David Wilson reviews Brexit Boris by Heathcote Williams and is appalled by what he learns about the British foreign secretary.
Boris Johnson has been described as ‘Trump with a thesaurus’ and after reading this book I would agree, but add, a thesaurus containing a knife.
I read Brexit Boris: From Mayor to Nightmare by Heathcote Williams in one sitting. It was the first cold evening of early November and our cat was agitated by the sound of fireworks. My agitation was brought on by this book. I had to turn the heating down because I was starting to shake in anger.
How had so many been taken in by this tousel-hared (deliberate misspelling) bully. A man who sends his enemies emails with the words, ‘fuck off and die.’ A man who conspired with an old ‘Bully Them’ buddy to enable an act of serious physical assault.
Williams has said, ‘There’s a German word for people like Johnson: Backpfeifengesicht. It means ‘a face that needs to be punched’. I don’t want to get that close to him, but after finishing this book I would willingly get close enough to throw it at him.
Douglas Adams in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe wrote ‘It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.’ Boris is certainly that, but also a throwback to an earlier age of imperialism and racism we thought might be gone, if not for good, on its way out.
For Boris, migrants ‘leech, bludge and scrounge off taxpayers,’ Ugandans are descibed as ‘piccaninnies’, Chinese workers as ‘puffing coolies’, Nelson Mandela moving Africa towards a ‘tyranny of black majority rule’.
Nearer to home Liverpudlians have ‘an excessive predilection for welfarism’. Bundled off by his party leader to apologise he ungraciously sulked that his trip was ‘Operation Scouse-Grovel’.
To his hatred of ‘the other’ may be added his love for those like himself and his family who have wealth and privilege. ‘We should,’ he said, ‘be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them. They are victims just like the homeless … They are a put upon minority … like Irish travellers.’
By your enemies know your enemies. Conrad Black, neo-conservative past owner of the Daily Telegraph described Boris as, ‘Ineffably duplicitous’. Ex-Tory MP Jerry Hayes suggested ‘Boris has a morality which would make an Algerian brothel owner blush.’ Right-wing historian, Max Hastings, has said that ‘Boris is a gold medal egomaniac. I would not trust him with my wife nor – from painful experience – with my wallet,’ while ex-Tory MP Matthew Parris, has said Boris has ‘creeping ambition in a jester’s cap’.
There is nothing jester about Boris and his politics. Williams suggests that the man is not even against the EU, but used the Brexit campaign as a means to get to No 10. Having failed in this he left it to others to clear up his mess and, in the words of Lord Heseltine, ‘He’s like a general who leads his army to the sound of guns and at the sight of the battlefield abandons the field. I have never seen so contemptible and irresponsible a situation.’
Meanwhile on that battlefield others have been left wounded and some dead.
In the aftermath of the Boris-inspired Brexit vote the Daily Mirror reported: ‘Racist and xenophobic abuse, attacks and hate crimes are being reported all over the country.’ In Polly Toynbee’s view: ‘racist graffiti and abuse was given a new license by Boris Johnson, who adopted Nigel Farage’s anti-immigrant tactics.’
Williams descibes UKIP as a kind of Waitrose version of the BNP. Boris is more like a Fortnum and Mason’s version.
This man is now our Foreign Secretary! As Williams tells us, ‘The most indiscreet man in public life is now also in charge of M16 and GCHQ: a man with no moral compass is in charge of a senior department of military intelligence.’
Mind you was it ever different? Perhaps like the Trump presidential candidacy in the USA, and despite the man’s efforts to hide his real identity with his deliberate bumbling dishevelment, Boris is not the joker in the pack after all. He is the man who exposes the unmasked face of all the Kings, Queens and Princes.
Brexit Boris is illustrated by some of the UK’s top cartoonists, including Steve Bell, Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman.
David Wilson is author of Left Field: The Memoir of a Lifelong Activist, which you can buy here…
Uncovered here are the lies, the sackings, the betrayals, the racist insults, the brush with criminality, that should have got Boris Johnson disbarred from ever being considered for high office.
Now in its second edition, available from Public Reading Rooms:
Price: £8 post free