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Boris Launches Campaign While Cameron Holidays

07/08/2014 11:59 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 10:59 BST

When I look back over David Cameron's political career, I will remember many things. The fact that he surrounded himself with millionaire Etonians while subjecting the most vulnerable in society to sharp cuts and while allowing global corporations and oligarchs to use Britain as a tax haven. The fact that his own fortune came from a tax haven. His asset-strip of the NHS after promising that it was 'safe in his hands'. His appointment of Andy Coulson, his cringeworthy texts to Rebekah Brooks and even more cringeworthy attempts at jokes in Prime Minister's Questions.

I will also remember him for taking at least four holidays a year but mainly I will remember him for getting stung by a jellyfish, after ignoring warnings to keep away from them. In arguably the most genuine utterance since entering office, Cameron is reported to have fled from the sea in Lanzarote shouting "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!" Nobody knows what the poor jellyfish said.

That particular holiday incident - which wouldn't be out of place in an Inbetweeners movie - happened in April this year. As he headed off to Portugal this month, managing to hurl the Child Abuse Inquiry to one side, Cameron must have sighed with relief. No jellyfish sting could be as painful as having your party accused of involvement in child abuse and cover-ups for decades.

But within days of arriving on holiday, the unpopular Inbetweener already had two knives sticking out of his back and had reverted to "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!" mode, thanks to Baroness Warsi and Boris Johnson.

The knife wielded by Warsi went very deep, exposing splits within the Conservative Party and tensions between the coalition partners. The knife, of course, came in the form of a resignation letter by Warsi, describing the government's approach towards Gaza's onslaught by Israel as "morally indefensible."

The letter stated: "I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for international justice." The letter also twisted the knife by making reference to the value of ministers recently culled by Cameron, implying incompetence on the part of the prime minister.

The seriousness of this wound for Cameron may not be fully realised until the attention has drifted away from Boris Johnson, the second knifeman. It is not so much that Baroness Warsi has caused Cameron an injury that undermines his leadership, it is more the case that her stab opened up conflict in government in relation to Israel and Gaza. The true damage to the government has not been done by Warsi - the damage was done each time Gazan children were blown to bits and Britain's sale of weaponry to Israel glibly glossed over.

The second knifing was more subtle. Many fall for the shambolic veneer of Boris Johnson. The messy, unkempt look for someone so privileged they couldn't be more removed from everyday British life is clever. It makes mums want to look after him rather than scrutinise his morals and he reminds us of a amiable drunk friend - or perhaps a friendly dog. But just as behind the surreal chaos of Chaplin, Vic Reeves and Noel Fielding there is carefully planned and perfectly-timed theatre, Boris is as sharp as a razor and in complete control of his apparent chaos.

With expert timing - just as the splits within the Government over Gaza were exposed - Boris Johnson announced he is standing for Parliament next year. If - as Cameron would like us to believe - Boris and he were best of friends, one might imagine that Johnson's announcement was a distraction from the government's fracture over Gaza. To anyone believing that, the stab in the back might initially look like a supportive hand on the shoulder. However, anyone who follows politics closely has always known that Boris would launch himself back into government when cracks in the party were opening and Cameron was in decline. This is that time.

Those on the right of the party will no doubt forgive Boris Johnson's previous indiscretions, for example when he was sacked from the shadow cabinet after lying to then Tory leader Michael Howard about an affair. With Cameron looking increasingly weak - and especially inept at stemming the loss of votes to Ukip - Euro-sceptic Johnson will be viewed by some as the perfect man for the leadership.

Given that Boris was allowing the term "Bongo Bongo Land" in his magazine long before the likes of Godfrey Bloom used it, he may well help snatch some votes back from Ukip. But he won't be leader of the party until after the 2015 General Election and if the Tories don't win that they will not have won an election for a quarter of a century. This would suggest something more fundamentally wrong about the Conservative Party than simply lacking a leader who can amuse people with his funny hair and carefully-controlled disorder. Therefore Boris may start off as knifeman but ultimately become little more than a plaster over a gaping wound.