Opinion: 'Borexit' shows UK politics is drunk

Boris Johnson (Reuters)
Boris Johnson (Reuters)

"Politics is drunk and needs to go home."

I got this message from a friend soon after Boris Johnson's dramatic act of political harakiri.

Deadlines to declare for the Tory leadership contest following David Cameron's post-Brexit resignation closed at midday London time (11pm Thursday NZ time). 

When Johnson started speaking at 11:44am the headlines read: "Boris Johnson launches leadership bid".

By 11:53am the headlines had turned inside out: "Johnson pulls out of Tory leadership contest".

They say a day is a long time in politics; those 9 minutes tore through the fabric of political time. 

Boris woke up on Thursday morning all geared up to announce. He'd do it dramatically in the final hour to much fanfare; his suit and tie chosen, hair worn effortlessly undone.

What he didn't know was that his Brexit campaign ally - and presumed leadership campaign ally - Justice Secretary Michael Gove, was sharpening his knives. 

Then, just after 9am Gove went full Brutus. 

He not only threw his hat into the ring but threw Boris under the bus in one slick Machiavellian stroke. 

Opinion: 'Borexit' shows UK politics is drunk

Michael Gove (AAP)

Gove said he could not trust Johnson to provide leadership or build the team for the task ahead - that task being Brexit. 

Gove is great mates with Rupert Murdoch, whose influential papers were not going to back Boris' bid. Read into that what you will.

Gove was also great mates with David Cameron - besties in fact - before campaigning to leave the EU and therefore against Cameron's leadership. Gove helped take down the Prime Minister. 

In other words, before Brutus-ing Boris, Gove had Judas-ed the Prime Minister. 

Loyalty is not his strong suit. 

There are a couple of people who will be having a great day - the aforementioned burned Prime Minister, for example.

A source close to Number 10 told Newshub David Cameron was planning to do everything in his power to "take down Boris". 

Given the day's events you can also read into that what you will. 

The second person is Home Secretary Theresa May, also a candidate for the position. She was just as blindsided by the morning's machinations but she shot straight into the frontrunner position and is now the bookies' favourite.

Not that any of that matters. Nothing is a given anymore. The rule book was thrown out with Brexit. Assumptions, extrapolations and even certainties are uncertain. 

Who bloody knows! Just when you think the Brexit body-blows are softening along comes another K-O. 

As I replied to my friend: "Politics has been drunk for a week - it's going to be one hell of a hangover."