- 06 Dec 19
In which the author recalls some of the more lovely scenes from British politics over the past three years; reflects on the admirable qualities of the leader of the Conservative Party, and serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the right-honourable member, Boris Johnson; and, with the Brexit election looming, makes a heart-felt plea to the American entrepreneur and occasional beneficiary of public largesse, Ms. Jennifer Arcuri, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The future of the UK may be in her hands...
We are at the end of a long and diabolical year, with Brexit looming larger than ever. There were, indeed, times over the past 12 months, when what was happening on the international stage politically was hard to believe. England. The US. Russia. Turkey. Brazil. Syria. Libya. Hungary. Italy. Israel. China (bleeding into neighbouring Hong Kong). Nasty shits almost everywhere, with their hands on the levers of power.
Here at home we had thugs on the streets too. Hate-mongers who want to foment hostility to immigrants. To the other. To anyone who is not fíor-gael – as if that ignorant, self-regarding phrase ever really meant anything. These creeps see Brexit, and the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK as an opportunity. They have become more aggressive, donning yellow vests and getting in people’s faces.
In response, the grubbiest among our politicians – ignoramuses like Noel Grealish, for example – have begun to spout the language of hatred. Calling asylum seekers spongers. Accusing them of criminality. Claiming that they are a factor in the housing problem.
So far, for the most part, Irish people have risen above all of that. But, in cowboy country, old tensions remain, bubbling under the surface. In their hearts, the Primitives are hoping that Brexit will see border infrastructure being re-installed on the island of Ireland. Then they will try to mobilise. There will be intimidation. Knee-cappings. Shootings. There will be bombs.
To say that we in Ireland have skin in the game in relation to Brexit is to understate it. We have blood and guts and savagery too, a whole tortured history of it. And so, we will need to be very smart to avoid a situation where people on this island become collateral victims in what should have been a mere bunfight within the Tory party.
As it turned out, the fates couldn’t have conspired more cruelly, once David Cameron had set the Brexit ball rolling, by triggering a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The might-not-have-beens included the presence of Jeremy Corbyn, a natural ‘leaver’, as leader of the Labour Party. An unscrupulous charlatan by the name of Boris Johnson jumping ship to the Brexit camp. A hopelessly botched Remain campaign. Russian interference via social media. Unscrupulousness and a tidal wave of lies on the Leave side. Electoral rules broken. The police lying low. No one held to account.
The Brexiteers didn’t have the first idea what leaving the EU would involve. No one gave a hoot about Northern Ireland (they still don’t). Nor did they have any sense of the division and pain that would follow. But enough of the electorate wanted to give that smug Eton prat Cameron the bloody nose he deserved. 52% voted to leave.
A soft Brexit was still possible, but Teresa May decided to entirely discount the 48% who voted to remain. We might never know who got in her ear and how, but she caved in to the Tory hard-right and started to dig her own political grave. Instead of trying to build a new consensus, she announced red lines for negotiations with the EU that amounted to impossible demands. Inevitably, she would have to retreat. But first, convinced that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn would be easily defeated, in 2017, she called a snap election.
This was the most unnecessary and pitiful calamity of all. Instead of returning with an increased Conservative majority, she was hoisted on her own petard, a hung parliament foisted on herself. That Teresa May was naive to the point of dunce-hood soon became apparent. To stay in power, she did a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the DUP, without securing an agreement from them in relation to Brexit. Now they were in the driving seat. My, oh my, how the Alabama-style backwoodsmen and women of Northern Irish politics loved it.
She hammered out a deal with the EU, which included a ‘backstop’ that – all else failing – would keep Northern Ireland in the Custom’s Union. It was scuppered by Nigel Dodds and co. May had to suck it up and start over. A UK-wide backstop proved even harder to sell. She failed, failed and failed again to get the approval of parliament. There was nothing for it but to resign.
She left us with some of the most cringeworthy moments of any Prime Ministerial career ever: the boorish swine Donald Trump, holding her lickle hand during a visit to Washington and she unable to loosen his pussy-grabbing fist; walking on stage at the Tory party conference to the soundtrack of Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ (was she really thinking of putting Lizzie out of a job?); and best of all, the speech during which she was handed a P45 by a prankster, and wracked by a coughing fit, before the slogan on the backdrop – building a country that works for everyone! – started to collapse behind her.
Hey lord, don’t ask me questions.
Was it really possible that, in her sorry wake, the Conservative Party had no one better qualified than Boris Johnson to become leader of the party – and therefore Prime Minister? By now, the drift of the Tories to the far right was inexorable. The deck was stacked in Johnson’s dissembling favour. He romped home in the leadership contest and brought the execrable arch-Europhobe Dominic Cummings into No.10 Downing Street as his senior adviser. The only way was down. And so it has proved.
Ordinary Decent Chancers
Over the past six months, it has been like the Madhatter’s Tea Party reimagined as a daily horror soap. No wonder citizens of Ireland, North and South, watched from behind the sofa as the Brexit shit-show played out in Westminster. There were moments when all you could do was laugh at the utterly farcical nature of what was happening in the mother of all parliaments. Because if you didn’t laugh, you might just do something desperate.
