Two very strange thoughts have been running through my mind since the start of March. One is: ‘Thank goodness for the common sense of American people’. The second, somewhat to my own surprise is: ‘I really hope Boris Johnson stays in his job, at least until August’.
Let me explain. Point One. We can all thank our lucky stars and stripes for the outbreak of rational thinking amongst US voters fifteen months ago, when they elected Joe Biden. As the horror in Ukraine continues, the planet does seem a frightening dangerous place right now. Imagine, however, how scary it would feel if Trump were still in the White House. The only thing worse than one unhinged megalomaniac on the world stage, would be two unpredictable, unhinged maniacs with their fingers poised over the nuclear button. It is distinctly believable that Trump would either have teamed up with Putin in attacking Kyiv, or have launched a nuclear strike on the Kremlin by now.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has probably forgotten where he left the nuclear codes, while it is surprising that Boris Johnson didn’t swallow the UK’s button in some drinking game at a Christmas party or ‘work event’. Johnson has dealt with this crisis with characteristic Wooster-esque bluster, claiming Russia will feel the full force of Britain’s reaction. Yet there is a limit to how intimidated an ex-leader of the KGB can be by someone already issued with one fixed penalty for breaches of lockdown rules and currently under investigation by Parliament, the Civil Service and the Metropolitan Police for more illegal parties in his house which he claims never happened or he didn’t know about or he didn’t know were against the law or whatever new lie he will have concocted in the meantime.
And therein, amidst the massive tragedy of Ukraine, is the minor tragedy that Johnson is desperately using the suffering of the victims of genocide to hang on to his job. The mantra of his supporters is that the time is not right to get rid of the PM, with Europe teetering on the brink of Armageddon. Really? I can think of no better time for him to go. Someone who has ham-fistedly blundered through the twin crises of Brexit and Covid by pretending to be a slapstick buffoon cannot be trusted with steering us through World War Three. In one of his many ‘apologies’, Johnson mumbled that it was vital that he stayed in Downing Street so that he could tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Would that be the cost-of-living crisis that you created, Boris? Johnson’s only hope is the paucity of viable options.
This current bland cabinet would not look out of place if they were to be contestants on The Apprentice. Vacuous, interchangeable and instantly forgettable. However, there is one basic difference. If you lie or fuck up on The Apprentice, you’re fired. Seldom can there have been a Foreign Secretary quite so out of their depth as Dominic Raab. Until, along came Liz Truss, another faceless lightweight. She doesn’t even look the part. She reminds me of a particularly nasty letting agent I had when I rented a flat in North London in the late nineties, who kept on coming up with different excuses not to pay us back our deposit.
No wonder the UK is the laughing stock of Europe with such non-entities occupying the major offices of state. Watching Ms Truss’s visit to Moscow in February to supposedly negotiate with her counterpart, Sergei Lazarov, was like tuning into some cringingly embarrassing reality TV show. She seemed to spend most of her time prancing around Red Square in a ridiculous fur hat, taking selfies like the mother-of-the-bride on a hen weekend. Meanwhile, Johnson continues to bombastically bumble his way around on the world stage, promising Zelensky more armaments than the UK military actually possess.
But then, we all know how good Johnson is at keeping promises. I’m somewhat surprised he didn’t arrive in Kyiv on a bus with his pledges to the Ukrainian people written on the side. And while he may have partially come good on his 2016 promise to provide more cash for the NHS, he only managed that through persuading a 99-year-old war veteran to walk around his garden. Now that Captain Tom has kicked the bucket, where’s the money going to come from?
Which brings me to point two. Why do I want Johnson to stay in his job until August? Blatant self-interest. I’m currently writing my 2022 Fringe show, and if he goes before the summer, I’m going to have to re-write half the script. And there’s no point in changing the Johnson material to be about Rishi Sunak. He’ll have buggered off to the States by August. What a shower of shits.
Vladimir McTavish’s Edinburgh Fringe Show ‘2022, The Beginning of the End?’ is at The Stand’s New Town Theatre, 5-28 August at 7.10pm.