A tarnished figure, unfit to be prime minister, whose honeymoon is over before he even lands the role. This damning verdict on Boris Johnson in swathes of the media, European and American as well as British, has been endlessly rehearsed during the two-month slog between Theresa May’s resignation and his capture of the top job. Overlooked amid all the venom is that this interlude, in its grotesque length, is one more symptom of the British polity’s debasement.

At last the finale — which is also a prelude to a new crunch — is imminent. Johnson’s 66–34 per cent win over Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative Party leadership run-off, announced on Tuesday morning in London, is followed at Wednesday lunchtime by May’s last House of Commons question time. Then come Boris’s anointing at Buckingham Palace, the limousine ride to Downing Street, and the obligatory pieties on the steps of Number 10. In Britain, rituals ever run smooth while policies (from Brexit downwards) ever mean pratfalls. Go figure.

Now that the ball has indeed “come loose from the back of the scrum,” as Johnson wittered in 2013, and this “great, great thing to have a crack at” is almost in his hands, what else awaits but satisfying confirmation of that verdict?

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