Voices: I wouldn’t put anything past Boris Johnson – he may stay, he may go, he may just run for the hills

Of course this should be the end for the PM but that particular formulation has reached almost proverb-like status these days (PA)
Of course this should be the end for the PM but that particular formulation has reached almost proverb-like status these days (PA)

Maybe, in hindsight, the clues were there. Maybe, if you look again at those pictures from round the cabinet table on Tuesday morning, the entire government looking like they’ve Abba hologrammed in from the realm of the undead, then you might be able to see that there would only be a matter of hours to go.

But then again, are there really only hours to go? It’s only the chancellor and the health secretary that have resigned. Of course this should be the end for Boris Johnson but that particular formulation has reached almost proverb-like status these days. Can anyone be sure it will ever happen?

Who, at this point, would bet against Johnson actively trying to run the country from some kind of gold-wallpapered bivouac in the woods while on the run from law enforcement, carving lies about how many hospitals he’s going to build into the bark of trees, Nadine Dorries scurrying along after him, dutifully scooping up his turds and burying them in shallow graves?

If you’re just settling down in front of S***show Valhalla, the latest is that both Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have now resigned. Alright, so it would arguably be nice if British politics could have a couple of heroes that weren’t both actively avoiding questions about where they’ve been paying their taxes, but you can’t have everything.

If you’re not across all of the nitty gritty, the top line is that when Boris Johnson claimed not to have known about a bring-your-own-booze party in the garden of his house which he personally attended, that was just about OK.

But now he’s claimed not to have known that a Tory MP called Chris Pincher was allegedly a sex pest – and that’s simply too ridiculous. Anyone who’s ever been within half a mile of Westminster will understand. Anyone who hasn’t, well, lucky you.

We know that Johnson won’t go before the bitterest end. There’s absolutely nothing stopping him appointing a cabinet of single-celled organisms and carrying on like everything’s fine, as he has spent most of the last three years demonstrating.

The only thing that can actually force him to resign is not being able to command a majority in the House of Commons. It’s not clear, at this stage, whether we’re at that point. Large numbers of his MPs are publicly disowning him. Not long after Sunak and Javid went, a man called Andrew Murrison stood down from his role as a trade envoy to Morocco, in the time-honoured fashion of writing a sternly worded letter then tweeting a photograph of it.

But so absurdly blurry and ineligible is the photograph, it is arguably unfortunate that even the most fair-minded observers have had to ask Murrison why he chose to take this historic decision without resurfacing from under the bath water.

Whether the nearly hundred of his own MPs will publicly disown him – to the point where his party can’t govern and a general election would have to be called – seems vanishingly unlikely.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

But surely he knows, by now, that things can’t carry on like this. That government by placeholder lie is not sustainable. That you can’t run a country by doing absolutely no more than saying whatever untrue thing will get you through the next five minutes. And you certainly can’t send your ministers on to the TV armed only with the lies you’ve told them, and expect there to be no consequences when those very obvious lies fall apart.

Or maybe he can. Maybe he actually can. Who even knows, at this point? It’s not merely that the bottom of the barrel has been entirely scraped away. Is there even a barrel at all anymore? We have crossed into the shame underworld, where the only way to cope is not to care.

But however long it carries on for, it’s already over. It will surely not be very long before we look back and conclude that it was over before it even began. That it has all been the most colossal waste of time, of energy and emotion.

Whoever comes next will inherit the most colossal cornucopia of s***, all shovelled out in the service of a man the likes of whom we will surely never see again – of quite staggering ego and truly microscopic talent.