Not so lucky: Boris Johnson’s planned visits to India remain jinxed one way or another. After two cancelled visits, this is third-time lucky, but only to the extent that this time a visit is in fact taking place. However, Boris Johnson must wish it were not. Not at this time. Parading in Ahmedabad will not be the same when he knows British Parliament will be voting over setting up an inquiry to determine whether he breached privilege.
Johnson is expected to survive this move in Parliament as well. But Conservative whips are quite cracking the whip to get party members into the House and to vote as commanded amidst a brewing dissent that refuses to calm down. The PM would have wanted to be there personally for some last-minute haranguing, and more, to pre-empt further plotting. In this business at such a time, he can trust no one.
Surviving this vote will not necessarily mean survival as PM. Police investigations are continuing into a breach of lockdown rules at 10 Downing Street. Further fines are expected. Johnson has already paid one, 50 pounds, making him the first serving prime minister found to have broken the law, and penalised for it. Local elections and a by-election are round the corner. If the voter boots the Tories, Johnson will be in far more serious trouble.
Trade-off: This is a time like no other when Boris Johnson would like to return with a juicy trade deal with India in the bag. That has been promised since the early days of campaigning for Brexit. A desperate PM has found some success with political optics through a visit to Kyiv. Now New Delhi presents his next big chance to deliver for Britain.
Except that any such early delivery looks unlikely. Talks are on to secure a trade deal between India and Britain. These are scheduled to continue at least until the end of the year. There can be no trade deal agreed upon this week. At best some limited agreement seems likely on a few basics. But to Johnson this is not about a deal at the moment, it’s about announcing something. That may be a fraction of a deal, but Johnson is clutching at fractions to save himself from the position of ex-prime minister.