The story of the overheard row between Boris Johnson and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, is the obsession of the media moment. As you will know, unless you’ve sensibly kept your head in a biscuit tin all weekend, the altercation is said to have been so loud it could be heard in surrounding properties.
A concerned neighbour phoned the police and recorded the argument, sending a copy to the Guardian (which broke the story but has not at the time of writing released the recording).
The story took over Twitter, where both sides of the divide threw things at each other all day long. And, yes, we are looking at you Allison Pearson of the Daily Telegraph (slavishly pro-Boris, naturally) and Jay Rayner of the Observer (anti-Boris and virulently anti-Allison).
Twitter broadly split in two…
ONE: This was a private affair and the Guardian was a nasty left-wing sneak (as too were those nosy neighbours).
TWO: This was a matter of character suitability to high office and, importantly, a sober reminder that a woman heard screaming from inside a flat could be a victim of domestic violence.
The Sun went in hard against the neighbours and the Guardian, dismissing the story as a left-wing plot or some such flapdoodle. And then devoted its front page today to a story about how the couple have been arguing for weeks – “BORIS & CARRIE 4 ROWS IN 6WKS”. An inelegant headline and a hypocritical one, as the story leans on the Guardian report the Sun had previously disdained and rubbished.
Over the weekend, Johnson faced the first hustings of the leadership contest in front of party members in Birmingham. Interviewed by the Tory-supporting broadcaster Iain Dale, he refused to answer questions about the reported row, preferring to indulge in self-important blather…
Then again, he didn’t get where he is today without self-important blather, and sometimes you can see the scum around his feet, like that left by a departing tide; but I digress.
The often-repeated cliché about Boris Johnson is the line about how the only person who can stop Boris is Boris himself. The overheard row, reportedly including shouting, swearing and the sound of breaking glass, supports the self-sabotage theory. If he’d not had that row, he wouldn’t have been overheard, the police wouldn’t have been summoned and he’d have gone to Birmingham without trailing a new scandal.
Johnson is a journalist/politician, like his defeated rival Michael Gove, so he should be aware of newspaper games. After all, he is still playing those games over at the Telegraph, where he is the Brexit-cake-and-eat-it-correspondent, with crumbs on his trousers and jam on his tie as proof.
I am beginning to feel Boris-ed out. But then I am Jeremy-ed out times two (sneaky and sly Tory weasel one; beardy, fence-sitting Labour one).
This whole Boris shouts story seems to reflect the main headline in the Observer of Sunday June 16 – “Divided, pessimistic, angry: survey reveals bleak mood of Pre-Brexit UK.”
Polarised and pessimistic – yup, that BritainThinks survey hits the pointed finger right on the chewed nail.
And if you think Boris Johnson is the man to pull us out of that morass, you haven’t been paying attention at all.