Boris Johnson has suffered three successive blows to his credibility since Friday, which call into question his title as the undisputed favourite to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and the man to succeed Theresa May in office.
Given a strong lead and strong media criticism, there is a perception that the former foreign secretary is avoiding public confrontation. The last-man-standing opponent — who prevailed over eight opponents — is foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. Hunt called Johnson a “coward” on Monday morning.
“On the question of debates, he is being a coward,” Hunt said on Sky television.
Meanwhile, The Guardian broke the story that the police showed up on Johnson’s residence on Friday morning, after neighbours heard a loud altercation between him and his girlfriend. Since, Johnson has been challenged to explain and he has insisted that this is a personal affair.
On Saturday, the Observer delivered another blow to Johnson’s credibility, publishing a video of Steve Bannon talking about his consultations Boris Johnson. In the video, Bannon boasts how he discussed with Johnson the talking points of his speech following his resignation as a foreign secretary. Johnson has always denied political ties to the former campaign manager of US President Donald Trump. The footage was filmed by US filmmaker Alison Klayman for a documentary entitled The Brink.
Perhaps the least damaging assault to Johnson’s credibility came from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who questioned his claim that the UK can avoid EU tariffs in a no-deal Brexit scenario. In an interview with the BBC, the Canadian who stirred monetary policy amid the Brexit crisis recalled that World Trade Organization rules require the EU to apply the same tariffs to all of their trading partners with whom they do not have a free trade agreement. That means that Johnson’s claim that “there will be no tariffs, there will be no quotas because what we want to do is to get a standstill in our current arrangements under GATT 24,” is inaccurate.
Carney reiterated that EU tariffs on industrial goods, such as motorcycles, would be in the region of 10% whilst on agricultural produce, such as lamb, they would be much higher. Once again, he warned that no deal would likely come with a deep recession.
According to the Mail on Sunday, support of Johnson among Conservatives has been halved.