Cameron has invited us to a country house shooting party. His beaters are desperately trying to get the Boris Bird to break cover

20 Feb 2016 at 16:30

So brush down your tweeds, adjust your plus fours, prepare the loaders and get the beaters to work. Today is the Glorious Twentieth. The Prime Minister has invited us to a country house Conservative shooting party. And a rather dangerous one. It will be like giving a troop of chimps semi automatic weapons. Some will die, a few winged and others so hidden in the undergrowth that nobody will remember where or who they are.

Well, Cameron’s syndicate have sent out the beaters to try and get the elusive Boris bird to break cover. Boris birds are notoriously difficult to hit. They are possessed of beautiful plumage which helps them to catch the eye of the party faithful in the mating ritual known as the Leadership Contest. The trouble is once you have him in your sights and you aim your gun at his predicted flight path, the Boris Bird is known for his fits of unpredictability and can swerve in a completely different direction at the drop of a policy.

So why is the tousled haired Tory being so coy? This could be his big moment. It might also be his last. The grass roots love him and his back benchers loathe him. He is of course getting the usual dozy advice from Louise Mensch holed up in a well padded Murdoch column in New York. Her advice is quite simply anyone who breaks cover and supports Brexit will be papabile and beloved of the grass roots. She has a point. But it is not a very good one. Firstly, although the bookies have the REMAINS as clear favourites there is always the chance that they could screw it up. If the OUTS win Cameron will be mortally damaged, but will hang on to give Osborne the best chance of succeeding him. What what if the Cameron haters force an election? Seeing the Tories really tear themselves apart might just breathe a bit of life into a dying Labour Party. And anyhow, if the grassroots choose a maverick or a post Thatcher nutter they will be no better than the Corbynistas with a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling of smug self righteousness. And just as politically doomed. There might even be a Lib Dem revival.

Then there is the conundrum of being the assassin. Does Boris really want to end up like Heseltine? I may be hopelessly wrong on this but Boris’s best chance of becoming leader is to show a bit of ankle, make a few gutter so noises about Brussels and then support REMAIN. He will then be rewarded with a big job and take his chances. Boris is desperate to be Prime Minister, but surely not that desperate to preside over the economic whirlwind and security nightmare of pulling us out of the EU. It would be enormously complicated and involve an awful lot of fine print. Not something he would savour. And his footnote in history? The PM who fucked it up.

I expect the pressure will now be intense for him to reveal his hand, not least from Number 10. But I imagine that his editor would ask that he bides his time until Monday when Telegraph readers eagerly await his column. My guts tell me that he will REMAIN, but the Boris Bird is a pesky little creature, who will pop up when you least expect him