SO, assuming he won’t clamber out of his political coffin between now and the autumn, Boris Johnson has trundled off-stage.
Will he retreat to the back benches, as did several of his predecessors? I doubt it – not enough limelight. Will he vanish from public life? I can’t see that either. Johnson is in the position where he could make an after-dinner speech and receive as much as £100,000. We know he made £275,000 a year for his newspaper column back in 2016. So a weekly column today is probably worth £300,000 a year or more. Nice little earner, eh? Then there are books. Can you imagine if Johnson wrote a kiss-and-tell of his Downing Street days how much that would make?
The fact Boris Johnson doesn't understand his own Brexit deal aside, what an utter humiliation that this blabbering clown is Prime Minister pic.twitter.com/vsW8Mynsny— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) November 8, 2019
Some are sighing “Missing him already.” Colourful, funny, out-going, but also intent on tearing up the Protocol, which could lead to economic disaster (a trade war with Europe) and political disaster (the EU forced to establish a border in Ireland). Keep in mind, though, that all those competing for his job are just as keen on dismantling the Protocol as he was.
The new British PM, willingly or unwillingly – is pretty certain to mimic Johnson, only without the jokes. No matter who moves into No.10, there’ll be severe pressure on him/her from the European Research Group (ERG) to keep the Protocol-smashing bull-dozer at full throttle.
Like a true Bullingdon Club man, Johnson leaves serious wreckage in his wake. Remember the wallpaper thing, about refurbishing the Downing Street flat? There’s an official £30,000 paid by the taxpayer for such things; Johnson, some claim, ran up a bill for around £200,000.
There’s the awarding of PPE equipment contracts to people who had political connections with the Tories in general and Boris in particular.
And let’s not forget Partygate: Johnson and chums quaffing cheerfully while the great British public had to stare at an iPad and watch their granny die alone.
The list goes on. So what you’ve got to ask yourself is, how did he do it? How did he plunge the UK into a post-truth world at least comparable with that of Donald Trump?
The answer is easy: Johnson was optimistic and Johnson was fun, and that’s the bit we’ll miss.
🖐️ The final five candidates in the Conservative leadership race have clashed over their tax plans in a fiery first TV debate.— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 15, 2022
Watch the highlights of the first Tory leadership debate ⬇️https://t.co/E05vTM6sky pic.twitter.com/Q54CcXxbWn
No matter what the disaster, Johnson approached it with gusto and the occasional quip. Remember way back when he compared the Covid graph to a Mexican hat we had to punch? Or when he talked about “the toot of the cavalry”– a freshly-invented Covid vaccine coming over the hill? Or his dismissal of Jeremy Corbyn as “a big girl’s blouse”?
Detest him or dote on him, he had a way of handling things with fist-pumping vigour and a witty remark. Most politicians, here or across the water, tend to approach the affairs of state in a grown-up and grim-faced way. Johnson was the uber-toff with a twinkle in his eye, popular even with poor people whose lives he was intent on wrecking.
It’s strange. We say we want politicians to work hard and address problems in a serious way. Yet when one of them comes up with jokes and a willingness to have a go, whether it’s on a zip-wire waving Union flags or eating an ice-cream, he or she is loved for it. Popularity gets you elected, and having a breezy, irreverent manner can take you all the way to No.10.
What a pity that along with these likeable qualities he was also egotistical, dishonest, a lazy posh boy who led Britain into Brexit, a state which will go on hurting his country for at least the next decade.