Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

Throughout the political chaos of Theresa May’s repeated failure to gain approval for her agreement to leave the European Union, Brexit-supporting newspapers never wavered in their underlying support for Boris Johnson’s hard-line approach.

He was the ever-present cheerleader, a backstop for the pro-Brexit press, waiting in the side-lines, ready to step into the breach to lead the final assault on Brussels to deliver the freedoms promised in the EU Referendum.

At least in the opinion of most Conservative Party members, Johnson became – like Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair before him – an all-powerful Prime Minister, safe in the knowledge that he and his closest aides were starting out with every chance of being able to command the news agenda and manipulate friendly media outlets.

Unlike the breakaway SDP of the early 1980s, the Independent Group of former Labour and Conservative MPs has an unparalleled chance to campaign in a way that might well prevent them being squeezed to extinction by the UK’s all-powerful two-party electoral system.

Traditional party loyalties have been well and truly shattered by the European Referendum. The trauma of Brexit has left the support of millions of voters up for grabs.

By announcing their departure six weeks before the March 29 date for the UK’s exit from the EU, the Labour Gang of Seven (now eight), together with three former Conservative MPs, have engineered an ideal opportunity from which to present their demand for a People’s Vote.

When Conservative governments set about curtailing employment and trade union rights the route map for massaging public reaction follows tried and tested procedures.

Headline-grabbing objectives are floated in briefings to well-informed journalists, and then, amid a flurry of media interest, ministers row back from worst-case scenarios insisting that high standards in the UK will not be eroded.

Political honeymoons are often short lived, but few Prime Ministers have squandered media loyalty and support as rapidly and comprehensively as Boris Johnson.

Dominic Cummings' forced departure has paved the way for the launch in the New Year of White House-style televised briefings from Downing Street by Allegra Stratton, who is to become the new face of the government.

The gruesome finale to Maria Miller’s seven-day struggle to hang on to her cabinet post as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport was a text book example of the high-wire political news management that blighted the Blair years.

Her resignation within a few hours of the start of Prime Minister’s questions mirrored that of Peter Mandelson’s second on-off resignation from Tony Blair’s government in January 2001.

He finally stood down from his position as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland less than an hour before the start of questions in the House of Commons, allowing Blair the chance to wipe the slate clean when he was challenged at the despatch box.

Mrs Miller was only too well aware that David Cameron would have had to face a near impossible task trying once again to fend off criticism of her own inept handling of the investigation into her claims for parliamentary expenses.

Her resignation was announced at 7.18am on Wednesday 9 April; she had given Cameron the benefit of almost five hours in which to prepare himself before he had to face the Labour leader Ed Miliband.

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