Scome back and enjoy the trip. Here was Boris Johnson in his comfort zone. A lecture room at the Museum of Science where he could satisfy his fantasy as the Bertie Booster of British politics by giving his standard, upbeat, clipped and maintained speech after dinner, no matter that it was actually shortly after breakfast, to an invited audience of some. of the world’s richest men and women at a Global Investment Summit.
This was Boris at his most optimistic moment. There is no need to mention the uncomfortable truths of food shortages and truck drivers. Covid infection rates rising at an alarming rate could also be safely ignored. Those were just current irritants. The story he wanted to tell was of a future in which Britain would lead the world to the promised land of net zero by 2050. A speech that was light on detail but peppered with recycled jokes. Not that Boris laughed a lot. Maybe billionaires don’t have the same sense of humor as the rest of us. Or maybe they had heard all of them before in Davos.
Dominic Cummings has described the prime minister as a runaway shopping cart spinning back and forth through the aisles, and Johnson’s 15-minute cameo had all the makings of someone who plays Supermarket Sweep. Boris began by remembering all the inventions that failed before attributing the success of the Covid vaccine to free market capitalism. Some will recall that government funding and the NHS also played a role. He then moved on to a passage where Brexit was creating new investment opportunities, which will have surprised many of the business leaders who have moved out of the UK, and invited everyone to join Britain in the green revolution.
“Green is good,” he said, channeling his inner Wall Street, as he urged the Gordon Gekkos in the room to seize opportunities within the UK created by the need for a technological revolution. We were Peppa Pig’s country teaching Americans the correct way to say tomato, gasoline, and mother. We were the country of Adele, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran. And the public was nothing more than gullible Trading Places charlatans who could be tricked into buying in Britain. Thank you and good night. Or rather, good morning.
Just as the audience was trying to find out if she had been charmed or insulted, Boris returned to the stage with Bill Gates to be interviewed by Allegra Stratton. This was a collector’s item, as it was almost the first sighting of Stratton since she was appointed the prime minister’s spokesperson on the condition that she never said anything or was seen in public. Stratton has now been reassigned as a spokesperson for Cop26, but she was first introduced as a “journalist” and immediately launched into the killer question.
“I think you have an announcement to make,” he said. “Yes,” Johnson responded enthusiastically. He had signed an agreement with Breakthrough Energy, a Bill Gates company, worth 400 million pounds (half of the UK government and the founder of Microsoft) to develop solutions to the really sensitive problems of global warming, such as fuel. aircraft green and green cement. that everyone else was avoiding as they were unlikely to make a profit any time soon.
Gates interrupted. Actually, the deal was worth twice what Boris had said. Johnson looked nervous. If he had signed up to double the amount, he could be in deep shit with Rishi. Most would have bet that Boris was wrong in the figures, but his spokesman later assured everyone that the government limit was 200 million pounds. It turns out that even a stopped clock can be right twice a day. In any case, it was all loose change for Gates. She had probably spent more on her daughter’s wedding than on the new green deal with the UK.
Stratton tried to redirect the conversation by saying that the prime minister had always cared passionately about the climate crisis. When he’d made comments, like wind farms couldn’t peel off rice pudding, he was just laughing. Deep down he had always been a believer. Except the only thing he really believed in was his own narcissism. His own exceptionalism. The normal rules of public participation did not apply to him.
The longer the conversation went on, the more Boris began to improvise. As if he were a public entertainer forced to make up for the fact that Gates was a personality free zone that any audience could be trusted to sleep on. So Johnson said that Cop26 was going to be a huge success because everyone would be there, except possibly the leaders of China and Russia, two of the world’s biggest polluters, without whose cooperation global action on the climate crisis is simply pissing on it. wind. .
Boris also went on to say that huge returns could be made by investing in long-term solutions to the climate emergency. Gates looked at Johnson in amazement. He hadn’t realized he’d just signed a deal with a serial lunatic. Hadn’t he already said that the point about these speculative technologies was that some would fail and that there might be no windfall? Or a return? Certainly not in the foreseeable future.
Just to make sure everyone got the point, Gates repeated his warning. Boris ignored him. He was in his bubble. He was the center of attention. People with access to $ 24 billion were his captive audience. And it was more fun than all of them. That is what really counts. Everything was fine in the world.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism