Is there any political depravity to which Boris Johnson will not sink? Well, that’s a bloody stupid question as the the answer is clearly no. His problem, although he doesn’t see it as such, is that he will say anything and do anything to get himself out of a jam. The encounter at a hospital a couple of weeks ago with the father of a sick child (yes, I know he was a Labour activist, but a sick child is still a sick child) is a gleaming beacon of dishonesty when he said that there were no press there in the presence of a goat fuck which would have made any Afghanistan tribal leader cream in his dish dash.
The trouble with Johnson is that he is multi dimensional. There is the witty Boris, the One Nation Boris, the hardline Brexiteer Boris, the crumpled Boris, the lazy Boris, the serial shagger Boris, the populist Boris. It is endless. Like putting two mirrors together and seeing yourself in infinity, but where each image is totally different. The multiple worlds of Boris exist simultaneously except he doesn’t realise it as it as always been thus. Think of Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets, where he plays every part of the family he kills off to inherit the title. At the end he is reprieved and walks to freedom from the condemned cell only to realise that he has left the journal where he has set out in meticulous detail in his cell. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
When Eddie Mair put to him that he was really a nasty piece of work, there was a shrug. He honestly and genuinely believes that he isn’t.
But the Number 10 operation has gone rogue. It is out of control. But Johnson doesn’t care because he can send out multiple contradictory messages to attempt to appease all sides. Simultaneously.
The Friday messages, the text briefings, the impromptu sackings and the nihilist horror that is Cummings will end soon. Firstly, for practical reasons. He is due to have a serious stomach operation in November. Secondly, politics. The Cabinet has had enough of him. One senior minister told me last week that Cummings and his cronies don’t give a damn if they wreck the Conservative party. It’s the language more than anything else. Daring the Queen to sack the PM. Threatening to squat in Number 10 until the police arrive. Demonising Angela Merkel.Threatening to break the law by not asking for an extension if there is no deal. Personally attacking the Taoiseach and accusing him of bad faith. It saddens me to say this but it is straight from the 1930s handbook. You manufacture an enemy, demonise them and make your people feel that they are the good guys. And the nearest Johnson has come to distance himself was to say that if you want to know what he thinks, ‘listen to me’. The trouble is that he doesn’t know what he thinks.
So Corbyn and Johnson have a lot in common. They have found the magic money tree. They are authoritarian. They allow their thugs to threaten and abuse. And then pretend to distance themselves from them.
The popular talk is that we are gearing up for an election with The People Versus Parliament being the Johnson platform. Again, resonances from the 1930s handbook. A very, very dangerous road to take. And polls show that a victory is not in the bag for anybody. Polls show that the public don’t trust either of the main party leaders. And how would an election break the impasse of Brexit? It won’t. Elections are about more than one single issue.
I have always been against a second referendum, but things have changed so radically, information is clearer and options more crystallised than they were in 2016. It really is time for the people to be put back in control.
So what of Johnson? Will he break the law? Despite the bravado he won’t. And for those who are briefing that clever lawyers can pick holes in the Benn Act grow up. The law was settled way back in 1968. It is unlawful for a government to circumvent or flout a law. Will there be a government of national unity? Hardly, as the country isn’t remotely united.
So what will Johnson do? Not even he knows. He will hope that something turns up. But the blame game has already started. The language will become more extreme and threats of death on the streets will reach fever pitch. The forces of darkness hang like a gothic gloom over our once inclusive and tolerant land.
So what of Northern Ireland? A border of any sort which involves physical checks anywhere will lead to violence. The Chief Constable has warned us. And the militants are beginning re arm. The Belfast agreement was facilitated by many factors but probably the most potent was in 1993 when there was a customs union throughout the Island of Ireland. The border had effectively disappeared. That’s when the peace process began. I was there.
The square that has to be circled is how can the EU protect the integrity of the single market whilst preventing a border between North and South? The negotiated answer was the back stop. God help us all as Johnson and his mob of ideologues don’t understand.
Oh, and if you One Nation Tories believe Johnson when he looked you in the eye and promised that the Tories would not stand on a No Deal Brexit manifesto you are sad deluded creatures. Of course he will. The rowing back has started already.