The two at the Spectator summer party
Alan Duncan seems to have got rather confused. Despite being long time colleagues and perhaps friends with Boris Johnson, their relationship seems to have become rather strained and complex, a common sign now in the Conservative Party in the recent rifts over Brexit and the future of Theresa May.
Two weeks ago, Fraser Nelson of the Spectator ran an editorial which claimed the apparent long held knowledge in Westminster that Johnson and Duncan, the former’s deputy at the Foreign Office before this year, loathe each other. This comes after a rather powerful tweet from Duncan, which labelled Boris’ career ‘over’ and his jibe about the Chequers deal as being a ‘suicide vest’ as ‘one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics’ and that he was ‘never fit to govern.’ Not exactly mates then, it would seem.
Yet Duncan hit back, last week penning a letter to the Speccie in which he destroyed the claims as having ‘no basis in evidence’ and that they ‘profoundly discredit’ the journalist on whom Nelson’s information was taken from. This little row inside the Westminster bubble didn’t seem to be very simple.
The situation became even more complex today as Duncan seems to have taken part in an interview with Nelson on the Spectator website in which he says of the former Foreign Secretary that ‘publicity is his cocaine’, needs ‘a regular fix’ and that his past electoral appeal ‘is now waning’, not exactly the warmest endorsement. He went on to defend his earlier tweet by saying that everyone should be behind the PM’s plan, with the threat of a Corbyn government lurking overhead and that ‘you have to respond to Boris with a bit of Boris’. BoJo was also ‘not acting in the national interest’ and was ‘limbering up to have a go at her at Conference’, the second claim being especially poignant as Johnson speaks at at large rally in Birmingham next week.
Duncan and May were at Oxford and it’s debating society together but the former was never ‘part of their group’ apparently, although Duncan is one of the very few May can rely on for support at this moment. With Johnson trying to find the right moment for his long-desire leadership bid, even old friends seem to be fighting it out at this most bizarre and crucial of times.