‘People love him or hate him’ says a headline in the Observer above a report about how Boris Johnson is regarded in Leeds. Twenty-five miles down the road in York, this ledge-bound observer is caught between dislike and hate so intense it curls the rim of my soul, but there you go.
Before we progress further, here is a question that’s been bothering me: what should we be calling the new prime minister kissed into power by a minuscule Tory rump?
This ‘Boris’ fellow we keep hearing about in the news is a chummy creation designed to hide a scheming and nasty political manipulator who’d sell his grandmother for five more minutes in the political limelight.
His predecessor was always Mrs Maybe in this blog. Johnson is not a surname to inspire such wordplay, but we should resist giving this Boris chancer his preferred name.
It will be Johnson around here until anything ruder springs to mind, although that rule is broken immediately in examining what is being called a “Boris bounce”. And, no, this is not an unwelcome reference to the Downing Street bedsprings, but a phrase to sum up a smallish boost in the opinion polls.
New leaders often experience such a fillip, so there is nothing surprising in this bounce. Gordon Brown experienced such a temporary uplift after similarly becoming prime minister without worrying the electorate.
Johnson is going around the country at present, trailing promises. Where Mrs Maybe told a nurse wanting a pay rise that there was no magic money tree, Johnson has planted a forest of these munificent conifers. He’s been shinning up them and throwing Monopoly money all over the place.
According to today’s headlines, he has set aside £100m for an ad campaign talking up a no-deal Brexit. A bonkers amount of money in a country where 4m people are trapped in poverty, according to a study by the Social Metrics Commission. That £100m should be spent on the impoverished or on schools, not passed onto the advertising agencies to produce vain propaganda.
Here to close a swift blog are three Brexit thoughts…
ONE: As it was never clear exactly what Brexit was, or how it would work, those Leavers who say their dream is being betrayed essentially betrayed themselves by having mad, unrealistic dreams about an EU-free world.
TWO: The no-deal Brexit now being shoved in our faces by Johnson and his Leaver-loon Cabinet is not a simple act of box-ticking, like declining to sign a new contract. It’s merely the start of a long and tortuous process likely to last for years.
THREE: If Brexit is so good for Britain, why is its chief architect Nigel Farage foraging around in the US with Trump supporters, raising money to fund the UK leaving the EU? If rich, right-wing Americans are so keen for us to leave Europe – along with their dangerous and inconstant president – how exactly is Brexit good for Britain? It sounds more as if it’s good for those who wish to exploit Britain once we leave the EU.
Suddenly those ‘shackles’ don’t look so bad.