Oh to have been a fly on the wall at Cabinet this morning. Luckily, no need to be a fly. For some bizarre reason, they invited in a TV crew to film proceedings. The mood looked gloomier than ever. Long gone are the days when a grinning PM used to lead the hostages, sorry cabinet ministers, in a round of call and response about how many hospitals he was going to build.
Today, the cabinet is embroiled in the tangled web of reports coming out of the No 10 machine over who knew what and when over the Chris Pincher affair.
In those pictures from Downing Street today they look, says a Tory MP, as though “they have been forced to go on a night out with John Bercow”, and listen to the former Speaker’s tales from the old days.
It can’t have helped that the PM’s wife, Carrie Johnson, is back in the headlines over the Pincher imbroglio. “Friends” have leaked emails which suggest she warned about the former deputy chief whip years ago.
The latest polling from the ConservativeHome website won’t have improved the mood either with Boris Johnson still at the bottom of the cabinet league table for the second month running with his score sinking from from -15 to -31. That means the PM has been in the red for four of this year’s six months.
Other ministers are down too. One-time golden boy, Rishi Sunak, is down into negative territory for the second time in three months. Almost everyone else is down, with former stars like Liz Truss and Michael Gove barely above water.
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The only minister to move up – by 0.5 to 85.5 – was Ben Wallace, defence secretary, who also came out top in ConHome’s latest leadership poll, just beating Penny Mordaunt, the trade minister.
No wonder the Cabinet is so glum. According to one Tory activist who contacted Reaction after an evening out (everyone needs a hobby) attempting to persuade punters to stick with the Tories, the reception he had on the doorsteps has never been worse in the last thirty years. And he was alive and active in the Conservative party in the mid-1990s.
Voters are furious. Filling your car up and filling your radiators with gas or oil is now nearly double what it was last autumn, while filling your cupboards with food needs its own mortgage.
Happy holidays, everyone!