If you’ve ever had the displeasure of reading Boris Johnson’s convoluted The Churchill Factor, you’ll be more than aware that he identifies himself as the rightful successor to the Churchillian throne. If you’ve had the displeasure of watching the news recently, you’ll also be aware that he couldn’t be further from the truth.
Much has been written about Johnson’s past, so I won’t go too far into it now. I won’t go into the fact that he was fired from the Tory frontbench for lying about his affair with Petronella Wyatt. I certainly won’t dwell on the fact that he accused Liverpudlians of wallowing in their ‘victim status’ following the Hillsborough disaster. And nor will I even hover over the fact that he described gay men as ‘tank-topped bum boys.’
I do, however, want to discuss the two things that are already starting to define his premiership: his ‘commitment’ to Brexit, and his band of jolly idiots referred to in polite society as the Cabinet.
Let’s start with Brexit, shall we? Readers, and podcast listeners, and anybody who knows me, will know that I think Brexit will be a fantastic thing. The EU, with its single market and its freedom of movement, imposes austerity and neoliberalism across the continent, making the commodification of labour a supra-national reality.
In the same ball park, its claims to being a democratic institution are exposed, day by day, as a load of nonsense. Just take a look at how Ursula von der Layen was elected. That is, if somebody winning a one-horse race can really be described as elected.
You’d think, therefore, that I’d be overjoyed that somebody who passionately defended our leaving the European Union had become our Prime Minister. Alas, I point you simply to the fact that Theresa May also defended, and fought for, our exit from the EU. As we all know, that didn’t quite work out the way she planned.
One of the reasons it didn’t quite work out was because May, for all her talk of no-deal, was so committed to leaving with some semblance of a deal that she accepted anything that was given to her. And, in Johnson, we see history repeating itself.
For all his talk of no-deal, he still remains openly committed to seeking a deal. Not a bad thing, we may argue, but by making clear that threatening a no-deal exit is merely a negotiating position, Johnson is undermining his own hand before he’s played it. It would appear that Johnson thinks his position, not that different from May’s, is special simply by virtue of the fact that it’s coming from his mouth.
What he also thinks is something special is his Cabinet. And this is where our real problems start. Because I believe in fair play, I’m not going to pass much comment on Jacob Rees-Mogg going from backbench MP to the Leader of the House. After all, it makes sense to put this man, who’s clearly having a passionate love affair with the Constitution, into that role.
But we do need to talk about Priti ‘bring back the death penalty’ Patel (important aside: Patel did roll back her support for state-sponsored murder in 2016.) I’m sure we all remember the day in 2017 when British journalism lost its mind, and tracked Patel’s plane back to England, where she would be fired. Why? For unauthorised meetings with Israeli leaders that British diplomats in Israel were not aware of.
So, what did Johnson do with somebody like that? He made her Home Secretary! I can’t help but feel that Johnson appointed her to a position in high office, despite being utterly disgraced less than two years previously, as a direct result of her endorsement of him in the Tory leadership contest. Pure conjecture, of course.
Another trigger for her elevation to the position is probably her distinct brand of disaster capitalism, which is the common thread that bleeds through Johnson’s Cabinet. Sajid Javid is a self-expressed admirer of the repulsive philosophy of Ayn Rand, whilst Dominic Raab wants to cut the top rate of tax from 45% to 35%.
Jacob Rees-Mogg (I’m sorry, I couldn’t leave him out for long) falls over himself to express support for zero-hour contracts, seeing criticism of them as just virtue-signalling from those pesky lefties. Meanwhile, Liz Truss (who couldn’t find it in herself to defend judges from the ‘enemies of the people’ claim back in 2016) can’t stop herself banging on about free markets, as if they’re some form of Christ incarnate destined to cure the social ills of twenty-first century Britain.
The real tragedy, though, isn’t the ideology that’s manifest within Johnson’s Cabinet. The real tragedy is that there’s no plausible alternative. With Johnson expected to call a general election at some stage, the country is going to face a choice between a self-serving egomaniac in the form of Boris Johnson, or a facilitator of anti-Semitic bigotry in the form of Jeremy Corbyn. That election would rather be like the choice between a 40 day desert hike with no water, or keeping the water but going without food.
Unless, of course, Jeremy Corbyn finally accepts that his brand of Leninist trash has had its day, and steps aside in favour of somebody far more ready to tackle Johnson’s excitable puppy act. But, unless Labour MPs grow a pair and show Corbyn the door, I simply can’t see that happening. Why? Because my description of Johnson as a self-serving egomaniac is equally applicable to the Leader of the Opposition.
It’s at times like this that the immortal of words of Gemma Collins come tumbling back to me: ‘get that fire exit door, I’m off.’