Boris Johnson is a bad job and Jacob Rees-Mogg even worse, so Douglas Ross shouldn’t be ridiculed – Brian Wilson

Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross as a ‘lightweight’ (Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

It is harder by the day to disagree with MP Sir Roger Gale’s view that Johnson is a ‘walking dead man’. Likewise, it was entirely predictable that it would all end in hubris, even though the precise source of the fatal turmoil could not have been predicted. Parties? How worldly!

The rewriting of recent history is already underway. Johnson was the big “winner” that brought the Conservatives an overwhelming majority. Well, yes and no. The Tories owe their big win, above all others, to Jeremy Corbyn and those stupid enough or malicious enough to appoint him leader of the Labor Party.

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Beyond that are the circumstances under which Johnson became the Tory leader. This could not have happened, certainly in the short term, without the stupidity or cynicism of the opposition parties who repeatedly rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal and therefore made her departure inevitable.

When Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MPs walked into the same hall of division with Johnson and the more extreme Brexit cronies around him, what future did they think they were ushering in? Johnson certainly knew the answer, but he needed the complicity of nominal opponents to open the door for him.

Nor should we forget how ruthlessly the decent wing of the Conservative Party was decimated for having the nerve to stand up to him. The one thing Johnson is unable to command now is loyalty as his entire career has been built on disloyalty to anyone who has stood in the way of his ambition.

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Johnson’s talent, as always, was to spot opportunity. Betting on becoming a Brexiteer without ever really believing in it and without worrying about the consequences. Then use it as a springboard to take control of the Conservative Party. Then presto, the road to number 10 was open.

Thereafter, Johnson’s fatal flaw was always going to be his character. No one can go through life telling so many lies, rejecting so many people who have become useless, using fancy language as a substitute for a basic skill, and ultimately not getting caught.

Arguably that irreversible moment came in the House of Commons this week when his clumsy, semantically elaborate apology that wasn’t quite an apology confronted even the most gullible with the inescapable reality of a man for whom the truth and penance are foreign concepts.

If there’s a meaner job in the Tory hierarchy than Johnson, it’s Jacob Rees-Mogg. In the list of people I would consider a badge of honor by which to be insulted, this slimy product of privilege and entitlement would rank very high. Douglas Ross should therefore not worry too much about it.

In fact, Mr. Ross does quite well in any rational assessment. Remember that he was certainly the last Scottish politician to resign on a point of principle, abandoning his post as minister in the face of the behavior of Dominic Cummings during confinement. He therefore has a record to defend.

On this occasion, he took a similar position. If something very serious had happened, the prime minister would have to resign. When it was confirmed that this had indeed happened, he followed without escaping or backtracking, while getting information from the horse’s mouth that there may well be more to come.

You don’t need to have empathy for Mr Ross’s wider politics to respect that position, which is otherwise entirely absent from Scottish politics. In contrast, Nicola Sturgeon managed to work under Alex Salmond for almost 20 years without ever, ever, ever seeing anything wrong. And if you never see it, you never have to do anything about it.

Mr Ross may be ridiculed for being ridiculed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, but at least he stuck his neck out – twice – on a point of principle and each time got it right. That doesn’t seem despicable to me at all.

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