I’ve been giving this some thought and as far as I can tell there is no other way to put it, Boris Johnson is exactly who we ALL think he is; a self-important, self-serving, entitled cunt.
I make no secret that I was lucky enough to have a fantastically privileged education, though not at an alma mater as famous or divisive as Elton College, but I don’t really believe that you needed to go to boarding school to have known the one feckless prick in your year that would try to weasel out of things any way that they could.
When I was fourteen I was caught by one of the house prefects doing something that I should not be doing whilst in the company and co conspiracy of a classmate. It was a minor infraction, nothing that needed to be brought to the attention of a teacher, but still it required some form of punishment to be doled out. So I and my compatriot, who we shall call Martin Blunt for the purposes of anonymising someone who may well not appreciate being outed in this way, were told to get a brass rubbing of the identifying plaque on the trig point at the top of the hill (Winder for those who are curious) which stood over the small Cumbria town in which my school was located. This was a common punishment, and apart from the fact of needing to rise early and do much of the ascent in the dark, due to the time of year, it is ironically the kind of thing that now in later life I would probably enjoy doing for fun and general health and well being. Still, Martin was adamant that he was not going up there before breakfast and that he had a plan that could get us both out of it. Instead of doing our punishment detail he would self-inflict an injury that would be minor enough to not be a real problem for him, but would be serious enough that I would have a solid reason for breaking off the ascent and assisting him in getting back to our boarding house.
I will probably never forget shivering in the half light while Martin repeatedly drove his knee into a stone gatepost at the bottom of the small hill our house was perched on until he was satisfied with the result as being persuasive enough. For one thing bone on stone makes a very specific noise, but there was a look on his face that I did not really understand, but that was clearly a single-minded commitment to not having to go for a pre-breakfast hill walk at almost any cost.
I know, you are thinking what I am thinking - why did we not just take the punishment, enjoy the dawn view from the top and the adrenaline / endorphin rush from summiting the hill and getting back in time to be at breakfast? Well, for Martin it was about agency, about not being subject to the whims of a prefect, and thinking he was smarter than them anyway, but for me..? I just allowed myself to be carried along with his scheme, plus I was really not very pro climbing hills in the pre-dawn at fourteen, and I suspect many who read this will remember what that prospect may have been like to the fourteen year old version of themselves as well.
I am pretty certain that we would have got away with it if Martin had not been overheard bragging about his inventiveness within earshot of the prefect that had set the original punishment and had grudgingly accepted my explanation at breakfast after checking with the house Matron that Martin was indeed quite so injured as I claimed.
So why am I telling this story? Well it seems to me that sending a photocopy of an unsigned letter asking for an extension to the Brexit process, in order to fulfil the letter of the law (with reference to the Benn Act), along with a contradictory letter that is signed asking that the EU ignore the letter that he has sent under duress, is the equivalent of Boris Johnson repeatedly ramming his knee into a stone gatepost at half past five in the morning. It’s a schoolboy’s plan, lacking in finesse and ignoring the reality that he has only himself to blame in having come to this pass. The entitlement that he clearly feels that allows him to believe on any level that his antics are acceptable or in any way honourable is staggering and can only be explained by a childish view of the World, or at least a willingness to seem that way in order to forward an agenda that is in no way of benefit to anyone except perhaps the cadre of financiers and financial elite that his own sister has alleged that he is looking out for rather than the wider British public.
Dicing with peace in Northern Ireland, with medical supply chains, with aviation reliability, with the prospect of Economic ruin that is predicted by every creditable voice across the political spectrum in order to further enrich the wealthy and to please a shrinking base of people whose myopic and intolerant outlook ignores all evidence to the contrary of their beliefs (I hesitate to even call them opinions) that Britain will be better off outside the EU is nothing short of an abandonment of duty.
The greatest sadness for me in all of this is how powerless we all appear to be, despite the promise of checks and balances, to hold him and his government to account or even to stop them from pursuing a course which appears with every passing day to be one of engineering a default no-deal exit from the EU.
The idea that History will vilify him is of no comfort to me.
The fact that we are a nation that has in the past overcome great hardship to prevail in the end is of no comfort to me and I am sure is of no comfort to the thousands upon thousands of people who in the coming months will have to decide between heating their homes and feeding their children, and who will have the singular experience of becoming patrons of their local food bank for the first time in their lives.
I still maintain a position that armed uprising is never the solution, that the loss of life and the risk of greater evil being unleashed is far too great, but I do wonder if the luck of my station and the resources at my disposal are the foundation of that belief. Does the Nissan factory worker in Sunderland who is expecting to be out of work in November see such a lofty distinction in their anger as they realise how horribly they have been lied to and how shamefully they have been used? Even if the anger of the people were to manifest in widespread unrest of the kind we have not seen since the Poll Tax Riots or indeed something more organised and indeed more sinister, would Boris even care? Would the establishment that we have allowed to take root simply carry on regardless? “England Prevails”? I thought V for Vendetta was a cautionary tale, not an instruction manual...