There's a strong case to be made that Have I Got News For You is indirectly responsible for Brexit. If they hadn't helped Boris Johnson build up his image as a loveable buffoon, he'd never have become Mayor of London and wouldn't have had the political capital with which to make a decisive intervention in the EU referendum. Now that butterfly effect seems set to take Johnson all the way to Downing Street, where perhaps (particularly in the light of today's failed Commons vote) he'll be able to push through a No Deal Brexit.
The fact that he was 'created' by a comedy TV show is one thing that would make a Johnson win unusual, but it's not the only thing. This would also be the first time in living memory that a governing party has installed a backbencher as Prime Minister. I'm actually struggling to work out when such a thing last happened. Theresa May was Home Secretary when she took over from David Cameron. Gordon Brown was Chancellor when he took over from Tony Blair. John Major was Chancellor when he took over from Margaret Thatcher. James Callaghan was Foreign Secretary when he took over from Harold Wilson. Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Foreign Secretary when he took over from Harold Macmillan, who in turn was Chancellor when he took over from Sir Anthony Eden, who in turn was Foreign Secretary when he took over from Sir Winston Churchill. You might assume that Churchill himself must have been a backbencher when he became PM due to his famed spell in the wilderness, but in fact he'd been First Lord of the Admiralty in Chamberlain's short-lived War Cabinet. So a Johnson premiership would be a very rare example of non-continuity for a government in mid-term. He resigned from Theresa May's administration for a reason, and it can be assumed that he'd oversee a change of direction more akin to an outright change of government.
What would it mean for us? I've heard some people say that Boris Johnson doesn't really believe in anything but his own ambition, so there's no way of knowing for sure whether he'll keep his promises to the ERG headbangers until he's actually in office. But for my money it's his ambition that'll ensure he does stick to his word, because he'll know his place in history will be guaranteed if he delivers on a No Deal Brexit. Even if it unleashes economic calamity, it's unlikely to be reversed for a very long time, and so the political status quo would become synonymous with Boris in much the same way that the post-war consensus was synonymous with Attlee.
Which leaves the question of whether parliament would be able to stop No Deal if Johnson is hellbent on bringing it about. Today's vote makes that less likely, but doesn't close off the possibility entirely. But one thing is for sure: a parliament that thwarts the main objective of the government is making an early general election inevitable. Polling suggests that Johnson is the only one of the ten Tory leadership candidates who would recover a significant number of the votes lost to the Brexit Party in time for an election this autumn, so it could be that, paradoxically, he would help save Ruth Davidson's bacon in her north-east seats in Scotland. The SNP might instead have to look towards gains from Labour to keep up the momentum towards a second independence referendum.
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2019 Scot Goes Pop Fundraiser: This is Day 13 of the fundraiser, and so far £6500 has been raised. That's 76% of the way towards the target figure of £8500. A million thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and I'm also extremely grateful to all the people who have left a kind comment with their donation. You can visit the fundraising page HERE.