What is currently in play with COVID-19 and the collapse of the financial structure and future of the United Kingdom is all a massive shit show, certainly, but could anyone have devised a more humiliating premiership for Boris Johnson than has been the case? His is a fall of Shakespearean proportions, unravelling before the very unseeing eyes of the people who voted him into office just six short months ago.
Johnson won the General Election In December 2019 with a majority of eighty, a political success unparalleled in the modern history of his party, approaching the numbers enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher. Yet this man, in just six months, through a combination of arrogant laziness, some eye-wateringly bad decisions and a chilling merciless world pandemic has lost the chance of ever presiding over the successful and thriving economic first world country force outside of the European Economic Community that he must have dreamed of. Defeating Jeremy Corbyn, an idealist with a groundswell of devoted supporters who would have died for him, a man who promised the world but lacked the support of his own party, Johnson must have felt invincible. However, it was hardly a result to steady the careless and unjustified self-belief that was always going to be his undoing. In April Johnson almost died, a potential victim of the same thoughtless arrogance that got him elected, that ubiquitous handshaking arrogance that the unthinking electorate so senselessly admired and put a cross against.
He could have died!
In some ways, in the perverse world that we currently inhabit, this might have been the event that clawed back some gravitas for his free falling stock, at least for his reputation in posterity. No one freely speaks ill of the dead, and no one would have of Johnson. He would probably have enjoyed an epitaph of the ‘bumbling fool’ who meant well. It would have been an event to put the brakes on the meteoric fall which, alas for him and his country, was resuscitated back into life by the very NHS workers who his party have been strangling the life out of for the last decade.
And it goes on. In the middle of all of this he has decided that now is the right time to bury the bad news that his impossible promise of a post Brexit world with no borders in Ireland was built upon.
Are you getting the Shakespearean elements of this story yet?
At every Parliamentary session Johnson now has to develop and cement his King of the World authority, he is faced by his Cicero, the calm and studied prosecutor, Sir Keir Starmer. This man was, in a glorious former life, the Director of Public Prosecutions. Is there anyone in the known universe more appropriate for Johnson to have had as an adversary? And it gets better. Thanks to the very social distancing that his government introduced, Johnson finds himself regularly alone in a one to one with Starmer, like a defendant facing his prosecutor. The baying support of his chosen cabinet fools, the Rees-Moggs, the Priti Patels, the Raabs, the Goves, the Hancocks and the Trusses, is absent from this hybrid parliament. Their boorish swamping noise has quite literally been silenced. Starmer does not need to raise his voice, to lecture Johnson with the emotional wailing of a Kinnock, the clipped superciliousness of a Blair, or the shouting certainty of Corbyn. He merely needs to document and outline the contradictions and poor choices of Johnson’s government that have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the privatised care homes that his party forced into being. It is a heady denouncement of a foolhardy authority.
Johnson would do well to recall the fate of his intellectual superior, Julius Caesar, and now badly needs a soothsayer to warn him off his ill-judged path or he will be savaged on the Avenue of the Argentinians by his Brutus. This, of course, is the role which Michael Gove, lurking in the shadows, was born to play.