Can David Cameron survive? That question has neatly replaced last month’s existential debate: can the Coalition survive? I personally find this current eruption of speculation over the Prime Minister’s future rather perplexing since the Threat of Boris has been a widely known phenomenon for ages, long preceding the Olympian wave of mayoral self-promotion. A Tory donor told me months ago of a well-developed plan to promote a Johnson leadership challenge involving Tory MPs in safe seats who would be prepared to stand down, thereby precipitating a by-election in which Boris would be propelled into Parliament.
This column reserves judgment (for the moment) on the prospect of Mr Johnson leading the Conservative Party, but judging by the hysterical urgency with which Labour commentators are ridiculing the idea, it certainly seems to scare the hell out of the Opposition. But the Mayor’s plausibility is the least of it. What is happening here is to do with Mr Cameron and his particular brand of party leadership: it must now either move on to a quite new stage of maturity and wisdom or fail utterly. There is no other possibility. The voters’ doubts about him – which cost the Tories an outright victory in the last general election – have become more serious, not less.
After six golds on Saturday, British competitors have strong medal chances today with Yamile Aldama in the women’s triple jump final, Christine Ohuruogu trying to retain her Olympic title in the women’s 400 metres final, and Ben Ainslie going for a historic fourth Olympic gold medal in the men’s Finn sailing final.
Andy Murray will play for two gold medals today and is guaranteed at least two silvers after making it through to the mixed doubles final with Laura Robson on Saturday.
He will face Roger Federer in the men’s singles tennis final, seeking revenge for July’s Wimbledon defeat, and is then expected to play in the mixed doubles final with Robson, who will also pick up at least a silver medal.
After Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott broke a world record to win the women’s team pursuit, there is the chance of yet more British cycling medals with the Yorkshireman Ed Clancy, 27, in contention for a medal place in the omnium, the multi-discipline event which concludes today.
Great Britain enjoyed their most successful day at an Olympics in 104 years by winning six gold medals on day eight of the London Games.
(“I am so shocked I can’t believe it. I’m going to savour the moment.” Jessica Ennis)
Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah capped a historic day – the best ever for GB athletics – by winning the heptathlon, long jump and 10,000m in front of 80,000 jubilant spectators at the Olympic Stadium.
The rowers had started the celebrations with gold in the men’s four and the women’s lightweight double sculls before the women’s team pursuiters added track cycling gold in the London Velodrome.
Saturday’s series of successes keep the host nation third in the medals table with 14 golds, behind the United States and China.
Britain has now won 29 medals overall, having also taken seven silvers and eight bronzes at these Games.
Ennis had dominated the heptathlon from the start, leading her rivals after the four events on day one.