Boris the Buffoon is a Christmas panto comedian – but there’s still time for him to become Houdini and escape disaster
BOJO’S buffoonery – always on the brink but never quite crashing – is a class act to confuse opponents and win the underdog affection of the great British public.
His mock comedy propelled him to No 10, delivered Brexit and won the Tories a shock landslide in the 2019 election.
Today, those Peppa Pig antics threaten to wreck his premier-ship and split the Tory Party asunder.
Brutally broken promises, screeching U-turns, self-inflicted wounds and the perception of drift and indecision are spiking the Conservatives’ most powerful weapon . . . loyalty.
Mutinous MPs have begun writing letters of no confidence and rebellion has spread not just to the Cabinet table but to panic-stricken Downing Street itself.
Close ally and Brexit minister David Frost this week openly criticised the PM’s betrayal on tax cuts. As Boris himself admits: “On a clear road, I crashed the car into a ditch.”
He was talking about his catastrophic plot to save Tory MP Owen Paterson from an open and shut sleaze scandal.
But he might have been surveying any number of unforced blunders including his decision — now irreversible — to hammer working class voters with a £5-a-week hike in National Insurance.
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This will come on top of an extra £10 a week on domestic fuel bills as gas prices hit record peaks. Coupled with dearer petrol, mortgages and soaring inflation, bills for average workers will rise by at least £1,000 a year.
This is a big hit for Red Wall voters on the average wage of £26,000 a year — a third of what MP’s are paid.
After two years in power, this wallowing Government has run out of steam. Yet despite everything, all is not quite lost.
There is still time in the Christmas panto season for BoJo the Buffoon to turn once more into the Great Houdini, escaping disaster at the last second.
Boris must take swift and decisive action to restore his tattered authority before all is lost. The options for what Tony Blair called “eye-catching initiatives” are slim.
He cannot reverse tax rises or slow the cost of living — though setting out a clear plan for when he intends to begin easing the highest tax burden for 70 years would be a start.
Stop the flotillas
Plans for eight Freeports to boost jobs and prosperity will take years to blossom. In fact, he has only one serious option. He can and should act immediately to stop flotillas of illegal migrants landing on UK shores.
It will take courage and determination — not characteristics usually associated with bumbling Boris.
The thorny issue has been blocked for decades by shroud-waving asylum activists, surrendered by Tory governments and actively encouraged by Labour.
Mass immigration is high octane, here and across Europe. Some 25,000 have landed on British shores this year alone — mostly single men, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kurdistan, mostly Muslim.
Hate crime and claims of Islamophobia have silenced argument in Britain, but it remains the hottest single issue here and across the Channel.
The headline debate in the looming French presidential elections is “the Islamification of Europe”.
It explains the battles raging on the border between Belarus and Poland. It is why Angela Merkel was toppled as Chancellor after welcoming a million Syrians into Germany.
And it is the issue that is tearing apart communities in Sweden, France and Holland.
If Boris Johnson hesitates now, the formidable Nigel Farage will make him and the Tory Party pay dearly at the polls.
The former Ukip leader has made the migrant issue his own, linking it with the risk of terrorism from the likes of Poppy Day bomber Emad Al Swealmeen.
“On Saturday, I watched 45 young men land on a beach in Kent,” Farage wrote this week.
“Every one appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin. There wasn’t a woman or a child in sight. Did some of them fight for Isis? The answer is that we will almost certainly never know. None of them had identity documents.
‘Nigel smells blood’
“When will Boris Johnson wake up to the reality of looming disaster? Why is he content to put the rights of people who have no link to this country above the safety of his own people? Who is he trying to please?”
The answer, of course, is that Boris is spending too much time listening to officials who are enslaved to human rights law, and who insist on gold-plating every known inter-national convention on asylum — no matter how unfit for purpose.
He knows he would be denounced as a “racist” the moment he announced effective measures, such as mobilising unsinkable boats, reboarding the migrants and sending them safely back to France.
Yes he needs to make up his mind — never his strong suit. Farage is ready to return to frontline politics, mopping up Tory votes in Red Wall seats at the next election.
“Nigel smells blood,” says a Government source. “We can’t just let this issue drag on and keep sending Priti Patel out to brief the papers.
“It is the only major issue the Prime Minister can seize upon immediately to prove he means business.”
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