IN the elegant Pugin room of the House of Commons, the dark figure of the former Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, Boris Johnson's enforcer, sidles up to a nervous Tory MP...

“Hello”

“Wha! Who? Oh, it's you Gavin, you scared me”

“What have you to be scared about exactly, James?

“Er, nothing. Ha ha. Of course. I may have supported Raab and then the Saj, but I realise now, that Boris is the only leader capable of...”

“I don't think you quite understand. The Boss isn't happy with the way things are, well, shaping up. Gove is not showing...respect”

“But I'm not intending to vote for Michael. I promise, on my honour”

“Don't you think Jeremy Hunt is worth a punt? It's what people are saying.”

“Hunt? The Tit – Theresa in Trousers? You can't be serious, Gavin. He's a joke”

“The future of the country isn't a joke, James”.

“But why would I vote for him when I want to support your man Boris.”

“(sighs) I'm worried about you, James, really I am. Boris already has the votes. Now, I need you to focus. We wouldn't want anything, er, unfortunate to happen in your constituency. It's Hunt, in the fourth, gottit?”

“But it's a secret ballot, how would you know how I vote”.

“Of course it's secret, James. Let's just say that I have x-ray eyes.”

Not for nothing does the former Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson have a pet tarantula in perspex box on his desk, called Cronus, mythological King of the Titans. Boris Johnson's consiglieri was called “the baby-faced assassin” when he was a whip who boasted, House of Cards-style, about having his “moles” everywhere. Some believe he organised the tactical voting against Michael Gove.

Mind you, Mr Williamson is clearly a fantasist and a rather incompetent one at that. Most MPs regard him as a bit of a joke, following his sacking by Theresa May over a mischievous press briefing about Huawei, which he always denied. And the truth is that Williamson probably didn't need to put the frighteners on Tory MPs, the most sophisticated electorate around. They don't need to be told how to peel an onion, or fit up a rival.

It's pretty clear from the numbers that a group of Boris supporters peeled off to back the White Walker, Rory Stewart, in the second round in order to shaft Johnson's first rival, Dominic Raab. Raab had made a big impression amongst Tory membership with his promises to suspend parliament if necessary to deliver Brexit. He was a wise guy, but he was becoming a piece of work.

HeraldScotland:

After Raab was whacked, a number of Stewart's votes mysteriously vanished. Just enough to ensure the Development Secretary, was the next to go down. He'd got a bit above himself. Been annoying Boris Johnson with his probity stuff, and those damned selfies. And did you know he used to be a spy? Stewart was duly dispatched in the third round.

It's almost as if this method of election was devised to allow Johnson to identify and then humiliate his main rivals. The last “problem” was Gove, who famously stabbed Johnson in the back in 2016 and forced the blond bombshell to abandon his last bid for leadership. There's been bad blood between Boris Johnson and The Gover, since Oxford. A brilliant debater, Gove resented Boris for his Bullingdon elitism, his bumptiousness, his Eton arrogance.

As an orphan who had fought his way up, Michael Gove wanted to lead the Tories beyond the public school. He had a beef and he was dangerous at close quarters, with a lethal wit. Gove was also the intellectual force behind the Leave campaign. His proposals for abolishing VAT and business rates appealed to the small business types who make up local Conservative Associations. If he was on the final ticket, he could do serious damage to bumbling Boris in the forthcoming hustings debates.

But Gove was never going to get to be Conservative Party leader. The elite, public school networks that run through the Conservative Party like marble, were never going to allow this parvenu – a Scot to boot - to get the crown. Gove is rather like another able Scot from humble background, the former Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth, who was similarly put in his place 30 years ago.

Elitism in the Tory Party is like telepathy. They don't go around behaving like mafia hoods. They don't need to manipulate proxy votes, or have heavies standing next to the ballot box. They leave all that to Labour. Tory MPs just KNOW what is expected.

It leaves Boris Johnson with the keys to Number Ten practically in his pocket. Jeremy Hunt is a grey Conservative in the John Major mould. He is also a remain voter, and following the psychodrama of Theresa May, Tory members will never trust a remainer to deliver Brexit.

Yes, Hunt is more capable. He is a safe pair of hands, a committee man, a master of detail, a former entrepreneur who knows more about the real world of business than an Eton show-boater like Boris Johnson ever will. But realism and economic competence are not what is needed just now.

What is needed is someone who will do magic, will turn the dross of Brexit into the gold of Global Britain. Tories – and many Leave supporters – realise that Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster. The government has been comprehensively defeated by the Brussels negotiators, who applied themselves to Brexit with legal precision. The amateurs and blowhards like David Davis and Dominic Raab were no match for professionals like Michel Barnier and Donald Tusc.

The Brits never expected the 27 EU countries to stay united behind the Withdrawal Deal, but they did. We never expected countries like Germany, with big exports to Britain, to stand firmly behind the Irish. But they did. Tories thought the central European countries, who don't like Brussels centralism, would back Britain. They didn't.

It's all gone tits up, and the only thing to do now is try to laugh the whole thing off. Boris Johnson is not there to be serious, his job is to enter Number Ten, make a few jokes, get whatever scraps he can from the Brussels negotiating table, and then pretend that Britain has won a great victory.

It's Dunkirk Spirit for celebrity age. Most Tories know that we're stuffed. That we should never have gone down this hard Brexit road and that we'll spend the next three decades trying, like Switzerland, to get back in. The Tories need someone with enough charisma to make the country feel better about itself.

Who better than the former London Mayor, actor-manager of the 2012 London Olympics, the greatest show on earth. Who made the nation laugh so when he was suspended from that zip wire waving union flags. So he's a bit of a rogue, a scoundrel, a man of little substance. At least he'll keep Britons laughing as we go over the cliff.