Saturday, November 27

Boris Johnson drags the Tories more and more into a bath of squalor | John crace


IIf it were that simple. At BorisWorld, all Boris Johnson has to do is show up to spread the stardust of mindless optimism and things fall into place. It worked for Brexit and it worked for his 2019 election campaign. Bertie Booster ruled that he was fine. But climate change is a pretty tough bone to break. Other countries are not as susceptible to its charms and the Cop26 summit in Glasgow runs the risk of ending in a disappointment.

Everything Johnson hoped to accomplish by showing up at Cop26 for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon was anyone’s guess. Still, at least he traveled by train this time. Maybe she just couldn’t accept her helplessness and that her presence was a total waste of time. That head-banging talk wouldn’t be enough after all. Whatever it was, there was none of Bertie Booster’s punching in the 25-minute press conference he gave shortly before returning to London.

This was the closest you’ll get to Johnson admitting defeat. He went through the motions of saying “1.5 was still alive”, but his body language suggested otherwise. His shoulders were hunched and his opening speech was delivered with little enthusiasm.

We were in the hard yards, he said. Caught in a rolling maul in the last furlong. Our children and grandchildren would not forgive us if we did not reach an agreement. And right now you would settle for one that you could sell as significant even if it was indeed worthless. Just to save face. What was needed was more ambition and implementation. It was not clear who expected to provide them. “When are the leaders going to lead?” I ask. It’s a question that some of us have been asking ourselves for a while now.

There were some token questions about the conference, but most of the media seemed to have made the decision that Cop26 was not going to be the game changer the government had tried to build before it started. Rather, they used the time to encourage the prime minister to break his omertà on the sleaze of the conservatives. For the last week or so, Bertie Booster has been strangely quiet.

It soon became clear why. Because Johnson was about to rewrite history to his liking. Even for such a consummate liar, this was something extraordinary. A deception on the grandest of scales. A self-deception on the most vulgar of scales. Here was Johnson, a man devoid of honesty and devoid of self-esteem, doing his best to distance himself from the crime scene. This is your special talent. Because he doesn’t always betray his family, friends and colleagues. He also always betrays himself. Self-loathing must be intense.

Boris began by saying that any MP found to have broken the rules should be punished. Er … yeah. Only, he seemed to have completely forgotten that Owen Paterson had been convicted of multiple heinous cases of paid defense. And that Johnson had imposed a three-line whip on his own MPs to have the stay suspended until the case was reexamined by a new committee with a majority of well-disposed Conservative members, now moving to the right. conclusion. It was as sordid as it sounds.

Yet here was a Bertie Booster, no doubt with spent Duracell batteries, trying to present himself as a champion of natural justice. Boris Johnson is going to be very upset when he catches up with Boris Johnson, who screwed up so badly. He hardly dared mention Geoffrey Cox. Once again, you must be sick with envy at the amount Geoff has raised since he became a deputy.

From then on, it was kind of a build-up. Johnson was not entirely sorry. Three times they asked him to apologize and three times he said nothing. Not even an insincere expression of regret for the impressions they might have given him. Conservative MPs whose second jobs have been seen under the microscope as a direct result of their own misjudgment might at least be expecting a private “I’m sorry.” Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he also declared the UK to be as uncorrupted a country as could be found – £ 3 million for a noble title, anyone? Again, he’s a prime minister who once declared the £ 250,000 a year from his Telegraph column to be ‘chicken feed’, so it’s no wonder he can’t see what all the fuss is about.

Still, Boris wasn’t done. He then said that there was nothing wrong with second jobs as long as MPs put their constituents first. Something he hadn’t done when he served as mayor of London despite being elected to Westminster in 2015. And he insisted that his own behavior was beyond reproach. It was nobody’s business who paid for the redecoration of his Downing Street flat. Or if he accepted a free vacation from someone he put in the House of Lords. Bad actions must be punished, he said repeatedly. Perhaps you have a subconscious desire to be discovered. One for your therapist.

None of this would have gone well with the Conservatives in hopes of drawing a line under the corruption scandal. Far from killing history, Johnson had taken politics one step further in the bathroom of squalor by refusing to accept any responsibility. Course pair for a self-destructive narcissist. He was asked why he did not stay in Glasgow, even if the chances of meaningful treatment were slim. Just to show that he cared. But then it really doesn’t. The only thing that really matters to him is himself.

Goodbye to calm by John Crace (Guardian Faber, £ 9.99). To support the guardian and observer, request your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Shipping charges may apply.


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