- 18 Sep 18
It was always evident that Boris Johnson was a cad and a bounder. But his latest pronouncements on the border confirm that he is far worse than that. It is time for the Labour Party to put a stop to his xenophobic gallop.
Honestly, I don’t care about Boris Johnson’s naff hair-do. I don’t care about his belly. I don’t even care about the ridiculous air of presumption and entitlement he exudes. There’s loads of toffs like that. Some of them even wear the kind of colossally ugly shorts he stuck on for that excruciating photo-op when he brought mugs of tea out to the media, camped outside his house, a couple of weeks ago.
The lovely, thoughtful fellow. Not.
His personal life means nothing to me either. If a relatively small number of women have such appallingly bad taste that they serially want to screw him, then fine. That’s their problem. In fact, I really don’t give a damn how many of them there are, or if he is sprinting from one bedroom to another to fit them all in. Good luck to the lot of them. I sincerely hope that no one gets gonorrhea. Well, maybe not exactly sincerely.
His second wife could divorce him three times over and it’d matter not a whit. She can’t really have expected him to be faithful, as they say, till death did them part? Or maybe she did. Either way, the fact that he looks like one of Billy Bunter’s chums should have been a giveaway. He was always going to behave like an overgrown schoolboy, with his finger in someone else’s pie.
The UK tabloids may love this lurid shit, but it is a tawdry peep-show at best. Toffs are beastly to one another all the time. So what?
Which, up to a point, is all well and good: there was a time when Boris Johnson might indeed have been dismissed as a pipsqueak, sub-adolescent attention-seeker. Some people laughed with him. People with better taste laughed at him. People with better taste again ignored the clown completely. After all, he was just another jerk-off, thumb-sucking Tory. With any luck he might bring half the party crashing down around him, but if not, the assumption was that at least you knew more or less where you stood with him because he was ‘outspoken’.
Then came Brexit, revealing a whole new layer of Johnsonian treacherousness and duplicity.
Prior to 2016, Boris Johnson had not campaigned for Britain to leave the EU. In fact, when the date for the referendum on Brexit was announced, the working assumption was that he would try to leverage some form of commitment to advancement within the Tory party from the then-Prime Minister David Cameron and join the Remain side. As ever desperately craving the spotlight, he dithered publicly till the last minute. Then, he announced that he was supporting Leave.
Straight away, you could smell the rank, self-serving opportunism. He became the poster boy of Vote Leave, the official anti-EU campaign. He took to the role as if he had been born to lie, and went about that task with apparent relish. As the campaign unfolded, it became clear that he was indeed a more putrid scoundrel than we had known, who would do and say almost anything in his personal quest for power, publicity and aggrandisement.
The people of London had voted this godawful buffoon as Mayor. Twice. Watching him waddling around and acting the complete plonker on the Brexit campaign trail, you had to marvel at how easily the ordinary, voting citizens of the British capital had been hoodwinked.
In addition to brazenly lying, and deliberately misleading voters, and running utterly mendacious ads on social media, Boris Johnson and the rest of the right-wing mob who engineered the Brexit debacle cheated. Vote Leave didn’t just bend the electoral rules, they broke them, spending well above the legally permitted limits, on the assumption that it wouldn’t be spotted – but in any event knowing that the Electoral Commission doesn’t have the teeth to inflict real pain if the facts of their chicanery caught up with them
We all know what happened next. The British people were duped. They voted leave. David Cameron resigned in ignominy. Boris Johnson was appointed Foreign Secretary by the new Tory leader Teresa May. In that role, it is perfectly clear that he had every opportunity to get stuck into the negotiations with the EU, and deliver the result he claimed to want – but he failed miserably to come up with a single idea that might have smoothed the way towards an orderly, workable Brexit. Eventually, he sat through the meetings at which Theresa May’s Chequers proposals were discussed and he accepted the plan. A few days later, he did a u-turn and resigned. Someone must have whispered to him, Lady Macbeth-style, that this was his big opportunity to stick an assassin’s knife in Theresa May’s back.
