Boris Johnson

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson (53), burning with ambition to seize the moment and make Britain great again, still has his eyes set on replacing Theresa May in Number 10. Jockeying for power in the chaotic days following last year’s Brexit vote saw him openly betrayed by fellow conservative Michael Gove who launched his own bid for No 10 at the eleventh hour, adding to the confusion and clearing the way for Mrs May to grab the reins of government. Mr Johnson was given the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a consolation prize – a classic example of keeping your enemies closer.

That may have been the last politically astute move by Theresa May. Ever since, the going has been downhill for the prime minister who has proved singularly unable to quell infighting amongst cabinet members and produce a coherent policy for dealing with the referendum outcome other than repeating the hollow Brexit Means Brexit mantra.

Boris Johnson can, however, be counted on to regularly provide a lighter note. The man is many things, dull he is not. At the FCO and to the horror of its many seasoned diplomats, he set the tone of the debate by insisting that Great Britain can have its cake and eat it too, meaning that the country’s policy objective is to exit the European Union without losing access to its good bits such as unfettered access to the single market. Understandably, Brussels was not impressed. Not one to take a hint or be stopped from barging across red lines, Mr Johnson then told the EU to “go whistle” as the bloc asked the UK to honour its financial commitments – a yet-to-be-determined sum anywhere between €30bn to €60bn.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Johnson was gently steered away from any direct dealings with the European Union, dispatched to faraway places where his wisecracks – it was hoped – would do less harm. Positively disliked on the continent, Mr Johnson remains quite popular at home. There is no denying his charisma and wit, misguided though the latter may often be. He is also a cunning politician and, as such, an opportunist at heart – forever ready to latch his wagon to the winning team. In the runup to the 2016 Brexit referendum, and sensing the leavers would have it, he kept the nation in suspense before, at the very last moment, coming out on the Brexit side of the debate.

Invariable described as a toff, clown, narcissist, and habitual liar by those whom he failed to charm, Mr Johnson does not fit any mould – he is a one-off and doesn’t do stereotypes. Former Lib-Dem frontman Nick Clegg described him, rather aptly, as “Donald Trump with a thesaurus”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, otherwise known as the Torygraph, columnist Daniel Hannan concluded that Mr Johnson’s irrepressible cheerfulness was the single-most important cause of the severe dislike he inspires amongst continentals. Mr Hannan has a point: when Boris Johnson, with his larger-than-life persona and not known for pulling a sour face, excitedly talks and writes about the many joys Brexit will deliver the home front smiles whilst diplomats in Brussels turn blue with repressed anger.

Famous for promising a Brexit windfall of £350m per week, to be delivered to the National health Service, Boris Johnson cannot be bothered to check the facts – he flatly refuses to be bored by details. An early adopter of alt-truths, Mr Johnson in his previous guise as a journalist was sacked from The Times for pulling quotes out of thin air. Moving over to The Daily Telegraph, he was appointed the paper’s correspondent in Brussels where he continued, rather merrily, to make up stories that discredited the EU, prompting The Guardian’s John Palmer to brand him “thoroughly irresponsible journalist.” However, readers couldn’t get enough of it – and continue to do so notwithstanding the twisted truths and distorted realities presented.

Deeply unsatisfied with the government’s pussyfooted approach to Brexit, Mr Johnson in mid-September again struck home, publishing a 4,200-word essay in The Daily Telegraph meant as an opening salvo of a renewed bit to weaken, if not oust, Prime Minister May. Setting himself up as the only viable alternative to Mrs May should she pawn the table silver to Brussels in an attempt to mollify the continentals, Mr Johnson and his “glorious Brexit” stand ready to deliver a remake of Great Britain’s Finest Hour.

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