Boris Johnson is back on the front pages as he faces his most public test since his abortive attempt at a comeback in the autumn. On Wednesday the former prime minister will sit down for a four-hour grilling by MPs on the Privileges Committee who are investigating whether he lied to Parliament about Partygate.
Many voters are bored with Mr Johnson, and would like nothing more than for him to vanish from the spotlight – for good this time. Others will be transfixed by the drama, whatever they think of his record in office; and for some, it will be a reminder of the stardust that only he has – perhaps even prompting a yearning to see him back in Downing Street.
As i’s Policy Editor Jane Merrick reveals today, Mr Johnson believes that the Privileges Committee probe may provide a springboard for that comeback. If he is cleared, and is seen to have conducted himself well, that could convince the public that Partygate really was an honest mistake on his part and that he has the maturity to recognise and learn from his own errors.
That might be a forlorn hope. Mr Johnson’s allies have already launched a flurry of attacks on the probity of the process, which rather undermines the idea that he is keen for these issues to be fully worked through in public. And any reminder of the scale of lockdown-breaking in No 10 will be galling to many voters.
You can never fully write off Boris Johnson, and he does have the ability to connect with some sections of the public which other politicians can only dream of. But Rishi Sunak can sleep easy for now: there is little appetite in the Conservative Party for yet another change of leadership.