Now out of office, and back writing a column for the Daily Telegraph, he could scatter the blame anywhere and everywhere, all the better to deflect it from himself and the rest of the cranks, bounders and fools who had promised that Brexit would be ‘easy’. Better still, he could foment hatred of the EU, and its negotiators, by claiming that they are being obstructive and vindictive when really chaps there’s a simple solution to it all. (There must be!)...
In his role as Telegraph loudmouth, he is now, of course, a walking, talking lump of unedifying clickbait. He is far more suited to this tawdry gig than he is to doing something to help clean up the mess which he, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and their ilk created. But of course this, too, is part of what has always been the real plan: to supplant Theresa May as the leader of the Conservative Party.
“In the talks so far, Brussels gets what Brussels wants,” he said in a column last week – deliberately ignoring the fact that the EU negotiators are acting on the explicit instructions of the 27 member states.
“Under the Chequers proposal, we are set to accept their rules – forever – without any say in the making of those rules. It is a humiliation. We look like a seven stone weakling being comically bent out of shape by a 500lb gorilla.”
The implicit message, of course, being that the EU are behaving like depraved animals.
That, however, was trivial and inoffensive alongside his attitude to the border question. His position on this has always been absurd, bleating that there has to be a technological solution to it – which, of course, he failed entirely to devise while he was a member of Theresa May’s cabinet. He talked about congestion charges as a model, apparently unaware that this was like comparing a pea to a brain.
The so called ‘border backstop’, was formally agreed by Theresa May with the EU and signed up to as part of the agreement known as the Joint Report, issued in December 2017, while he was still Foreign Secretary. This agreement sets out that if the UK and the EU cannot agree specific technological solutions to deliver ‘no hard border’ between the EU and the UK on the island of Ireland, then either the UK as a whole or Northern Ireland will remain aligned to the single market and the customs union after Brexit takes place. As a member of cabinet, he accepted this formula. Now, it is the end of the world as he knows it.
“We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail,” he said about the backstop, in the same column. “We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution – and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.”
The language here, of course, is typical of the xenophobic British far-right. It plays on anti-Muslim sentiments. It casts the man from the EU in the role of blackmailer and potential mass murderer. And it also depicts the Irish as trouble-makers, who have triggered all of this unseemliness by making the border an issue in the first place.
His real purpose, of course, is to stir up opposition to Theresa May, on the run-in to the Tory conference. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson offers not a single coherent thought as to how the problem might actually be solved.
The truth is that none of the Brexiteers gave a shit about Northern Ireland. Nor about the Belfast Agreement. Nor about any of the appalling pain, suffering and violence that preceded it. The fact that a significant majority in Northern Ireland opposed Brexit was irrelevant too. In their fetid cocktail of arrogance, intolerance and xenophobia, they thought they would be in a position to blithely dictate the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. They imagined that car manufacturers in Germany would bully Angela Merkel into capitulation. They dreamed of the EU falling apart to suit them. And when the border was mentioned, they thought, “Topping! We can use the idea that the natives might revert to violence in Northern Ireland as a way of getting what we want.”
Instead, they got Michel Barnier, a man who has been given a mandate and is calmly trying to do the logical thing in the face of mounting hysteria and abuse from the other side.
It is impossible to know where all of this will end. But what we do know is that deliberately setting out to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister by using language aimed at stirring up the kind of hatred and animosity – on the British side – that Europe mercifully consigned to the past in the post-war era says everything we need to know about Boris Johnson. He is not just pompous and self-serving. He has no moral compass whatsoever. And if the cards were to fall in his favour he is potentially dangerous.
But will they? It is encouraging that, as the scale of the disastrous impact of a hard Brexit comes ever more inexorably into focus in the UK, hysteria and abuse are not winning hearts and minds. Recent opinion polls have confirmed that there is now a significant majority in favour of a second referendum, in which the decision to leave the EU might well be overturned. The Trades Union Congress has also indicated its support for a second referendum. Civil war is breaking out among the Tories.
The twisted bigots who dreamt up the Brexit folly are fighting a rearguard action. It is time for the UK Labour Party to kill them off entirely – and hopefully thereby to put the straw man permanently out of his misery.