Is there a single blue-rinse Tory who doesn’t fancy a knee-trembler with Boris Johnson? | Marina HydeMay 17, 2019
I wouldn’t kiss you if you were the last man on Earth!” It’s one of the great cliches of romance novels that any woman saying this will, in due course, be doing just that. Maybe it’ll be a hate-kiss in the hayloft above the stables; maybe it’ll be a momentary lapse just after he’s rescued her from a predatory ranch hand. But you can absolutely bet on it: she’s going to be “sharing herself” with this man within 100 pages. The Tory parliamentary party’s relationship with Boris Johnson is the hardcore porn version of this.
For so long, you couldn’t move for Conservative MPs saying they’d leave the party if Johnson ever became leader, that they wouldn’t vote for him in a million years, that he didn’t have a chance of getting anywhere near their special place. One hundred pages deeper into the shitshow, where are we on these holdouts?
Well, weirdo Fleet Street convention demands I describe this as a family newspaper. So I can’t even begin to detail the stuff the Conservative party are probably going to do for Johnson – and, indeed, the stuff they’re going to let him do to them. But I can tell you that while he’s doing it, they will not be protesting, but instead moaning “DO ME UP THE WTO! PERVERT ME LIKE THE FACTS IN YOUR CHURCHILL BIOGRAPHY! IMPREGNATE ME WITH YOUR O-LEVEL LATIN!” The clear message you should be getting from “the party of business” is: buy shares in lube today.
Is he even possibly going to be our next prime minster, then? Boris Johnson? This Queer Eye “before” photo, this offbrand Flashheart, this radioactive haystack, this Frankenstein assemblage of all the rejected personality disorders of the minor Greek gods? Oh wait – this overpromoted journalist whose style philosophy is “sleeping in my car for a domestic misdemeanour”? According to what one experienced hand at the heart of government told the Spectator’s James Forsyth this week, “The only person who can stop Boris is Boris.” Right – just like how Mike Tyson said his hardest opponent was always himself. In a way.
If Johnson’s is one of the two names that makes it past the parliamentary ballot, he is surely nailed on. Among the Tory party’s madly reactionary members, who lag about 30 years behind the rest of the country in every attitudinal survey, there is barely a blue rinse out there who doesn’t secretly fancy a knee-trembler with this winsomely naughty boy, 54. Sure, there will be a few Tory MPs who keep their word and decline to stick around in the event of Johnson winning – your Dominic Grieves (who’s already lost one confidence motion in his constituency), and perhaps your Nicholas Soameses. And we’ll come to how heartbreakingly brief that could render BoJo’s premiership in another column.
But in general, you should give as much credence to Tory MPs’ earlier expressions of principle as far as Johnson is concerned as you should have done to all the celebrities who said they would emigrate if Labour got into power in 1997, and to all the US stars who said they’d move to Canada if Donald Trump won the US presidency.
As for what has caused this great assuming of the position in the Conservative party: it is, of course, the twin threats of Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn. Yup, this is real Clash of the Tapeworms stuff.
Every now and then, it pays to take a step back and consider the stature of the dramatis personae of this era. Towering figures these are not – in fact, their slightness is truly remarkable. Perhaps the best way of characterising the horror of our age is to note that Nigel Farage – Nigel Farage! – is the most successful politician of it. Growing sections of an existentially panicked Conservative party believe that Johnson is the man with the momentum – the Bomentum, if you will – to counter not just Farage but Corbyn, a man who lavished deserved decades in obscurity on frotting the IRA while bizarrely dressed in the brightly coloured jackets of a daytime gameshow host.
But that was then. Nobody cares about things like the IRA, or lying, or how many mistresses you’ve knocked up and left, or any of that shit any more. They don’t care who funds Farage, or how. Read all the wanky articles: they care about emotion, and the stories you tell them. Johnson is judged supremely able to connect with people emotionally – amusingly, given he is personally incapable of any non-ironic emotion other than self-love. The most authentic slogan he could run under would be: “Not a serious person for not a serious country”.
Corbyn’s much-vaunted USP is that he has been fighting the hard right, in all its forms, for his entire political career. So how come he’s so openly unwilling to do so as far as Farage is concerned? Or maybe it’s because he likes stories so much that Labour has two totally contradictory ones to tell people for the European elections.
Arguably the only person who could throw all these three men into sympathetic relief is Theresa May. In terms of political gifts, or horrifying lack thereof, May recalls the bit at the start of Edward Scissorhands where Edward’s inventor dies before he’s been able to fit his creation with hands. The kindest way to put it is to say that May has spent the past three years coming off as unfinished. Her attempts to reach out have been calamitous. To watch her at work for any length of time is to end up screaming, “Oh my God PLEASE – please! – just STOP TOUCHING THINGS.”
Still, you will note that May has been resigned again this week. Over the past few months, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen her pictured in the classic back-of-the-car shot that’s supposed to indicate “taxi for the prime minister”. May feels like the only person to have resigned more than Farage – and yet she’s still there. We’re all still here, more’s the pity. The UK remains in toxic stasis, presided over by a necrotic government, but now with a gathering sense that much worse could be in the post.
• Marina Hyde is a Guardian journalist
Source of this (above) article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/17/tory-boris-johnson-leadership-candidate