This was not just the best speech that Boris Johnson has given since becoming Prime Minister, it’s the first proper weapons-grade speech that he has given since running for the job. It showcased his gift of communication, his ability to mobilise language to uplift, enthuse and motivate. To convey a sense of cheerful mission – even when it comes to Brexit and correct the tone: seek to replace the acrimony with optimism. To say that we love Europe but after 45 years of constitutional change we need a new relationship with it. It showed use of comic metaphor.
‘If parliament were a laptop, the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom… if parliament were a reality TV show then the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now.’
This teasing is so much more effective than excoriation and is a perfect antidote to the deranged, angry tone of his critics. He speaks as if these trip off his tongue – but if they did, he’d deliver speeches like this more often. It takes time to think of and hone these metaphors and like all good comics he repeats his material once it is created. It’s a genre of political speech, and I’m not sure that anyone does it better.
This is his natural tone, this is him. In recent weeks, it has seemed as if Boris had been persuaded to play the role of a standard Prime Minister. This was always going to fail because he is no such thing. His parliamentary performances have not fizzed. He was a flop as Foreign Secretary because didn’t manage to get going, and didn’t do enough speeches like this one.