I won’t be shedding too much blood, sweat and tears for Boris ‘Winston’ Johnson, by Piers Morgan (PC).
I do though feel genuinely sad about Boris, or Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to give him his full name. I’ve known him 25 years and he’s a magnificently complex, colourful and fascinating human being.
A man able to recite fluent Latin, quote Greek gods at length, play a very competent cover drive on a cricket field and seduce a beautiful woman as fast as he pours her a glass of Chablis.
(When the then Tory leader Michael Howard sacked Boris in 2004, for fibbing about his extra-marital antics, I told the adulterous miscreant my favourite joke about him: ‘A new poll asked 10,000 women if they wanted to have sex with you, and 8,567 said: “Never again, no”.’ Boris roared with laughter.)
He modestly sees himself as the new Churchill; a journalist, writer, bon viveur, world class wit, drinker, loquacious speaker and inspirational leader.
Boris has undeniably been brought down by large dollops of his own arrogance, hubris and sense of unvanquishable invincibility (I don’t, obviously, see any of these virtues as necessarily bad).
He’s also, though, been done in by those classic British traits of envy and fierce resentment of success, notably from within his own Conservative ranks.
I spent Tuesday night at an ITV summer party jammed full of our finest politicians. It was a seething hotbed of political gossip, intrigue and plotting. As the drink flowed, one senior Tory MP took me aside and told me: ‘We’re going to CRUSH Boris into a mangled heap. He’s going to get f***ed, trust me. ‘Completely and comprehensively F***ED!’ …
Well, today Boris was indeed duly crushed and f***ed. Michael Gove, his close friend and, until yesterday, Brexit co-mastermind, chucked him under a gigantic bus and ran over him a few times just to ensure he was fatally wounded. It was one of the most cold-blooded acts of political back-stabbing I’ve seen since… Boris and Mr Gove did the same to Cameron a few months ago. …
So I won’t shed any tears for Boris because he knows the game and he plays it as hard and ruthlessly as anyone.
Ironically, the ones who may end up shedding tears are the Tories if they lose the next election, having ditched a massively popular, natural-born winner as we saw in the London Mayoral race and EU referendum.
But I feel sad he’s quit the race because I think high office needs more not fewer characters like him. He energises debate, and encourages many more people to engage in politics than might otherwise do so.