Could the Jennifer Arcuri scandal bring down Boris Johnson?

This article first appeared at betting.betfair on 29th March 2021

Boris Johnson has been Prime Minister for less than two years, during which time there has been frequent speculation about an early exit from office.

Johnson keeps on defying his critics

First many wondered whether he would survive proroguing parliament, or a general election. As the second wave of Covid-19 hit Britain and his government’s handling of the pandemic came under fire, Betfair odds rated him likelier to leave before finishing a full-term than not.

Some resilient polls and a vaccine bounce later, those markets have turned around. Johnson is now rated 56% likely at [1.82] to leave in 2024 or later, and 1.3 to survive past July 2022. Are we about to see another switch in market momentum?

Opponents continue to point to Britain’s terrible Covid death toll and the astonishing misuse of public money regarding Test and Trace, or PPE contracts. It seems as if another shocking revelation emerges every other day. Yet there is no evidence that any of this is hurting the Tories, or the Prime Minister.

Those latest numbers from Deltapoll rather puncture Labour excitement at a couple of weekend polls showing the Tory lead down to 4%. Let’s be crystal clear. Being 4% behind, mid-term, against a government with very little to boast about, is nothing to get excited about. Keir Starmer’s position against Johnson is, frankly, awful.

Labour attacks aren’t cutting through

One can never definitively explain polls and leader ratings but obviously they don’t represent an endorsement of the aforementioned government failures. The Covid contracts scandal simply hasn’t cut through or moved the needle. The opposition’s best hope is that something else will, and start an avalanche.

Perhaps we should look beyond serious politics and focus on the trivia that invariably does cut through. Sex. Specifically a sex scandal with a further morality dimension, that cannot be dismissed as a purely private matter, because it is tied to the misuse of funds.

Jennifer Arcuri claims she had a four-year affair with Johnson, between 2012 and 2016, when he was London Mayor. During this period, Johnson’s wife Marina Wheeler underwent cancer surgery. Downing Street refuses to comment.

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