Has anybody seen Alex Allan (Geidt’s predecessor, who quit)? Dominic Grieve? David Gauke, Nick Soames, David Cameron (shafted over the referendum), Theresa May, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s own brother, Jo, shunted off to the Lords?
The list includes many of whom you may approve, some of whom you don’t, but they have this in common: for a while their lives touched Boris’s, after which they stormed, wobbled, were kicked, staggered, limped or walked away, variously embittered, alienated, vengeful, damaged, broken or resolved to turn the page.
Dominic Cummings, Lee Cain, Robert Buckland, Julian Smith, Theresa Villiers, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Arlene Foster. . . these were, or are, serving politicians and special advisers. Likely future victims are still in post, but has anyone seen Downing Street’s chief of staff Daniel Rosenfield recently? What are the odds for Simon Case, the latest cabinet secretary?
Over the personal side of Johnson’s life — the wives, girlfriends and children — I draw a veil, preferring not to punch at bruised lives. All, political and personal, share this: they got themselves mixed up with a superlative confidence trickster. Believe me, I know the confiding wink that for a moment makes you feel you’re the only person in the room. We can add a range of newspaper editors, magazine proprietors and party leaders, tricked to their disadvantage but who live to tell the tale.
British political history is replete with prime ministers’ unsuitable liaisons — think of Lord Kagan and Harold Wilson’s “Lavender” honours list, Bernie Ecclestone and Tony Blair, David Cameron and Lex Greensill — but with the present prime minister the polarities are reversed. He’s the one the others should have steered clear of.
7 January 2022 – Matthew Parris, Conservative MP from 1979 to 1986, journalist