Whatever Happened to Boris Johnson?
Why he has to get his act together fast.
It’s the question everyone is asking, but no one seems to have a definitive answer.
From my personal experiences with Boris what I can say with certainty is that something is not adding up. The man that led London through its most successful period in recent history as its Mayor, and the effervescent beast that rammed Brexit over the line has gone.
The Boris we are looking at now reminds me of the Melania body double. Somewhat similar if you squint a bit, but not quite all there. Less Bo-Jo. More So-So.
There are a few theories behind the sad demise of the blond bombshell. Some are patently absurd. Others more probable, knowing him as I do. But one thing is for sure. If he doesn’t get his act together, and fast, those allies he relied on to get him into power, will be the same forcing him from it. The vultures are in the trees, watching, waiting.
1) Boris caught Corona and nearly died.
I don’t buy the near death stuff. A bit of hyperbole helps communicate messages to the masses, and the words ’Intensive Care’ tend to do that. But Bo-Jo was never on a ventilator.
Clearly, he got it bad - Boris was an overworked, morbidly obese man, who caught corona and isolated himself with it to the point of being very ill indeed. His carefully coached but breathless press briefing on his return to Number Ten belied the toll corona took on his lungs and undoubtedly his general health.
However, lest we should get carried away with the sympathy, we should remind ourselves that our greatest leaders fought their way through polio, paralysis, cancers and canker to lead their country. And at no point seemed defined by their condition. I do not believe So-So really been felled by a massive dose of the flu?
2) Boris had a baby.
Boris has six or seven other children that are known of (the real number is still a mystery) so I am not certain one more would be responsible for the mediocre version of Boris we now see.
Having lived through the process of exiting a baby-sized item through a ping pong ball-sized space three times, I am reminded that men don’t actually HAVE a baby, women do. And the French Minister, Rachida Dati was back at work looking chic in heels five days after giving birth.
The idea that Boris was impacted by the birth of a baby is faux-leniency that women in the public eye are never afforded.
3) Boris isn’t strong enough to lead.
You may have been concerned I had been giving Bo-Jo a hard time up until this point. But if you were in the UK in October 2019 you would understand why some of us are not so quick to dismiss him altogether.
In that perilous month, the British people were on a cliff edge about to watch Brexit fall. Parliament was stuffed full of Remainers looking to overturn the will of the people, political momentum was with the left, Corbyn was resurgent and another vote on Brexit was looking increasingly likely. The courts, leftist NGOs, media and other shills could smell the blood and concentrated their efforts for the kill.
Boris tried to call an election three times and was prevented by the treacherous Parliament. He even shut the place down, twice, ‘proroguing it’ to thwart the ability of Remain politicians to prevent a no deal Brexit. These were desperate times, easily forgotten.
Boris said he was the man to ‘Get Brexit Done”, and risked everything to achieve it - his opportunity for time in power, his own pride, and his political future. Even his own family members abandoned him.
And yet, on the 12 December, against all the odds, Boris Johnson won. He delivered a massive Conservative majority, cleared the Parliament of traitorous MPs and appeared to have silenced Remain for good.
This was Vintage Boris. Churchillian Boris. Bojo with his Mojo.
Do not tell me BoJo isn’t strong enough to lead.
4) Great times make great leaders. This isn’t the time for Boris.
This is the most plausible of all the explanations.
Brexit was rooted in the essence of Boris. Brexit was all things Red, White and Blue, the cause dialed into the patriotism that hides in the heart of this country, voting for Boris and his Brexit was like waving the Union flag summoning up the spirit of the Blitz and the Longest Hour. Even in Labour heartlands where those whose ‘father would turn in his grave if he knew I voted Conservative’ voted Boris because it was a vote for the will of the people.
Things have changed. Corona virus and ‘the Science’ which Boris was determined we should follow is the opposite of Bo-Jo. It is sterile and cautious. It is white coats and laboratory modeling. It is rational not emotional, bland not colourful, a thing of death and doom-mongering, not life and bombast.
Corona is Bo-Jo’s Achilles heel. Not because he caught it and it knackered his lungs. But because it is everything he is not. It neutralized his ability to lead through sheer force of personality and immunized his joie de vie. It castrated his sense of humour and curtailed his linguistic aplomb.
His intellect allows him to use language to off-piste ski. But no match for the avalanche of Corona.
Rules, order, discipline, lockdown, shutdown, stop, prevent, sterilize. All words foreign to this one-man befuddlement of wonder.
Boris lacks confidence in himself on Planet Corona. And it shows.
5) Those that helped him to power have fallen away
Right on hand to undermine that confidence still further are the press. The newspapers who backed the man so resolutely when they wanted Corbyn out and Brexit in, are less than impressed by the chaotic state of the country as it stands. We are facing the sort of catastrophic economic collapse as yet unseen in our lifetimes. We will surpass 20% unemployment, GDP may fall by as much as 35%, and theatres, restaurants, councils and public services be bankrupted into oblivion.
Newspapers who backed Boris into power against Corbyn, now have their eyes on new routes to power. My old home, MailOnline - turned long ago. The Daily Mail long wanted Michael Gove as PM, and see the Chancellor Rishi Sunak as a brighter spark.
Murdoch and his henchmen are looking for a new winner to back, distancing themselves from Boris over here, and Trump over there as fast as their little trotters will carry them.
This country will need a fall guy for the unprecedented failures waiting for our economy when furlough stops and reality bites. The media are lining up ready to throw Boris to the wolves to save their skins and newspaper circulation.
Perhaps the question is not what happened to Boris, but how did this happen to Boris. Boris was brilliant for Brexit. But Corona, well Corona just about finished him off.
* * *
Photo credit: Estonian Presidency at Wikimedia Commons.