Are we meant to be surprised Boris Johnson doesn’t care about the world’s starving children?

His decision to scrap the Department for International Development, in the name of feeding ‘even more’ African children, unfortunately came on the same day he had to be told to start feeding the British ones too

Boris Johnson announces disbanding of DFID as Starmer accuses him of 'distractions'

Not quite a U-turn, more of a Cruyff turn, except that Boris Johnson’s specific role is that of the bloke left staggering backwards and landing flat on his arse in front of a watching world.

Indeed, as we reach for the analogies for Johnson’s inevitable decision to spin 180 degrees on the Marcus Rashford campaign for free school meals, it is hard to look beyond the incident in which York City’s Chris Brass infamously attempted a defensive overhead clearance but instead kicked the ball into his own face with such force that it not only rebounded into his own net but also broke his own nose.

For most prime ministers, having to rely on an England centre forward to provide the link up play between you and basic human compassion would be the most embarrassing thing to happen to you on any given day.

But within an hour of the Rashford incident, Boris Johnson had been disowned by 60 per cent of the living previous holders of his office for a separate, entirely unrelated incident.

Well, we say entirely unrelated. His decision to shutter the Department for International Development, and thus stop wasting government time and money on such irrelevant areas as the world’s poorest people, has been a predictable siren call for the nation’s most tedious voices, all of whom have thankfully recovered from their racist fun day out in Westminster at the weekend.

Whatever Johnson’s protestations, it a clear victory for the “charity begins at home” lobby. You know the kind. Why are we sending billions to Africa when we’ve got problems of our own to worry about.

It is not clear whether, when Boris Johnson’s lips move, they do so with any expectation that the vibrations that exit them should be considered to bear any relation to the truth. But nevertheless, for the last of the true believers, perhaps it is helpful that, as Boris Johnson stands at the despatch box and says how, actually, this means we will be able to “put poverty at the centre of our foreign policy”, it has not yet been an hour since he’s needed Marcus Rashford’s help to find a place for poverty even at the distant outer reaches of his domestic policy, never mind foreign.

If we’re meant to believe that this is all about feeding *even more* starving African children, well, it’s unfortunate that it came on the day he had to be told to start feeding the British ones too.

There were other flavours and textures of bulls**t to savour too. We would learn how the UK abroad has historically been “less than the sum of its parts”. This was Johnson, apparently, making up for past errors – the erstwhile foreign secretary who liked to make jokes about how the EU was like Nazi Germany almost as much as he liked to make jokes about dead bodies on beaches in Libya. And who, lest we forget, didn’t get round to attending the national security meeting about a British civilian being murdered in a chemical attack by the Russian state, because he was too busy in a private photo shoot with his own resignation letter.

There is, in short, no British politician, at least in the last three hundred years, who has done more to degrade his office and humiliate his country.

It is rarely less than entirely impossible to take Boris Johnson’s words at face value, but especially when within an hour Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron had all taken the trouble to denounce them.

And if you really don’t know who to believe, there is some prima facie evidence to be found out there. Priti Patel was briefly responsible for the International Development budget, before she decided to have secret meetings with the Israeli prime minister while on a family holiday and was sacked for being a danger to national security (whatever happened to her).

Among her genius ideas for more “strategic” use of British cash was to spend it on upgrading prisons in Jamaica so as to stop all the human rights lawyers getting in the way when we tried to repatriate prisoners there.

You can expect more of this in the months and years ahead. Of course, Britain’s standing in the world will be diminished yet further, but does anyone care at this point? At least soon we will have moved from an actual embarrassment to a mere irrelevance, and we can all stop worrying quite so much.

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