Looked at in one way, what was happening in the House of Commons through 2019 really was funnier than the scriptwriters for Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You or Mock The Week combined could ever have dreamt up. It was gruesomely hilarious to be a spectator as Boris Johnson lost one vote after another in parliament; was skewered as a liar by every single member of the UK Supreme Court; and told that parliament had not in fact been prorogued at all despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that he had sold porky pies to the Queen, who was reportedly ‘livid’.
Hurrah for her, but what about Prince Andrew? Bounders abound.
Meanwhile, behind the gallows humour and the howls of tortured laughter lurked something else, something stinking, something rotten: the skin-crawling suspicion that, in the long run, the weasel might actually win a majority in an election.
Then he called one. We would see now.
At the time of writing, for the Hot Press Annual, it is impossible to predict the outcome of the British general election. With less than a week to go to polling day, it seems that everything is still to play for. The opinion polls all point to a Tory victory. There has, however, been a narrowing of the gap. There has also been a huge number of new voter registrations, most of them by young people.
Might this mean that the polls are behind the curve-ball and that first-time voters will bring in enough Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party MPs to ensure another hung parliament?
Your guess is probably as good as ours.
What is unavoidable right now, however, is this. It is a colossal absurdity that a man who is void of principle, has no grasp whatsoever of the concept of ’truth’, and who doesn’t even seem to know how many children he has failed to use contraception effectively enough to avoid impregnating one hapless partner or another with, is far enough ahead in the polls to suggest that he will indeed get the majority that would allow him and the feckless Tory toffs and scoundrels with whom he has surrounded himself to do their worst in relation not just to Brexit but to every aspect of social, political and economic life in the now semi-permanently dis-United Kingdom.
You might have thought it unthinkable. But it is no less real for that.
If he does win a majority, it will of course be a perfect statement about the pathetically stupid and unrepresentative first-past-the-post system that they use in elections in the UK. Nevertheless, a victory for Boris Johnson will also amount to a damning indictment of politics generally in Britain – and by extension of the philistine Tory media and ultimately of the electorate, or at least significant portions of it.
Are people really so thoroughly dumbed down that they could fail to see through the ludicrous spoofing, the bluster and the downright lies of Boris Johnson? Do they really want a man who has made a living out of abusing unmarried mothers, immigrants, black people, gay men, muslims, victims of sexual abuse, the people of Liverpool and Europeans alike as their Prime Minister?
To describe Boris Johnson as a chancer would be to insult Ordinary Decent Chancers the world over. He is a lower than low, worse than a snake, prepared to do anything to further his own aggrandisement, to make coin and to gain power.
But there is, perhaps, one remaining hope.
A Proper Bang
As I write, I am thinking of that ‘gifted’ American entrepreneur, the woman who goes by the name of Jennifer Arcuri. And I am hoping that the grubby old sexist adage that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned might prove to be true just this once.
Poor Jennifer thought she really was onto something when she formed a ’special relationship’ with the then-Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which involved him calling frequently around to her place – the one with the special pole for, you know, ‘tech lessons’. Yes.
What sort of ‘tech lessons’ I wonder?
She: “This is how you put on a condom, with your teeth, while hanging upside down!”
He: “Sod that. I don’t like the smell of rubber.”
Happy days! He got the lessons. She got the gravy, in the form of various grants and supports to go to trade conferences – which he also attended! How lovely that must have been for both of them.
Now though, Jennifer is complaining, and rightly so. He refuses to take her calls. Blanks her. Hands the phone to some wanky operative who talks down to her like she is some kind of ex-bit on the side. Won’t let her near No.10. And so she has decided – for now! – to refuse to deny that she had sex with him, instead portraying an idyllic scene wherein they were very close indeed. Fast friends forever. And loose too!
Just take my call, Boris and we can regain those Elysian Fields. Carrie don’t compare! Get off my fucking laptop! I mean what was that sordid little midnight row all about? Surely the girl was not poking her lovely little nose into your porn trail! The total bitch! Just take my call, Boris.
But he isn’t. And he won’t. And so the question is this: might she decide that his preference for humiliating her publicly is a very bad one and go for broke and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their relationship? Might she spill the beans by admitting that there was in it – allegedly! – more than just an element of cash for splash?
Perhaps more than any other individual, Jennifer Arcuri now holds the future of the dis-United Kingdom in her hands. She could bring the Brits back from the brink. She could torpedo Boris Johnson, which would surely be a kind of poetic justice since we are all under the impression that he regularly torpedoed her. Or something. She could bring the whole shagging edifice down around his ankles.
Jennifer, this is the only way you are going to see anything down around his ankles ever again. So do us all a favour. Come clean. Give the British people what they deserve: every gory detail of all the stuff that Boris and you got up to, whatever it was, wherever it was – and fuck the begrudgers.
You are entitled to insist on your part in the history of the modern world being fully and finally recognised – and sure as a pig shits, the porcine one is not going to help! Torpedo the swine.
Let’s go out in a blaze of glory – and end 2019 with a proper bang.
- Film & TV
- 16 Aug 22