No Boris, the problem isn’t ‘a lack of believing in ourselves’, it’s a lack of believing you

Johnson has no problem with self-belief. Where he struggles is convincing other people to believe him

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Friday 05 July 2019 17:48
Boris Johnson denies being shut out of intelligence briefings

“We are painfully lacking in self-belief!”, Johnson did his best to thunder to the Darlington crowd. “We have to believe in ourselves!”

You can see why he’s angry. Self-belief has never been Johnson’s problem. Where he struggles is getting others to believe him. Like The Times newspaper, for example, when it sacked him for lying. Or Michael Howard, when he was Conservative Party leader, who did the same.

One wonders if, in his quiet moments, Johnson wonders why his own tragic character flaw goes curiously un-immortalised by the writers of the Greek myths. The Boris curse: to always lie and never be believed. Not going to do much to advance a plot, that, is it?

And lo! Boris did say, “I will build a bridge! From Scotland to Ireland! And when they say it can’t be done! I will say, it CAN be done.”

And then, in the end, it wasn’t done. Because everyone knew it couldn’t be done. It was just Boris, lying again.

We’ve now had two full weeks of the Tory leadership contest. Darlington on Friday morning, York the night before. Another night, another town, as Shed Seven so very nearly sang, and alas no one has yet burned this disco down.

And as the messages crystallise, it has come to feel very much like the 2016 race for the White House. Boris Johnson is going to make Brexit Great Again, because he believes, and so should you. Jeremy Hunt isn’t Boris Johnson, and that’s all he’s got to say.

Boris Johnson will tell you the UK is leaving the EU on 31 October, by any means necessary, no matter the consequences.

At one point, in York, someone had the temerity to ask him how he was going to do it. This short few minutes ended with half the 300-strong crowd applauding the idea of proroguing parliament. These are the people picking the next prime minister, all by themselves. Such are the quirks of the British parliamentary system. If parliament won’t give this small clique of very angry people exactly what they demand, they’re more than happy for parliament to be shut down altogether to accommodate them.

Johnson, as ever, is selling a fantasy. “Brexit is not a plague of boils, it is a great opportunity for this country,” is his latest soundbite. Brexit is a great opportunity for Boris Johnson. There are not any opportunities for anyone else.

He’s going to cut taxes and the tax yields are going to go up. “It’s something called the Laffer curve,” he said. It was a gross misrepresentation of the Laffer curve. Johnson likes to talk about the Laffer curve a lot, usually in the form of a joke about why he quit as a management consultant on his first day, because he was so bored learning about the Laffer curve. This should tell you everything you need to know about how much Boris Johnson knows about the Laffer curve.

In a year from now, Johnson bravely predicted, “We will have pitchforked off the incubus of Brexit. The gloom will have lifted, optimism will have returned, a great deal will have been negotiated and we will all be in much better fettle.”

It’s easy for Boris Johnson. He only has to self-believe this drivel. The rest of us have to believe Boris Johnson. Not easy, when all of it is a lie.

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