Boris Johnson's Own Words On Flailing PMs Come Back To Bite Him

"We never know when our time is up," the PM once wrote as a backbencher.
Boris Johnson in PMQs
Boris Johnson in PMQs
House of Commons - PA Images via Getty Images

Boris Johnson had to face down his own rebuttal during PMQs on Wednesday, when an opposition MP recalled how he once wrote a damning assessment of prime ministers on their way out.

The prime minister has been handed 27 (and counting) resignation letters in the past 24 hours, as political pundits start to speculate if the end really is near for Johnson this time.

To make matters worse, while Johnson was repeatedly encouraged to step down from No.10 on Wednesday, Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson revived his own previous attack on reluctant prime ministers.

Johnson, a former journalist, declared that then-PM Tony Blair should step down back in 2006 during a piece in The Telegraph headlined: “Blair will walk only with a flame-thrower at his back.”

Wilson recited Johnson’s own words back to him today: ’It is a wonderful and necessary fact of political biology that we never know when our time is up.

“Long after it is obvious to everyone that we are goners, we continue to believe it is our duty to hang onto the perks and privileges of our post.

“In reality we are just terrified of the comedown.”

Wilson also missed out this similarly brutal sentence from Johnson’s original article: “All politicians are masters of procrastination, but there is no day they find easier or more natural to postpone than the day of their own resignation.”

Wilson then concluded her time in PMQs, asking: “So for the sake of this great country, will the prime minister heed the advice of his former self and get over his terror and do the decent thing?”

Johnson also noted his 2006 piece that “the longer he [Blair] sits in No.10, exuding gloom and unease, the worse it will be at the polls”.

The Conservatives already lost two blue seats in a double-whammy of damning by-elections back in June.

In response to Wilson’s speech, the prime minister – who chuckled when he realised which article she was referring to – still refused to admit defeat.

He said: “I refer the honourable lady to the answer I’ve just given – when things are tough, of course people turn their fire on the leader of the country, but it is my job to get on and delivery our manifesto, which we are, and deliver on the mandate on which I was elected and to get this country through tough times just as we got through Coronavirus, that is what I was elected to do.”

Wilson was far from the only MP calling on Johnson to go during the particularly brutal PMQs.

One MP asked what Johnson was doing to stop strikes happening within his own cabinet, which earned a laugh from across the House, while Tory backbencher Gary Sambrook hit out at the prime minister’s “insulting” handling of Chris Pincher scandal.

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