Voices: Boris Johnson is no longer an embarrassment to his country – only to himself
If the people over at Brand Finance Global Soft Power Summit had allowed their keynote Speaker, one Boris Johnson, to speak for even as little as two minutes more it seems almost a certainty that the former prime minister would have been arrested for exposing his own indecency.
It was not so much a speech, as a series of crescendoing cries for attention that became almost tragic. A poorly executed dirty protest against his own staggering failings, that ended with the protagonist having accidentally painted himself in to the corner of his own cell.
It had been billed as the moment at which Johnson would “break his silence” over his successor’s Brexit deal, though in the three days it took him to do so, it became ever more obvious that his views on said deal would be entirely irrelevant. It was wondered, for a while, whether he might be the figurehead of some sort of backbench rebellion over it. But by now, it had become clear that if he were to be the figurehead, the figure arse would be Mark Francois and absolutely no one else. The pantomime horse rebellion is clearly not happening.
Before he got there, he went on an aggressive gallop around the paddock of Headline Making as he could. He recited some full-fat, pre-wokeified Roald Dahl. He had some Important Views on the Elgin Marbles to share.
Apparently, “You can’t send away the Elgin Marbles any more than you can deport the 40 per cent of people in London who were born abroad.” One could point out the problems with that argument, but this keyboard cost me £4.99 from amazon and it’s just not worth the wear and tear.
We would learn that he “still doesn’t understand” why he was fined for “having lunch at my table in 10 Downing Street”, even though the explanation for precisely why has been set out in great length by the Metropolitan Police.
But he did want everyone to know that, “When I stepped down we were only a handful of points behind.”
At this point, it’s best to try and stop taking it all in and just let it wash over you like rain. To listen to the full speech was almost like a kind of mental healing therapy. Once upon a time, having to listen to this execrable garbage, all of which he has said before, many times over, was enough to send the blood pressure sky-rocketing. But these days, Johnson is no longer an embarrassment to his country, only to himself.
We would hear that the EU is apparently terrified of the prospect of British divergence, the UK “taking advantage of Brexit freedoms.” And that all Rishi Sunak has apparently done is capitulate to their demands. It hardly needs to be stated that it’s seven years since the people voted to leave the European Union. There are only so many years in which you can claim to be about to take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit, before you start to really annoy not only the 16 million people who didn’t vote for it, but rather a lot of the 17 million people who did. Every single poll indicates that huge numbers of them have really stopped caring about taking advantage of Brexit. They’d just like an ambulance, should they need one. Or even just a tomato.
But no, it was abrasion this, aggression that, Look At Me the other. He was, at all times, a wobbling, waffling advert for all of the 10,000 reasons his party quite correctly calculated they were far better off without him, which is itself arguably the only thing they have done in the past 13 years for which the rest of the country should be thankful.
There was a Q and A at the end. An audience who had just been treated to a full 30 minutes on why Brexit was so great, delivered by the revolution’s favoured son, was asked by the moderator, “Who thinks Brexit was a good idea?”
Johnson, arguably to his credit, did not look surprised when the number of hands that went up could be counted on the fingers of one knee. Johnson didn’t put his hand up either. He knows the truth as well as anybody else. But he also knows he’s got no choice but to carry on lying about it.