It is perhaps unsurprising that feelings are running high in Conservative ranks after Boris Johnson’s admission that he did attend a drinks party – believing, he says, it to be a work event – in the garden at 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country had to obey his Government’s restrictions on social mixing.
However, all involved would be wise to remember the danger posed to the Union by the sight of party figures from north and south of the border hurling insults at each other. Lest they have forgotten, Boris Johnson, Douglas Ross and Jacob Rees-Mogg are all members of the Conservative and Unionist Party. What is more, they can expect precious little help in keeping the Union together from either Labour or the Liberal Democrat parties, both of which have other priorities and precious little representation north of the border.
The public bickering between Mr Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, has played into the hands of the separatists. Mr Ross’s demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation now appears intemperate. Mr Rees-Mogg’s dismissal of Mr Ross as a “lightweight” was possibly even more so. Certainly the row has delighted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who declared that the Leader of the House’s comments betrayed the British Government’s “utter contempt for Scotland”.
The respective leaders of the UK and Scottish parties, David Cameron and Ruth Davidson, worked hand-in-glove to save the Union during the 2014 independence referendum. While this has not been the case with Messrs Johnson and Ross, the PM is no less an ardent Unionist.
Mr Johnson’s allies insist that any final decision on his fate should wait until we know the result of an inquiry led by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant. It is to be hoped this delay allows a period of relative calm to descend on the Tories’ warring tribes.