Before he moved on to lower things, Boris Johnson lived in our neighbourhood, just off the Holloway Road in London’s Islington. Another famous Islingtonian who lived off the Holloway Road was the fictional Mr Pooter, protagonist of the Victorian classic Diary of a Nobody.
Mr Pooter’s wife was called Carrie, and his close neighbour went by the name of Cummings, of whom on one occasion Pooter writes: “Cummings and I have a little misunderstanding.”
Well, in the great book – which I recommend to anyone who is tired of “streaming” and, indeed, of this government – Carrie’s husband and his friend Cummings manage to get over their misunderstanding. However, if there is one thing certain about the fallout between the Brexiters of Downing Street, it is that hell hath no fury like a Cummings scorned. It is obvious that this episode is going to end in tears; and, as a betting man, I would not put money on Johnson’s long-term survival – not least on account of the way the forensic skills of our underestimated leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, seem to be coming into their own.
However, there is enough elsewhere on the subject of sleaze inquiries and the stink of corruption that permeates this government. Johnson and Cummings may have fallen out, and David Cameron may be up to his neck in his own sleaze inquiries, but the focus should not be taken off the immense damage the three of them have done to the British economy, and to the viability of what is still called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Cameron started the rot, not just by bowing to the resistable pressure for a referendum from what Edward Heath used to call, in a delightfully venomous tone, Euroseptics; Cameron also woefully mishandled the referendum campaign. The former president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently revealed in an interview that, knowing how distorted the British view of “Europe” had become as a result of a largely Eurosceptical press, he had offered to explain to the public the advantages of the EU and how it really worked.