The Sunday papers are making hay today with extracts from a book by Young Dave’s former chief spinner Craig Oliver, which tells us much we already knew - like that many at the top of the Tory Party cordially detest one another - along with opening the door just a little on what happened in the run-up to the referendum on Britain’s EU membership in June. But there are also things Oliver’s book does not tell.
Of no surprise at all is that Theresa May had her equivalent of “Shagger” Major’s “Wisdom Teeth Moment” (Major’s excuse to be absent and elsewhere when push came to shove for Mrs T) during the EU campaign, and that she managed to campaign for Remain while, er, not campaigning very much at all. This was most convenient to her future prospects. But it is when we get to those who opposed Cameron that it gets interesting.
And that brings us to London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, of whom the Mail On Sunday says “moments before he publicly vowed to lead the Leave campaign, he texted Cameron to say Brexit would be ‘crushed' … [his] text said Brexit would 'be crushed like the toad beneath the harrow' - adapting a phrase used by Rudyard Kipling … Johnson had a secret last-minute wobble about leaving the EU. In between two phone messages saying he would back Brexit, he sent a hitherto undisclosed third message saying 'depression is setting in’”. Something, though, is missing.
I can reveal that what Oliver does not tell about Bozza - and it’s entirely possible that Oliver didn’t know at the time - is that Johnson was not going to back the Leave side. He was, shall we say, persuaded to join Vote Leave. That unwillingness is what led to his text message telling “depression is setting in”.
The exact details of Bozza’s persuasion cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
All of which brings us to Michael “Oiky” Gove, who decided to back the Leave side after his notoriously untrustworthy wife Sarah “Vain” Vine had told Young Dave he would back the PM. What persuaded Gove to then jump ship may have been a purely selfish calculation: put it this way, he has already rejoined the Murdoch empire. And we know which way Creepy Uncle Rupe and his mafiosi wanted the referendum result to go.
Readers are told “Oliver says he never trusted Gove, whose 'legendary politeness seemed forced for someone so skilled at dinner party assassinations’ … When Gove's leadership bid crumbled after he 'cut Boris off at the knees', Oliver says: 'He failed to realise that in acting as a suicide bomber, his first victim would be himself.' His 'fatal flaw was vaulting ambition and a preparedness to mislead’”, but again something is missing.
I can also reveal that Gove stabbed Bozza in the back not just out of personal ambition, but because he had been made aware of why Johnson had been persuaded to back Vote Leave. “Oiky” decided that what he had discovered may not be a good look for a future Prime Minister. So he took him out of the race.
Craig Oliver’s revelations make for a rattling good read. But the full story of what was going on behind the scenes is even better. The problem is, you’ll have to wait some time to find out just how much more interesting. What you will not read in the papers.