The Boris Johnson questions

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Image copyright PA

"Welcome to the age of incompetence," a Tory-backing senior business figure joked this morning, in the crush of the conference hotel, while in the background other attendees plundered the breakfast buffet.

The behaviour of the cabinet is not, of course, on the minds of most people going about their daily business, but it is most certainly on people's minds in Manchester.

One of his cabinet colleagues admitted "it's all anyone is talking about". Another, "we'd be fine if everyone just got on with their day jobs," and the chancellor this morning barely disguising his frustration, reminding him that "no one is unsackable".

Should the PM sack Boris Johnson? Is he trying to get fired? Is he trying to oust her? Is he really going to give a speech titled "Let the Lion roar" tomorrow? That last bit, it seems, is indeed true, but the other questions? Not as easy to work out.

Here's the thing though. Of course Boris Johnson is motivated in part by his long-held dream of leading his party, and of making sure Brexit happens.

But is there a strategy? Or even thought-through tactics that is driving his current behaviour?

Don't count on it. In fact, those who know him well believe not, and the chaos that follows in his wake is not deliberate. They even wish that he was more strategic about what he is up to.

Whether you are reassured by the shenanigans being partly accidental is up to you. But many here this week are not at all amused.

More on this story