IF the EU referendum thing taught us one thing, it would be that Oxbridge boys never suffer from a crisis of confidence.

If it taught us two things, it’s that facts don’t always trump emotion in terms of their effectiveness with the electorate.

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Writer and presentation guru Jay Heinrichs has written a book How to Argue With a Cat – A Human’s Guide to the Art of Persuasion. On Radio Four on Wednesday, he made a convincing case as to why logic is not the most powerful tool of persuasion.

Politics over the last two years has proven this phenomenon through the rise of Trump, and the success of the bombastic – and empty – rhetoric that he espoused. The EU referendum brought the same tactics to our shores. Personality politics overtook policy and its emergence was no accident. The Leave campaign was a masterclass in the art of the con. Johnson, Rees-Mogg and Gove emerged as the star grifters, weaving a sticky web with hollow words and empty promises.

There is an argument to be made about the extent to which the media enabled their deception. It is difficult – and never more so than in a referendum campaign – to juggle balance and fairness against proper security and challenge. After all, not all statements made during a campaign are created equal. Some are deliberately misleading, and it is these outlandish sound bites which should be afforded greater scrutiny.

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There are specific lessons to be learned about the way the £350 million for the NHS bus pledge was handled. Those of us in the so-called media bubble sometimes overlook the fact that most voters only properly engage with politics when there is an impending vote. It is irresponsible to give all statements and claims equal weight – regardless of veracity – when most people are too busy or unenthused to check whether to take what an MP or government minister says with a pinch of salt.

To many of us, the enduring political success of the likes of Liam Fox and Boris Johnson seems inexplicable. The latter has bumbled his way through every position of power he has ever held, all the while scrambling towards the one he really wants. His naked ambition and well-documented ineptitude – far from being a death knell on his prospects – has propelled him forward into that coveted position of being a politician that ordinary members of the public recognise.

His failings are often glossed over with a ruffle of that famous hair and a well-chosen Latin descriptor.

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This week, a leaked memo surfaced that Johnson had written to the Prime Minister, in which he said that it was not Britain’s responsibility to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary’s words angered his opponents who branded him “reckless” and called on to him to resign.

By any usual standard, this should be the final straw for a politician who has single-handedly reinvented the word “gaffe” into something far more serious and sinister.

But Johnson’s tendency to grab headlines for all the wrong reasons is also his salvation. When you are so haphazard, so careless in enacting your duties as minister your failings eventually lose the ability to shock and appall. And if you have failed and failed and failed again – but held on to your job – then your career becomes the indestructible cockroach that cannot be squashed.

Johnson – like Trump – has set the bar so low, that any time he manages to scuttle under it without causing a diplomatic incident it is viewed as a relative success.

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The Government quickly responded to the leaked memo, by reiterating their commitment to no hard border or physical infrastructure on the Irish border. As did Johnson.

But many will be wondering whether the assurances of a man who has shown so little regard for the truth can be trusted.

That’s another trick up the con artist’s sleeve – a promise that can be quickly revoked if it is not convenient. When politicians wear their lack of integrity and reliability as a badge of honour – or a joke flower on their lapel – what’s one more unfulfilled pledge?

Most voters won’t follow every twist and turn of this very British political drama – so the pressure on the likes of Johnson won’t come from them. The downfall of the hard Brexiteers is far more likely to be provoked from MPs in their own party, who may feel they have sat through one card trick too many.