At midday yesterday, Conservative party members rose from velveteen chairs in rapturous applause after hearing that Boris Johnson had nabbed the nomination for party leader (by dint of which he will become prime minister today). The ratio of about two votes to one among the 159,000-odd party members looks decisive but in the real world Johnson’s support looks sparse as the nation careens towards the Halloween deadline for leaving the EU.
There isn’t much time – or anything much at all, for that matter – for the UK to celebrate. As Johnson acknowledged (but didn’t elaborate on) in his acceptance speech, his hair artfully tousled and gestures calculatedly Churchillian, Brexit is as formidable a challenge as an incoming UK leader has faced in recent memory. Sadly for the new PM, although 92,153 votes were enough to get him into Downing Street, there are other numbers games that he’ll need to work out: the lack of an overall Conservative majority in parliament, bitter party in-fighting and a nation divided. Today is day dot of Boris Johnson’s premiership but already it feels as though his hands are tied and his days numbered.