THE Great Offices of State have been graced by the gamut of personalities down the years, none more so than that of Prime Minister. From the majesty of Churchill and the iron fist of Thatcher, to the unctuousness of Cameron and Blair, the inhabitants of Number 10 have usually managed a certain dignity.
Let’s make no bones about it, Boris Johnson is no statesman. He doesn’t do gravitas or decorum. Indeed this is part of his charm, and perhaps his greatest asset. He’s a Peter Pan: a perpetually tousle-haired schoolboy forced into long trousers. While he does a passable impersonation of a politician, he’s at his best shooting down zip wires, rugby-tackling Japanese ten-year-olds, or wryly making tea for journalists laying siege to his house.
In an age where everything is micromanaged and focus-grouped before rehearsal in front of the mirror, he dares possess that quality so absent from the usual denizens of Westminster – he’s real. Like Prince Philip, Johnson is fond of or prone to gaffes (depending on your taste). In fact, a Johnson PR event would be remarkable only by its absence of controversial comments. Here are a few of his best one-liners:
On speeding: ‘No one obeys the speed limit except a motorised rickshaw.’
On obesity: ‘Face it: it’s all your own fat fault.’
On Portsmouth: ‘Too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs.’
It would be a mistake to dismiss Johnson as a mere buffoon, however, something far too many of his opponents are wont to do. He’s cunning and calculating if need be. Flip-flopping over Brexit and supporting Theresa May’s withdrawal treaty at the third time of asking (a Bill he had previously dubbed a ‘turd’), does not exactly scream integrity. Nor does his oft-quoted support of David Cameron: ‘I’m backing David Cameron’s campaign out of pure, cynical self-interest’ (many a true word and all that).
Where I feel Johnson performs well is the Leftie handwringing he causes without getting out of bed. In a time where saying anything of meaning automatically leads to fainting fits, it has long been the benchmark of a good orator that he causes sufficient outrage. It is refreshing to observe the media passing around smelling salts as a matter of necessity in his presence.
Even mute, Johnson violates the progressive narrative so strongly that he is clearly confusing opponents who thought the victim card had been enshrined into law: Eton, straight, white, male, wealthy – privilege and patriarchy embodied.
Ash ‘I’m literally a communist’ Sarkar couldn’t manage anything other than a denunciation of Johnson’s charisma:
Boris Johnson’s success illustrates how powerful class deference still is in this country.
I’m sick of these gentlemen amateurs who think they deserve to run the country just because they’ve got the “right” breeding ???pic.twitter.com/cHDmfhZInJ
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) July 26, 2019
Corbyn meanwhile (privileged, straight white man) decided to focus on how unrepresentative Johnson’s election was, conveniently forgetting that Gordon Brown and himself were elected much the same way:
Boris Johnson has been elected by fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Tory members. pic.twitter.com/cixmOtBvce
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 23, 2019
Illiberal anti-democrat leader Jo Swinson stamped her foot and wrung her hands furiously at the notion that Boris had promised to deliver the will of the people, at least 17.4million of whom she knows better than:
"I rage when Boris Johnson is more interested in sucking up to Donald Trump than standing up for British values."
Jo Swinson, the newly-elected leader of the Lib Dems, says Boris Johnson "has shown time and time again that he isn't fit to be Prime Minister". pic.twitter.com/L7DOmFifZ8
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 22, 2019
No matter how much the Left, the media, and Remain scream he’s the wrong man for the job, ‘a shallow, narcissistic, womanising liar’ – they’re wrong; that’s exactly the man we need for the job: a real one.
Here’s why Boris is a win for Britain:
First of all, if he does nothing except burn wads of £50 notes, Boris will do far less damage to the nation than the sell-out May or the anti-British quisling Corbyn.
Second, the UK needs a boost. It is not ‘austerity’ (the ignominy of a 42-inch plasma TV and an iPhone 6), but misery and defeatism which are crippling Britain. There is no finer court jester than Boris, eviscerating Corbyn et al with consummate ease in his first foray at the dispatch box. And while a new leader might expect a honeymoon period, the ‘Boris bounce’ (a 10-point lead over Labour) is impressive.
Third, Johnson is an unashamed patriot – he loves his country, which is not something you can accuse the opposition of.
Fourth, people like him. Even a professional harridan like Kay Burley has grudgingly admitted she can’t help herself.
Fifth, Boris already has a good relationship with the US President. Trump for his part, has been vocal in his approval of Johnson, stating his desire for a substantial trade deal:
— Frank Haviland ?? (@Frankhaviland) July 27, 2019
Only the Left could spin this as a negative, but even they must be hard-pushed to envisage Corbyn ‘negotiating’ with big Don.
Boris would not have been my first choice for PM, though I acknowledge he will provide an entertaining pantomime all the while he is in office. For Johnson himself, the clock is ticking. October 31 looms large, and our PM must know he is not going to get away with half-measures – May Mark IV will not wash.
In order to shoot the Brexit Party’s fox, he will need to engender a deal which takes back our fisheries, fully removes the spectre of EU law alongside the interference of the ECHR, and removes the backstop. Failing that, a no-deal Brexit must be orchestrated, and to his credit Johnson has already called the EU’s bluff on this.
Whether Johnson is the real deal remains to be seen. If he can deliver a proper Brexit, he will have done his job. Failing that, the guest suite will need to be prepared for Nigel Farage; either eventuality works for me.