Saturday, July 16, 2016

Boris Johnson begins to realise that he has gone too far

A couple of days after the referendum Boris Johnson wrote a column for the Sunday Telegraph saying we could all still have nice things despite the result:
I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU. 
British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down.
The result was that Johnson's new-found supporters were outraged and his lieutenant and strategist Michael Gove deserted him. As a result, he dropped out of the Conservative leadership contest.

On Friday he made a speech at the French Embassy in London and called for "a political, cultural, psychological, and economic union" with France. He was booed by some members of his audience.

Tonight comes news that a dinner for European Union foreign ministers has been cancelled. This, suggests The Sun, is in part because Johnson's European counterparts have no particular wish to break bread with him.

All this must hurt Johnson. He is no Little Englander: he was born in New York to a father who made his living by working in international organisations. Some sources claim he is still a US citizen.

But, by gambling he could court the Leavers, whose views he must surely despise, lose the referendum and gain in the long run, he has spoilt all this for himself and for the nation.

I am reminded of a passage in Auberon Waugh's* first novel The Foxglove Saga. I did read it years ago, but this extract comes from William Cook's anthology of the younger Waugh's writings Kiss Me Chudleigh. Cook suggests it may be a picture of Auberon himself as a boy:
Stoat began to realise that he had gone too far. It had happened several times in his career before, when, without warning, his entire world had seemed to collapse about his ears, leaving him just a shade more lonely, and spiteful, and not a jot wiser than before. 
When his first Nanny, called Freda, to whom he was passionately attached, had suddenly been teased too much about her boyfriends, and had turned and thrashed him savagely, and had given her notice the same evening; when his spaniel puppy, Rollo, had been pushed once too often into the goldfish pond, and had caught a cold and died, and his father had sworn that he would never have another dog; when, at his first prep school, a game of Cops and Robbers had got out of hand, and a boy had nearly lost a finger, and Stoat had been asked to leave.
Like Stoat, Boris Johnson has begun to realise that he had gone too far.

* A word on Auberon Waugh. When I am seeking inspiration for my own comic writing, it is to him and his courage and absurdity that I turn.

Kiss Me Chudleigh is a good representation of his work, except that there is too much of Waugh's fulminations against the working class. Granted his politics are not my politics, but when he wrote like this (and he did frequently) he was not so much hammering at the same theme as hammering away at the same note. And it was not that funny to begin with.

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