Few have made the transition from COP to flop with such outstanding speed as Boris Johnson.
He had, in the space of five short weeks between the conference and mid-December, gone from hobnobbing with world leaders to being a dead man walking. Everything is unravelling around him at such an alarming pace that the knives were already out for him even before the debacle of the North Shropshire by-election.
It is probable that Johnson will still be Prime Minister at the start of January, which is either good news or bad news depending on how you look at it. Obviously, for the good of the country, it would be best if he were to go quickly. However, for sheer entertainment value, most of us would prefer his end to be as slow, painful and humiliating as possible. Rather than being stabbed in the back in a back-bench coup, it will be so much more cathartic to see him hanging on by his fingertips as he sustains a prolonged kicking from all sides.
It was all so different in the middle of November, when he used the platform of COP to spout a whole load of hot air about how Britain is leading the world in tackling climate change. How we would reach net zero in next to no time, in the much the same way as he promised to ‘send Coronavirus packing in twelve weeks’ back in March 2020. And, we all know how that turned out.
It is hard to view the whole fortnight of COP without agreeing 100% with Greta Thunberg’s criticism of it as ‘Blah, blah, blah’. And, let’s face it, no-one is better at ‘Blah, blah, blah’ than our very own BoJo.
Scotland, of course, temporarily achieved Net Zero over the fortnight of COP, as it was impossible to drive in Glasgow city centre, and the M8 was shut to allow Joe Biden, and Barrack Obama’s motorcades to get from Edinburgh to Glasgow. It’s ridiculous enough in the age of Microsoft Teams that world leaders should be flying half way around the world to talk about what we can do to stop burning fossil fuels.
But then to factor in a needless ninety-mile round trip of a daily commute was insane. It’s not as if there are not enough rooms for rent within walking distance of the conference site itself. At The Campanile in the car park of the Hydro, you can usually get a single room for under fifty pound a night albeit a very ropey one. Mine had an unpleasant stain on the armchair, as if the previous guest had shat themself.
But when you consider the effects of cleaning fluids on the ozone layer, a filthy hotel room is a small price to pay for ensuring the future of the planet. Talking about shit, back to Boris Johnson and his ‘mensis horribilis’, as he would doubtless describe the month before Christmas. We had the shambles of a speech at the CBI conference when he kept dropping his notes, rambling on endlessly about his trip to Peppa Pig World and constantly kept mumbling ‘forgive me’. Bit late to be asking that, having ruined the economy and presided over 150,000 deaths in the past year or so.
We then, of course, had the endless revelations about parties at Downing Street and Alegra Stratton’s resignation in a flood of crocodile tears, presenting a very wet face for someone who had been hung out to dry. Johnson, having initially denied that a party had taken place, then changed his story and claimed he didn’t know it had happened. Which is a stunning admission for any Prime Minister to make. It was happening at his address and he failed to notice it. If there is a massive piss-up going on in your own house and you don’t even know that said massive piss-up is going on, you really do not possess the powers of basic observation required to lead the country.
HIs next gambit was to claim it wasn’t a party but a Zoom quiz. Presumably the first question in the quiz was ‘who’s been to Peppa Pig World?’ But, as we know, the shit continued to hit the fan. The rebellion of a hundred backbenchers over Covid restrictions was followed in a couple of days by the loss of the North Shropshire ‘bye’ election, a Tory seat for two-hundred years. In other words, a seat the Conservatives have held since we actually had a proper system of voting. And, if that weren’t enough, the mini-crisis series, ‘Cash for Curtains’, continues to rumble on. I personally think that we should all chip in to pay for the refurbishment of the PM’s private residence, as long as we use the same cladding as they did in Grenfell Tower. Perhaps that would provide the most fitting end to Johnson’s career. He would be guaranteed his place in history were he to die in a house fire at 10 Downing Street. Few people would complain about those particular carbon emissions and it would constitute the last gasp of what would have been a good old ‘annus horribilis’ for BoJo.