid conceded that the deal was 'not a glorious moment' and he recognised the 'injustice' and 'unfairness' felt by the public. This demonstrates just how wrong Osborne's tweet was and long lasting its damage will be to him.
Things got so bad that Google themselves had to appear on the Andrew Marr show to try and dig themselves out of the hole and the whole incident even allowed Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, to land a keen blow with his accusation of 'mates rates' being charged.
Calls have been made for the deal to be investigated by the European Commission so the whole issue will continue to hang around for some time to come.
Osborne is sometimes considered as a 'master tactician' and the policies he introduced at time of Budget 2015, such as the national living wage, had him at the top of his game. His role in the 2015 election win and his apparent ability to outsmart the Labour Party proved that he could do no wrong.
This was though to ignore the 'omnishambles' Budget of 2012 and his apparent inability to deal with the deficit which was put off until nearer the time of the 2020 election, not before 2015 as originally envisaged.
The measures in the July 2015 Budget were underpinned by an unexpected financial windfall delivered by the Office for Budget Responsibility. However, with economic growth being downgraded, not least by the Bank of England, the boost may fall flat. If the extra unexpected cash does not come through then Osborne will have a serious hole to dig the Government out of.
There have also been a series of moves that have upset the business community, not least the Apprenticeship Tax. As I have written before, this is not the Conservative Government business thought it was getting. The Living Wage is adding extra costs and the repatriation of housing association homes is not popular with providers. Operators in the bus sector are looking at the prospect of re-regulation (yes, re- not de-) with trepidation.
Osborne will also not gain a boost in popularity from amongst the Conservative Party membership by going down an anti EU line which Boris or Teresa might try to do. He has to stand on his record and achievements.
He has misjudged the mood on the tax issue and it will haunt him.