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Full through the looking glass: Caroline Nokes reviews 'The Plot'

7 June 2022: then-prime minister Boris Johnson chairs a Cabinet meeting | PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

3 min read

Nadine Dorries has actually written a page-turner – but only because I was desperate for it to end

If we are allowed to write entire books (allegedly non-fiction) dragging out contrived James Bond references, then what is a little Lewis Carroll between friends? Except that Alice has not woken up in Wonderland, but has gone full throttle Through the Looking Glass. At least there is a rabbit, but disappointingly non-specific in colour. I desperately need it to be a white one, and the proud owner of a pocket watch.

Perhaps my literary inspiration is wrong because there are numerous references to a trench coat. Maybe Columbo was retained to investigate The Plot. Appropriate, because with him we always know whodunnit. We certainly have a mystery but, regrettably, this one has no denouement. 

At least there is a rabbit, but disappointingly non-specific in colour

All we have is a so-called plot. The same plot, going round in endless circles until every Tory leader is done for by the same cabal, with the same objective and the same modus operandi. But to what end exactly? If “Dr No” really is determining who shall be the leader of the Conservatives, he’s a pretty poor judge of character and keeps backing the wrong horses. Consequently he has to get rid of them in pretty short order. Given that he is supposed to have honed his craft over decades, you’d have thought by now he would have found a leader he actually liked. So, if Dr No really is Machiavelli, it would seem that he’s one of a job lot acquired from Poundland – possibly along with the trench coat. 

If this plot is actually about settling scores and not some great investigation, then it appears to have had little thought as to the collateral damage.

The PlotIn Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts tediously repeated, “off with his head”. Such repetition is simply boring, and if this Queen of Hearts told us once that Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings were in cahoots, she told us 100 times. And if it was so obvious to every single one of the Bond sobriquet interviewees, and to the author, why did the truth elude the great political brain that is Boris Johnson?

I would like to say The Plot was a page-turner, and I was desperate to get to the end. That’s true in a sense, but only because there was a deadline to meet. Indeed, the underwhelming plot had to fight with two attention-seeking dogs and the previous week’s Bake Off on catch up. Only a grim determination took me through to the end, and that proved to be a bad decision. Bake Off at least has substance and structure – think bread week – and the dogs are never boring… unlike The Plot

Caroline Nokes is Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North

The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson
Written by: Nadine Dorries
Publisher: HarperCollins

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