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Tories on their knees – and here comes Boris Johnson. Dear reader, look away

If you feel physically breathless at the current state of British politics, that’s just Boris Johnson immediately sucking all of the oxygen out of the room again. Is the dignity vampire coming back? Unclear. But I know we’re all big fans of lettuces now, so be advised there could be a monstrous 16-stone slug waiting to crawl out of this one and burrow straight into your brain stem.

With a poll this morning putting them just the 39 points behind Labour, a genuinely tragic number of Conservative betas seem to think that only Johnson can fix this/save their jobs. They desperately, desperately need you to think of the UK government as a state-of-the-art technology that only functions when unlocked with Boris Johnson’s unique biometric pass. And yet, does it? Does it operate only when Johnson’s eyes meet its retinal scan? Does it crave to recognise his handprint (like so many spirited but troubled young women before it)? On the vanishingly outside chance that this is the case, can we not simply do as the movies have taught us: forcibly borrow or cut off the relevant Johnson body part, and just get things working that way?

The UK is in a political crisis layered on top of an economic crisis, which itself has needlessly exacerbated an already dire cost-of-living crisis. The idea that the answer to a single part of this horror show is to bring back a morally degenerate financial incontinent who broke his own laws is something that tells you everything about the terminal sad-sacks who are so much as thinking of it. The formal parliamentary investigation into Johnson’s last truth-aborting period in office is about to begin; if it ends up censuring him for misleading parliament over the No 10 lockdown parties, as is perfectly likely, then we’d be in a constitutional crisis too. Maybe crises are cheaper when you buy in bulk.

The fact his name is even being mentioned suggests the Conservative party has failed to learn the lessons of the first wave of Boris Johnson, and to plan for the second. Any rays of light in the worst-case scenario? The return to power of Roman dictator Cincinnatus – famously mentioned by Johnson in his recent leaving speech – lasted just three weeks (by choice). Though if Johnson clocks up even that many days back in power, it’ll feel very much longer.

As indeed did Liz Truss’s tenure as prime minister, despite being shorter than the seven-week leadership contest that put her there. At the current rate of executive disintegration, I’d give it three months before someone’s unfurling an ironic TRUSS IN banner behind Rishi Sunak/Penny Mordaunt/Johnson at PMQs. As things stand, Truss leaves with up to £115,000 a year office expenses, for life, on the back of just 44 days in post, with the Tories effectively now acting like the Football Association did for so many years – paying all their expensively terrible choices millions of pounds to go away.

If you wanted to make a moodboard of the past 48 hours you’d need Thérèse Coffey to bung you some illegal sedatives and a wall the size of the Hoover Dam to mount it all on. But given that we’re all condemned to play psychodrama Pinterest, here are a few key images: Jacob Rees-Mogg, who’d be a first-round KO for Monty Burns, being accused of “manhandling” people in the voting lobbies. Johnson, during a parliamentary session, cocktailing his arse off for his Uxbridge constituents on a sun lounger in the Dominican Republic. Penny Mordaunt acting like the unity candidate. Suella Braverman acting like the Unity Mitford candidate. Brandon Lewis taking “soundings” to see if he was going to be the Fortinbras in all this. You, unable to meet your own gaze in the bathroom mirror as you whisper, “Maybe … oh God … maybe Sunak, I suppose?” The mirror cracking.

Elsewhere, Graham Brady and Jake Berry, looking shifty as they explained the vote could well end up in the hands of the party membership again. Sorry, but if this does come to pass, it can’t be online. Voting should instead take place in Westminster Hall, with Conservative members required to queue and present themselves for the BBC livestream. That way if rogue actors such as Putin – or rogue presenters such as Phil and Holly – wish to upset the delicate balance of this ancient rite, everyone can see them doing it.