Boris. Only one politician in the land is universally known by his first name. “Boris Johnson” is unnecessary. He is now the center of a political storm, since he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column last week that burka-wearers looked like letter-boxes and bank robbers. They do, actually, but this truthful observation did not save Boris from a deluge of condemnation. It was led—well, followed—by the Prime Minister, who found his remarks offensive. “It is not language I would use.” Nobody would use Theresa May's language, which has already passed through so many hands as to lose all sense of identity. The hue and cry included racism and Islamophobia, the favorites of those zealots whose claimed right to be offended is ever on parade. Boris himself made no answer, having taken himself off to a rented villa in Italy with his family.
What on earth is going on? British politics is quite simple and easily understood. Everyone in Government from Theresa May down to the humblest bag-carrier for a minister has a job. They like their job and each one is paid, some very well. At least one job in government has an ample clothes allowance. To this demi-paradise comes a threat: Boris! He is the spearhead of the movement that can overthrow the administration, bringing with it grief and pain to all its members (unless they have certified support for the Resistance). The cry goes up: We loathe Boris! Stop him!
That is impossible. Boris has a weekly column, for which he is paid £275,000 a year. He can write what he likes. It is a bully pulpit. In his Aug. 12 column, he targets the national disgrace of the housing market, which has been owned by the developers and the Treasury with the result that property values are insanely high. He can keep up a running fire against the government, changing the target at will. He is sometimes compared, not least by himself, with Churchill; he is really much more akin to De Gaulle whose real struggle was with the Petainists. Boris now looms over the political scene, and threatens regime change.
[Image via EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Boris Johnson) [CC BY 2.0]]
Ralph Berry writes from England.