Out of the jag, a gentle smirk. Mission accomplished. Broken Britain, gone to meet its breaker.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is the joke and we are now the punchline.
These days have their familiar rituals. The helicopters whir overhead, the cars drive up and down the short red roads to the palace, the moment is made flesh by the emergence of that awkward photograph with the Queen.
These are the things that remain the same when everything changes, but never has it changed so utterly. This is a day of the like the country has never seen before.
A personal and political liar has lied his way to the very top, and now we must all lie for him.
When the news broke yesterday, I happened to be sitting near a woman in a public place, who was reading on her phone about her new prime minister, specifically, a boxed out list of his failed marriages, affairs and unconfirmed numbers of secret children. Her son of about seven years of age asked her what it was about and she had to make something up. Everyday people, going about their everyday lives, forced to lie to their kids to cover up for the record-breaking wasteman, the Etonian Mick Philpott, that is their new prime minister.
With her final act in public office, Theresa May had to lie for him too. There she was, on the steps of Downing Street, telling Johnson that, “Your successes will be the country’s successes.” Those “successes” will either be the renegotiation of a deal she knows cannot be renegotiated, or a no-deal Brexit that she herself ruled out months ago, because she knows with complete certainty it would be an utter disaster.
She spoke of Brexit as “a national renewal that can move us beyond the current impasse into the bright future the British people deserve”. She’s been prime minister for three long years in which every week has left the country £600m poorer than if Brexit, which she campaigned against and did not vote for, had not happened. There is no bright future. There are only lies.
And there, right on cue, with his big blonde mane, there was the Liar King. “The buck stops here,” he said outside No 10, jabbing his finger forward, but he wasted no time at all in preparing the ground for the task ahead – which is to shift the blame for his inevitable failure on to absolutely anyone who might be conned into taking it.
The buck stops here, but, if no-deal Brexit happens it will be because “Brussels refuses to negotiate any further”.
The last three years of misery that he and his merry band of liars inflicted on the nation are already someone else’s fault.
“The pessimists at home and abroad ... the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters,” all these people are wrong, even though they’ve been right about everything so far.
“The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts,” he said. It is tedious to have to repeat the people who bet against Britain are the hedge fund managers that shorted the pound in June 2016, shorted the construction companies, shorted all the things that plummet every time a country tanks. They bet against Britain, the Liar King delivered them billions, and they have delivered him what he wanted. The little people, naturally, pick up the tab.
What do we say to describe the country in which we now live? These are realities with which we are entirely unfamiliar. What do we say, for example, about Dominic Cummings, the Vote Leave chief who is now going to run Downing Street, becoming effectively, the nation’s CEO? Do we say that a racist is running the country? Cummings ran the Vote Leave campaign, and was delighted to produce posters that showed shadowy footprints sneaking into Britain’s back door, combined with a straight-up, 100 per cent pure lie: “Turkey is joining the EU.”
You simply do not get to exploit the racism of other people for your own political ends, and somehow rise above the idea that you, yourself are a racist. Cummings may have a “large brain”, as everybody so loves to say, but he is every inch the moral equivalent of Nigel Farage, of Nick Griffin, of Tommy Robinson or any other abysmal public figure who deals in the politics of racism and Islamophobia. A dawn has broken of a kind that Britain has never seen before.
As protesters howled at the gates, the man of this dismal hour howled at the nation. The list of things he’s going to do, social care reform, the “levelling up” of per-pupil spending in schools, has already been shown to be meaningless garbage.
Among his shouted list of supposed big announcements, was news that we are to, “get going now on our own satellite positioning technology”. The UK has already made a huge financial and intellectual contribution to the EU’s satellite positioning system, Galileo, which we have walked out on because we chose to smash up our country in the service of our new prime minister’s political ambitions. So now we will build our own (we won’t). Few things serve as a better illustration of the level to which we have allowed ourselves to be lowered.
There was, in the street outside Downing Street, the traditional paean to our great country. A country, “Whose brand, and political personality, whose diplomacy is loved and admired throughout the world.”
Is it worth repeating that our “diplomacy” has just been drummed out of America because Johnson was too cowardly to speak up for it? And his own personal diplomacy has left a British woman locked up in Iran?
There is an old German phrase, the one who has spoiled the soup must eat it. At least Johnson’s hand is now on the spoon. Over the long, dreadful months ahead, there will be absolutely no one whom Johnson does not expect to eat it for him. It is the Johnson way.
It will be everybody else’s job not to swallow any of it.
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