Should Boris Johnson than open a string of saloons under the “Last Chance” franchise. The perennial joker winced to hear the Commons explode in peals of laughter – this time at him, not with him.
With his cabinet splintering to the point of disintegration, he had vowed falteringly to “fight on”, even as Labour leader Keir Starmer chaffed him about the “charge of the lightweight brigade”.
It would be the first recorded case of the sinking ship abandoning the rat, Mr Starmer told MPs in the House of Commons. At the time of writing at least 38 ministers and aides had quit.
But Mr Johnson was never one for buckling. With the “colossal mandate” he had been handed in 2019, his grim duty was to keep going despite the “difficult circumstances”.
The charade became low farce. Every moment Mr Johnson remains in office is a boon for the opposition parties. Former cabinet minister David Davis begged him to “put the interests of the nation before his own interests”.
What we have seen of Mr Johnson’s grandiosity suggests there is no separation between the nation’s interests and his own. The fact that his tenure has been irredeemably mired in scandal seems to count for nothing.
He may not be done with politics, but it looks like politics is done with him.
His party is in meltdown, but he seems oblivious to this. Perhaps it is difficult for someone whose life has been blessed with promise and privilege to recognise their race is run.
As Longfellow put it: “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”
Mr Johnson found himself in the same lamentable state as predecessor Theresa May – in office but not in power. Thus, the man who “got Brexit done” is done for. In truth, his toes have been singed by the flames of controversy for so long it is a wonder he remained standing so long.
Partygate would have put paid to most careers. Being caught lying and breaching pandemic protocols – even being fined for it – could have led to his defenestration. Denial of knowledge of former whip Chris Pincher’s past has proven a fib too far.
It is unlikely his downfall will be regretted in Dublin or Brussels. A sense of froideur bordering on glee probably prevails. His tearing up of the Northern Ireland protocol, and brazen breach of an international trade deal – regardless of the consequences this could have – has brought Anglo-Irish and UK-EU relations to a new low.
Stephen King said: “It’s always the end for now, and in real life, the only full stop is on the obituary page.” Those who joked about Tory PMs doing the decent thing by retiring to their offices with the bottle of whisky and metaphorical revolver, after being told the game was up, but who said Mr Johnson would instead drain the glass and shoot the messenger, were on to something.
But his date with a significant punctuation mark cannot be delayed much further. His errors are too many to list, but his most harmful is his unshakeable belief he is indispensable.