The former Daily Mail columnist details the lies that assisted the prime minister’s rise to power, but is slow to admit his own part in a culpable media

There have been some spectacular U-turns from political observers in the past five years – Piers Morgan’s desperate and tragically belated efforts to distance himself from Donald Trump, for example – but no reverse-ferret has been quite so vehemently trumpeted as that of Peter Oborne. Back in 2016, in his Daily Mail column, Oborne was proclaiming a new dawn of Conservatism, with Labour in collapse and David Cameron a busted flush. A “glittering prospect of 12 uninterrupted years as prime minister” awaited the winner of any leadership campaign, he suggested, and Boris Johnson’s years as mayor gave him “huge credibility” for the role. When the Brexit referendum got under way Oborne confidently announced: “In my opinion, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson are the two most brilliant politicians of their generation… courageous men… [with] the personal charisma and intellectual gifts to ensure that the case for Britain to leave the EU is seriously heard,” which “anyone who is a patriotic Briton – and everyone who believes in democracy – should welcome”.

How to square that unqualified endorsement with the blunt question he asks at the beginning of this short and entertainingly outraged book: “What led the British people to put a liar into Downing Street?”

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