I once had an ex who emailed me a 4,000-word screed that was part-love letter, part-hate mail, after he found out — months after he’d dumped me — that I’d met someone new. The PM’s most nuclear ex has unleashed a vortex of sleaze allegations that have hijacked the news cycle, set the Government scrambling to deny explosive charges, and triggered a Tory slump in the polls. Moral of the story? Whichever way you slice it, breaking up is hard to do.
At the time, I’ll admit I was a little blind-sided by my ex’s explosive email — but surely Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former consigliere, was a nuclear bomb waiting to detonate? Cummings, the Gossip Girl of Whitehall, with his stream-of-consciousness blogs (“xoxo, Dom”) and his maverick approach to...well, everything? He was never going to go quietly. Surely, as he was packing up his desk (mug: check; dossier of sleaze: check), the PM must have thought: “I reckon I haven’t seen the last of this guy.”
The obvious joke is that Johnson must have experience with furious exes by now — but still, as bad break-ups go, ending up in a fight whose fallout risks sinking a (leaky) government in the process is pretty extreme. It’s too late for an amicable split, though next time, perhaps Johnson should send some flowers. All the Whitehall drama is starting to make Harry and Meghan’s Oprah moment seem like no big deal.
While the Jennifer Arcuri catalogue barely made a mark on our Teflon PM, some of these blows look like they might yet land. Johnson has had a long run, for a man who doesn’t really seem to understand the gravity of his obligations to the electorate. But frankly, people don’t become mired in controversies about ventilators, and how exactly he paid to redecorate his flat, by accident — no matter how much the PM attempts to make it look and sound like he did.
Not to mention, with Cummings, and all the rest of them, you also have to wonder about Boris’s man-management. When your formerly pathologically loyal sidekick is so furious that he goes on the offensive, you can be certain that you aren’t presiding over a functional regime — and really haven’t been for some time. Frankly, José Mourinho was sacked for less.
And even given the wider context of a pandemic, the constant lurching from clusterf*** to clusterf***— the palaver over the now-defunct £2.6 million briefing room is barely a week old — feels like an administration out of control, with one man at the centre of it all. The PM really needs to get his house in order. Not literally, obviously; he hasn’t got the cash for another renovation.
In the end, I just deleted my ex’s email and we both moved on; the fall out from the PM and Dom’s toxic break-up is just getting started.
• One in 10 women will have a miscarriage. This amounts to 23 million each year — or 44 a minute. But a study in the Lancet finds that the huge impact of miscarriage is often misunderstood.
The researchers called for better physical and mental health support for women in the aftermath of a miscarriage; this is undeniably necessary. As is better research into miscarriage. What would also help would be changing minds: New Zealand recently introduced three days of miscarriage leave for grieving couples. The Lancet’s study finds that care can be “inconsistent and poorly organised”, with many couples just being told to “try again” — a very emotionless response. Bedside manner doesn’t seem to be a big part of women’s health — time to change that.