Boris Johnson is worried about damaging trust in politics – we all know the damage is him

It is hard to calibrate whether he managed to keep a straight face. It is, after all, a face whose natural state is an entitled smirk, and one that is itself a joke all over the world

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Friday 30 August 2019 17:14
Comments
Chants of 'Boris out' outside British embassy in Brussels

Another day, another three-minute television interview from the prime minister and down we all go, yet further in to the white-hot centre of the bulls*** universe.

The place where the lies are so many, so superheated, they exist in a permanent magma-like state until, when the pressure becomes too intense, it rushes up to the surface and explodes out of the gob of Boris Johnson, incinerating the basic dignity of anything it touches.

It was Sky News’s turn, again, to hear the prime minister state his laughable case. What they have done to deserve this one cannot know. “The more the EU think that Brexit could be stopped, that Britain could be kept in, by parliament, the less likely we are to give us the deal that we need,” he said.

It is hard to calibrate whether he managed to keep a straight face. It is, after all, a face whose natural state is an entitled smirk, and one that is itself a joke all over the world.

It is not so hard to imagine what other European leaders will make of this piece of political positioning so laughable it would embarrass a toddler.

Here was Britain’s actual prime minister, the figurehead of its parliamentary system, patiently explaining that the only way to stop this rather irritating parliament from doing what it has every possible right to do, was to do as he has done, and kick it out.

Here he was, expecting other statesmen, in other non-basket case countries, to see the UK is now, in his words, serious, because its prime minister has suspended its parliament. Oh Mr Johnson, it is serious. But not in the way you imagine.

There was, mystifyingly, nothing about the need for a new Queen’s speech, to “get on with our exciting domestic agenda”.

That was Wednesday’s lie, which must be a bit awkward, for say, his international development ministers, Grant Shapps, who were both still sticking to it on air on Friday morning, long after Johnson had stopped bothering.

If they think we don’t need a deal, they’ll give us the deal we need. He’s really sticking to this. Lucky for us, of course, none of them can ever hear us over in Brussels. We’ve all known that for years now.

Lucky for us, too, that none of them can see that our economy shrank in the last quarter, and that at the point at which we leave the European Union we will, as an almost racing certainty, be in recession.

And lucky for us also, that when the government’s analysis on how there will be food shortages, medicine shortages, rising food prices and an inevitable return to a hard border in Ireland is splashed all over the front of the newspapers, they can’t see that either.

They can only hear the denials, which also turn out to be lies.

At this stage, Johnson had a dire warning for his House of Commons adversaries. “If we frustrate that mandate, if we fail to leave on 31 October, if that’s what parliamentarians end up doing, it will do lasting damage to people’s trust in politics,” he said.

Oh, Prime Minister. Lasting damage, to people’s trust in politics? You are a walking billboard for it. You are the damage.

The damage that comes from, just to take two recent examples, saying, “I am not attracted to antiquated ideas like proroguing parliament.” The damage from choosing those words with surgical precision, so that people can be conned into believing one thing, but that also leave you free, on a technicality, of the accusation of bare-faced lying when you go ahead and do it anyway, as was always your intent.

Or, when you say, the chances of no-deal Brexit are “a million to one”, long after your Brexit strategy is fully formulated, and one that comes with a risk of no deal that is, by your own admission, 50-50.

Still, he finished with the most grandiose promise of all. If Brexit doesn’t happen, on 31 October, “This political generation won’t be forgiven.”

To which the only answer is, come on. This political generation will never be forgiven. Its crimes are already too grave, its base competencies too staggeringly low.

It is almost endearing to even think of them as a “political generation”. Like the Mark and Michelle era of EastEnders or the third Sugababes line-up.

There is really no analogy out there to do them justice. Even the Swindon Town team of 1993-4 won a few matches.

This generation of politicians will be remembered in much the same way as the victorious Spanish basketball team of the Sydney Paralympics. The ones who won an unlikely gold, but were subsequently stripped of their medals once it was discovered they had all been lying about being disabled in the first place.

That was 19 years ago. It is fair to say none of them have been forgiven quite yet. Johnson’s wait for redemption will be a lot longer than that. He will not live to see the day.

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