At the height of the partygate saga, a joke went round Westminster that every time the sense of crisis began to escalate, Boris Johnson would get on the phone to the Ukrainian President to arrange another trip to Kyiv.

Perhaps old habits die hard, as this weekend saw the classic Johnson double-header of a Sunday newspaper scandal combined with a dash to the war-torn country.

The optics of the former prime minister sitting next to a union flag at the president’s table are likely to warm the cockles of his allies in Westminster though – some of whom have already been floating the idea that he could return before the next election.

But anyone searching for a reminder of the downsides of the Johnson era needn’t look far.

The curious case of the £800,000 loan, the prime minister and the BBC chairman taps into all the trappings of a textbook Westminster controversy.

This may prove to be just a precursor to the Privileges Committee partygate investigation though – potentially the moment where many more gory details are churned up and laid out for all to see.

Combine all this with polling showing Mr Johnson is a good deal less popular across the country than he is with his loyalists in parliament, and a return to power anytime soon seems unlikely.

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Boris Johnson meets President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine

But how damaging are these stories to Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party more generally?

Answering this question is always difficult given the tendency of Westminster scandal to lower the public’s opinion of all politicians, rather than those of one specific party.

Mr Sunak may also find himself protected from some of the splatter of the Johnson controversies given his role in bringing down his former cabinet colleague.

That said, having kept the Tory Chairman Nadhim Zahawi in government, revelations that he had to repay tax from the sale of shares by an offshore trust are unfortunate for Mr Sunak given his wife’s previous non-dom status.

Read more:
Labour calls for investigation into BBC after Boris Johnson ‘sleaze’ allegations
Former Tory leader urges Nadhim Zahawi to ‘clear up’ questions over tax affairs
Rishi Sunak branded ‘total liability’ as he faces backlash from MPs

Setting this all in perspective though, it’s unlikely to rival NHS pressure and cost of living as issues that will influence the next election and determine how rough a ride the prime minister has with his MPs in the months ahead.

With that in mind, the most problematic moment of the last week for Mr Sunak could turn out to be when he told an audience in Lancashire that they were “not idiots” and so understood why he couldn’t cut tax straight away.

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That may easily be viewed as a direct barb by the many backbenchers who do want the tax burden reduced immediately.

Most of them are still keeping their counsel, but as inflation eases and the election grows ever nearer, that will likely change.

Then it could be Mr Sunak scrambling for a trip to Kyiv.

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