When Rishi Sunak became PM, says Katy Balls in The Spectator, he made it clear he wanted to move on from the “scandal, mayhem and psychodrama of his two predecessors”. Instead, the stories of Tory sleaze just keep on piling up: if it’s not party chairman Nadhim Zahawi having to pay a penalty of more than £1m to placate the taxman, it’s allegations that Richard Sharp helped facilitate an £800,000 loan to Boris Johnson just before the then-PM put him forward for the role of BBC chairman. Given the cost-of-living crisis, these sorts of scandals won’t go down well with voters. “They used to say the Tories will get done on sex and Labour on money,” a former Conservative minister tells me. “These days, we do both.”
There’s “more chaos to come”. The investigation into whether Johnson misled parliament over Partygate has already begun. “It will be televised,” says a Tory MP, “and it could be box office.” We’ll also have the former PM’s resignation honours, which MPs worry will be a “Who’s Who of donors, hangers-on and members of the Johnson family”. His list apparently contains more than 100 names, roughly twice as many as were on David Cameron’s or Theresa May’s. Then, of course, there’s Liz Truss’s resignation honours – which, given her laughably short tenure in No 10, is bound to “stir up even more controversy”. Keir Starmer is ready to “lampoon all of this”, and there isn’t much Sunak can do. Rather than moving the Tories on, he may ultimately be “brought down by his party’s baggage”.