Boris, Spoiler of Summer Holidays; Boris, Calorie-Counting Nanny Statist; Boris the Dictator.
Did anyone vote for any of these grisly characters in the General Election last year? I know I didn’t. When I held my nose and put my cross in the Conservative box, I did so for two reasons. First, I thought it was our best shot at breaking the Brexit impasse and finally leaving the European Union. Second, I fondly hoped that after the disappointments of David Cameron and Theresa May, we might finally have a Conservative prime minister worth the name. Sure, Boris might not have the courage, principles and tenacity of Margaret Thatcher. But at least he’d inject our dreary, earnest political scene with a much-needed sense of fun…
Here is the Boris we ended up with instead:
There are some very simple ways we can all protect ourselves and others from the spread of coronavirus.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 31, 2020
We have announced tougher measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) August 14, 2020
We’re putting tougher measures in place to target serious breaches of coronavirus restrictions.
Fines for not wearing a face covering will double for repeat offences, up to £3,200. pic.twitter.com/Fnq3t50URe
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) August 16, 2020
Boris, we are repeatedly told, has libertarian instincts. When in April he first put Britain under lockdown he did so, he told us, with great reluctance.
Funny what a taste of untrammelled power can do to a man, though, isn’t it? In the space of six months Boris Johnson has mutated from loveable clown to blustering dictator.
Britain has the strictest lockdown rules in Europe. You can now get a fine of up to £3,200 simply for refusing to wear a muzzle, despite the fact that a cloth face covering is next to useless against Covid-19. If you go on holiday somewhere deadly like Spain or France, you are now expected to quarantine yourself at home for 14 days, unable even to go to the shops, on pain of more fines running into the thousands.
Not content with grotesquely overreacting to Chinese Coronavirus, Boris has also taken it upon himself to police our diets too.
His latest wheeze, according to the Sun, is to ban adverts for some or all of the following foods from daytime television because they are unhealthy:
Sausages; fish fingers; pasties; English mustard; ketchup; Marmite; bacon; cheese; humous; potato salad.
This is exactly the kind of political correctness gone mad that Boris would once have satirised heartily in his lavishly overpaid Daily Telegraph column. The Spectator’s diarist Steerpike has collected six examples of this: Boris saying it’s your own fault if you’re fat; Boris attacking TV chef Jamie Oliver for trying to make school meals ‘healthier’; Boris warring against the EU’s attempts to make child booster seats in cars compulsory; Boris decrying plans to restrict river swimming; Boris using his mayoral powers to stop a proposed ban on smoking in parks; Boris criticising George Osborne’s sugar tax as ‘continuing creep of the nanny state’.
In one of these articles, he lamented ‘the namby-pamby, risk-averse, mollycoddled airbagged approach that is doing so much economic damage to Britain’.
How could the person wise enough to have written those words have mutated in such short space to the very embodiment of the overweening nanny statism he once deplored?
The Boris Johnson we voted for was the Boris Johnson who got stuck on the zipwire; the Boris Johnson who executed that comically brutal tackle in the celebrity football match against Germany; the Boris Johnson who successfully threw a basketball hoop backwards over his head on the Embankment near London’s Tower Bridge.
The Boris Johnson we now have in charge — the bullying, nannying, enviro-loon dictator — is a very unpleasant and very disappointing imposter.
Please can we have the amiable buffoon back, sharpish?