I hereby *resign/will carry on as PM: Time for Boris Johnson to write two more letters

* Delete as applicable

Boris Johnson’s sincere address to the nation
Boris Johnson’s sincere address to the nation

"The past two years (solemn look, straight at camera), have been uniquely challenging and difficult.

"You, the great British public (lean forward slightly, use earnest tone), have made tremendous sacrifices.

"And I know that many of you have had the pain of losing loved ones. (poignant pause before continuing).

"So I appreciate the anger many of you have felt at the reports in recent weeks of gatherings in Downing Street. Let me assure you (use persuasive tone) that I share that anger, and if I had known they were going on I would have attended more of them.

"I have apologised, and do so again tonight. It was not right and you deserve more.

"I asked everybody to await the report by Sue Gray into the matter. We have now seen the report and its conclusion, that Downing Street is occupied by a bunch of scoundrels who couldn't be trusted to run a whelk stall, is clear.

"I completely respect her conclusions and have moved swiftly to restore confidence by cancelling the contract with the company which supplied the plastic cutlery.

"And in the light of these findings I have to tell you that today I have been to see Her Majesty the Queen to offer my resignation/not offer my resignation as Prime Minister.

"Her Majesty has graciously accepted/told me to keep up the good work.

"Let me say lastly that it has been my greatest privilege to serve this great country of ours.

"Drinks all round at 7.30.

"Thank you, goodnight, Floreat Etona, and God bless you."

This is Boris Johnson after all, so you can expect him to draft two alternative versions of his resignation/non resignation speech.

Meanwhile the big count goes on – 46... 47... 48... Please ignore that sentence if news broke overnight that the requisite 54 letters of no confidence in Boris's leadership have been received from Tory MPs. At least 15 per cent have to send them in for there to be a leadership challenge.

If it happens it will be the first ever time it's happened to a Conservative Prime Minister since... er, Theresa May. Which isn't so long ago, is it?

In 2018 she successfully saw off the no confidence motion when Tory MPs voted by 200 to 117 to continue to put their faith in her. Put another way, over a third of Tory MPs had no confidence in their leader in that Parliament.

She was doing well. Consider Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour leader in whom Labour MPs demonstrably had no confidence – they voted 172 to 40 to express no confidence in his leadership. If it were not so serious it would be funny.

So while the prospect of Boris Johnson facing a no confidence vote by Tory MPs is being built up into a really big deal, maybe it's not such a big deal, and actually par for the course on recent trends.

As Boris is a Churchill fan, he might like the historical symmetry of it, as Churchill faced a confidence vote during the war, but his opponents were routed after being shown to be hopelessly confused, with one leading critic complaining he meddled too much, while another effectively complained that he wasn't meddling enough.

Poor David Davis. His bid to become the Sir Geoffrey Howe of the current political era seems to have misfired.

Serves him right for mixing plagiarism with cliche. If you are seeking to make a devastating speech which carves your name in Parliamentary history you should at least have the gumption to come up with an original script, rather than trotting out that tired old Leo Amery quote, just like the SNP's Ian Blackford did only a week or so ago.

Meanwhile, as part of his remorseless drive to restore public faith in the conduct of politicians, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has ordered Christian Wakeford to resign and stand in a by-election.

Sir Keir said: "It is the decent and honourable thing for him to do. Bury South voters who voted in 2019 for a candidate who told them he was a Conservative deserve the right to give their democratic verdict on his defection to Labour."

And if you believe Starmer said that, you'll believe anything.

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