Piers Morgan vs Rylan Clark-Neal: the runners and riders to be Boris Johnson’s personal spokesperson

A man who simply cannot resist describing his bike as his ‘velocipede’ is quite right to be bringing in external expertise. If only communication wasn’t the only thing the PM was supposed to be good at

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 29 July 2020 19:20
Boris Johnson warns of second wave of coronavirus from Europe

You would struggle to find anyone even within the Conservative Party with much of a clue what Boris Johnson is meant to be good at beyond being a “good communicator”. So it must be surprising for the party to find on its own website a £100,000-a-year job ad to be Boris Johnson’s official “communicator”.

According to the advertisement, it will be the lucky candidate’s job to “communicate with the nation on behalf of the prime minister”. To take on, in other words, the very last bit of the job that hasn’t already been delegated elsewhere.

In fairness to the PM, it does state that the role will also involve “communicating complex issues clearly and concisely to the public”, so it’s not merely that he can’t be bothered to do it himself – it’s actively beyond him. If communicating things clearly and concisely is required, a man who simply cannot resist describing his bike as his “velocipede” is quite right to be bringing in external expertise.

The well-established buy-in price for a job inside 10 Downing Street these days is to be either stupid enough to think Brexit is definitely a good idea or craven enough to just go along with it for the sake of your own career. And while Johnson might struggle to find many “experienced broadcasters” who meet the first criterion, the second is highly unlikely to be a problem. So here a few of the runners and riders.

Darren Grimes – Not the most experienced broadcaster on the list, but if he makes a mistake he is willing to learn. Senior cabinet ministers are said to have warned the prime minister that Grimes considers Boris Johnson to be one of his “heroes”, and he accidentally cost his last “hero”, historian David Starkey, all of his honorary and professional employment after he invited him on his podcast to say something racist.

David Starkey – Understood to be actively seeking “new challenges”. Johnson said to be impressed by the number of racist things he has said in the past that were then taken out of context.

Piers Morgan – The gun law reform-campaigning, Trump-venerating, latter-day darling of the liberal left is said to be looking for a fresh set of opinions and relishes the attention the role will bring. Initial negotiations have struggled to progress, after cabinet ministers were unsure whether or not they were meant to be boycotting the meetings to which they were invited to discuss it.

Donald Trump – Could well be looking for new opportunities shortly, and has all the skills required. Has already held an on-camera audition for the role, which involved looking straight down the barrel of the lens and telling bare-faced lies such as “Turkey is joining the EU.” Frontrunner.

Rylan Clark-Neal – Still waiting to hear back from Songs of Praise and the Antiques Roadshow, but if they come back with a no, he’s up for it.

Michael Fish – Still beloved by the nation for his soothing, avuncular manner and calm reassurances that everything’s going to be alright, it is hoped the former weatherman and hurricane denialist can be installed before the inevitable coronavirus second wave.

Dominic Cummings – Prefers a quiet life behind the scenes, and doesn’t want to be part of the story himself – as his in no way performative clothing and daily obnoxious quotes to TV news crews testify. But having so clearly and concisely explained how he only put his son in the car and drove his Land Rover on a 60-mile round trip to test his eyesight, No 10 sources say he has reluctantly concluded he may, in fact, be the best man for the job himself.

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