Boris is a social liberal posing as a Tory

Boris is a social liberal posing as a Tory, by Mark Steyn.

To modify Stalin, one gaffe is a tragedy, a million is just static. In 2016 Boris won a literary competition in The Spectator for a poem about Turkish strongman Erdogan fornicating with goats. It began:

There was a young fellow from Ankara
Who was a terrific wankera…

A week later Theresa May made him Foreign Secretary, and a few weeks after that he was dispatched to Ankara for a summit with the goat-shagging wankera himself. The new caliph did not raise the matter of the poem.

So, unlike most media or entertainment figures who progress into politics, Boris has not abandoned his old self — for the very good reason that it’s a hit persona: The great-grandchild of Jews, Muslims and a distant cousin of the Queen, he invented himself in his teens as what his Oxford chum (and another old editor of mine) Toby Young calls a Wodehousian buffer …

It was a canny choice of shtick: It duped the left and half of the right into dismissing him as a buffoon. And, even more cleverly, chuntering his way around the country as a toff with a massive thesaurus gave him, somewhat counter-intuitively, the common touch. The famous image of him stuck on the zipline in a beanie-like helmet waving plastic Union Jacks is so ingeniously endearing one assumes he paid them to stall the thing – because a failed photo-op is way less tedious than one that goes off like clockwork.

This is the genius of the act: He’s Bertie Wooster with Jeeves’ brain. Out on the street, he’s everybody’s friend; among his actual alleged friends, he’s utterly ruthless: Within twenty-four hours of entering 10 Downing Street, he’d pulled off the bloodiest cabinet reshuffle of “modern times”, as the papers say …

Is he a nice person? Well, he’s left an awful lot of human wreckage in his wake. Some of the women he’s used and discarded seem to me, without naming names, to be sad and profoundly damaged from their brief intersection with his wandering zipper. …

What does he believe in? Other than himself, not terribly much. …

Like Boris, Theresa May schemed and maneuvered for decades to reach the top spot …and, by the time she pulled it off, she’d spent so much time and effort on the scheming and maneuvering that she had no idea of what to do once she got there. Boris is likewise invested in himself, but, having reached the finial of Disraeli’s greasy pole, he doesn’t intend to be just the latest seat-filler. Mrs May wanted to be prime minister; Johnson wants to be a great and consequential prime minister.

Does that make him a philosophical Brexiteer? Doubtful. In the 2016 referendum, he considered the Leave and Remain choices in terms of what served his interests. To favor Remain meant supporting David Cameron, the de facto leader of the cause, and consigning himself to being a mere gentleman of the chorus. Whereas, if he chose the other side, his star power would make him the face of the campaign. He expected the Remain guys to win, and himself to have done himself a world of good with the Tory base come the next leadership election. Instead, and at least partly because of him, Leave won, and the chaos of the last three years began.

Something of a similar head fake is going on right now. A threatened “no deal” departure on October 31st is supposedly being touted by Boris just to force the EU into re-negotiating Theresa May’s floppo “withdrawal agreement”. So M Barnier and his backstop boy Leo Varadkar are insisting that’ll never happen, and it’s the May deal or nuthin’. Let them huff on. My view is that the whole re-negotiation thing is a feint, and Boris actually wants to leave with no deal. He wants a clean split – and the UK reborn as a sovereign nation, no ifs or buts. Whether he wants it because that’s his preferred public policy or because it cements his place in history is unimportant if you happen to believe, as I do, that that’s in the best interests of the United Kingdom. …

Boris is a social liberal posing as a Tory but the pose — “Mohammedans”, “tank-topped bum-boys”, etc — at least provides a brief rhetorical respite from the suffocating embrace of “diversity, inclusion and belonging”. I’m with Sam Goldwyn: Include me out.

hat-tip David Archibald