Boris Johnson ‘is sorry’ for comparing Ukraine to Brexit, apparently – but not enough to actually apologise

Clearing up the prime minister’s mess is not a job that gets any easier by volume. This sort of thing piles up

<p>If you’re degenerate enough to be thrilled that a war has come along to save you, you are clearly beyond salvation</p>

If you’re degenerate enough to be thrilled that a war has come along to save you, you are clearly beyond salvation

There was a short hiatus, after the invasion of Ukraine, when the Tory party was too busy hardly believing its own luck to fully concentrate on its preferred pastime of making a complete, self-indulgent disgrace of itself – so in some ways it’s a relief to see things getting back to normal.

Probably, we shall never know which Tory MP it was that told The Guardian that the Ukraine war meant that “the mood is now really good in the party”, because a comment this stomach-churningly rancid can only realistically be whittled down to a shortlist of between two and three hundred.

And in any case, it was superseded only a few hours later by Boris Johnson’s weekend speech to the party’s spring conference, in which he very deliberately chose to compare the thousands of people fighting and dying in Ukraine, to the British vote for Brexit.

What a buzzkill, eh? Just when you think a nice little war has come along and dug you out of a hole, got you off the hook for breaking your own laws, a still unknown number of times over, in 10 Downing Street, and then publicly lying about it just as many times again, along comes Boris Johnson to remind you that, actually, he’s still Boris Johnson, so the danger can never truly pass.

It’s scarcely worth the keystrokes to examine the full depths of execrability to which the prime minister has now sunk, not least as he’s been there so many times before. A couple of points will surely suffice, one of which would be the very deliberate exploitation of the 2016 refugee crisis, in which desperate people were also fleeing Russian bombs, to get the Brexit vote over the line.

The other would be that picture that Boris Johnson has certainly seen, in Zelensky and his inner circle, in the war bunker in Kyiv, surrounded by EU flags, signing an agreement to join. Johnson knows all this. He also knows exactly what he’s doing.

According to The Times, Johnson “regrets” the remarks. They even claim he is “sorry”. Though he is, at time of typing, not sorry enough to have actually apologised for them. Should he do so, it would be a first.

This sort of filth has been going on for so long now, the outrage is scarcely worth quantifying. Most Conservatives stopped a very long time ago trying to defend the indefensible, deciding in the end that there must be a level below which their own basic dignity will not descend.

So it is always interesting to see which Tories haven’t bottomed out yet, and there at the very bottom of the barrel you are always highly likely to find chief secretary to the treasury, Simon Clarke.

“The prime minister was making a perfectly fair point,” he told ITV News. “When people have the choice in their life, they want to uphold freedom of decision making.”

Which is, you know, all very well, apart from the point that it bears precisely zero relation to what the prime minister actually said, which was the following: “I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom, every time.

“When the British people voted for Brexit … it’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”

The ITV news clip isn’t hard to find online. I had to watch it several times before working out the precise source of my own sense of deja vu. Can it really be 18 years since Conan O’Brien sent a dog puppet into the US presidential election “spin room”? Clarke may like to seek out the clip, not least the lines, “Did it hurt when they removed your sense of shame?”

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Or alternatively, “If George Bush took a dump on stage, you’d still spin it wouldn’t you? You’d say, ‘The president looked really relaxed tonight’.”

Clearing up the prime minister’s mess is not a job that gets any easier by volume. This sort of thing piles up, and even the mountain that recently moved to conceal it doesn’t appear to be big enough.

If you’re straightforwardly degenerate enough to be thrilled that a war has come along to save you, you are clearly beyond salvation. But you may still be capable of considering that you’ve not been saved. Boris Johnson is still Boris Johnson, he always will be, and the public has worked him out.

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