Boris Johnson may or may not be out, but the system is definitely down

That the Conservative party has had three failed prime ministers on the trot means there's a far bigger problem

The UK newspaper front pages in London this week. EPA

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reign of error looks to be almost over. Everyone knows why. Even Mr Johnson himself is coming to understand that he is an embarrassment to himself, to his party and his country. What is unknown is whether he will quit or be forced out, and when.

The Conservative party has now produced its third failed leader since the Brexit vote of 2016. Party members need to consider why David Cameron, Theresa May and now Mr Johnson have all been destroyed during the Brexit mess in a little more than five years. To lose one leader is unfortunate. To lose two is careless. To lose three is profound systemic political failure.

True, Mr Johnson may cling on for some time. He is said to be planning to dismiss his staff but that will be like a scandal-prone aristocrat getting into trouble and firing his servants. The real problem with these successive Conservative leadership failures is not Mr Johnson himself. It is that a party obsessed with Brexit cannot make it work. In desperation, Conservatives allowed someone clearly unsuited to high office to rise to the top. This matters because the same system that chose Mr Cameron, Mrs May and Mr Johnson may well choose their fourth failure in a row.

It’s true that Mr Johnson has been a very particular failure. He became Conservative leader and Prime Minister precisely because he was a “mould-breaker” who would bend the rules to “get Brexit done". That was half right. He did break or bend rules on coronavirus, with party cronies and on other matters, but he has clearly failed to get Brexit “done".