You don’t have to Google Boris Johnson today. Just search for Boris and the results will pop up like Whack-A-Moles at a funfair.
Boris Johnson says UK is better off outside …
Boris Johnson to campaign for Brexit in EU referendum …
Boris Johnson backs EU exit: London mayor confirms …
And so on and so forth. You only need to Google his first name because Boris has something Call-Me-Dave never did: charisma. Boris is not only clever and erudite, but also witty, engaging, often self-deprecating and very, very funny. He’s the sort of chap you’d want to be with on a night out, no matter what your political complexion, because he is hilarious, and that’s a very dangerous thing in a politician if he happens to be on the opposite side from you.
He might be wrong, but he’ll make them laugh and as everyone knows, successful seduction is 99% laughter.
Oddly, not only are Boris and Call-Me-Dave both posh public schoolboys, but also contemporaries and members of Oxford’s ludicrous Bullingdon Club. And yet, looking at this picture from 1987, you notice two things about them. While Call-Me-Dave isn’t reacting well to his rejection letter from Wham! Boris is already mentally perfecting his Roy Batty for Blade Runner 2. Dave might have seen a pig’s head from an angle not normally associated with shoulder of pork, but Boris has seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
Call-Me-Dave must be wishing today that he’d given Boris the cold shoulder all those years ago as his friend stepped forward, following a wrenching struggle with his own heartache and put the good of the country before his own personal ambition. Boris, in his inimitable, hand-on-breast bumbling way explained to the assembled journos that of course he never wanted to go against Dave, that Dave had done such a wonderful job in the short time available to him, but that really, Dave’s negotiations with the EU didn’t amount to a bottle of smoke.
Boris is an honourable man, though naturally he glided gently over the fact that British objections to membership of the EU amounted to nothing more than a bottle of smoke in the first place, so it was hardly a surprise that Call-Me-Dave returned with a receptacle containing some products of combustion and little else.
However, Boris is an honourable man and never mind the fact that if he defeats Call-Me-Dave in this, he’ll be well positioned to go for the leadership of the Tory party and therefore well-positioned to become Prime Minister.
Perish the thought, for Boris is an honourable man. It never for a single second crossed Boris’s mind and shame on me for even hinting at it, however obliquely. Just like Jim Hacker before him, all Boris wants to do is serve the common people, the fervent wish of all ex-Etonians since time began.
Is there any substance to the Outers’ case, apart from some Little England xenophobia? On the face of it, the answer has to be No. Challenged recently to produce figures on the relative costs of immigrants, the UK government had to concede that they had no statistics, which seemed rather odd, considering that their Prime Minister was in Brussels ostensibly negotiating on that very issue. Interestingly, though, there was no mention of the two million British living in other EU countries and no thought given to the consequences for them in the event of a British exit. And that would include the million British emigrants in Spain, as well as the 330 thousand each in France and Ireland. As to the nett cost to the UK of membership, the outlay up front is one pound in every 200 expended by the exchequer, in return for unlimited access to the biggest trading bloc in the world.
Child benefit annoyed everyone when it came in. We all agreed that it made no sense to be paying full benefit to children living in low-wage economies, and on that issue, David Cameron was pushing an unlocked gate, but at the same time he came back with pretty much everything he wanted, even if his demands were always going to be insubstantial, since the opposition to membership has nothing going for it apart from suspicion of foreigners.
Call-Me-Dave has backed himself into a corner on Brexit simply by pandering to the UKIP tendency in the first place. He isn’t a fool and he must have realised that when he lay down with these dogs, he’d get up with their fleas. What’s more, he probably didn’t need them to get elected but now here he is, having returned from Brussels with a deal that everyone agrees has no substance and he doesn’t know what to do. Supporters of EU membership always thought it had no substance because the original objections were vague, nebulous and based on xenophobia, while opponents think he didn’t come back with enough.
Dave can’t win. Call-Me-Dave has been found out in the public forum and now here comes Boris the scholar of ancient Greek and Latin, pulling a knife from beneath his toga and plunging it into the breast of his fellow Bullingdonian.
But Boris is an honourable man.