Harry Mount

Boris’s gloating critics should be ashamed of themselves

Boris's gloating critics should be ashamed of themselves
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Am I the last person in the metropolitan elite bubble who likes Boris Johnson? You’d certainly think so, going on the reaction to the sad news of his divorce from his wife, Marina Wheeler, after 25 years of marriage.

Every divorce is a whirlpool of misery for all those involved: parents, children, family and close friends. And yet the coverage of Boris’s sad news bubbles on a seething undercurrent of gloating and delight.

’Twas ever thus with Boris. For all his huge fan club, there have always been MPs who are jealous of his popularity; who were angry with him, when he edited The Spectator, that he didn’t accept their stultifyingly dull pieces on ‘Whither the euro?’

Boris is completely aware of all this. When he was sacked by Michael Howard in 2004, he wrote a characteristically brilliant, contrary column on what a pleasure it was to be sacked. Suddenly, all sorts of enemies were being nice to him because, secretly, they were delighted at his downfall. I’m sure many false friends are gathering round him now, offering crocodile tears – and he’ll be able to see straight through them.

Then there are those who have a quite understandable beef with him. Remainers understandably take against him for doing so much to swing the Brexit vote despite being initially undecided – as he implied in his two Telegraph articles, arguing either way, even if his Remain article wasn’t actually published.

Those who have worked with him – and that includes me – are infuriated by his unreliability. For five years, my Wednesday nights were destroyed as he filed his copy later than any other journalist.

Despite all that, I remain a fan: because of the brilliance of his columns, and his warmth and friendliness on the occasions I bump into him. I think he’s touched by a sort of genius: for comic writing and witty delivery; and in his intellect.

Last time I saw him, he delivered great chunks of Latin from memory; not to show off but because he wrongly assumed I knew them off by heart, too.

Of course I see why lots of people don’t share my views; why they’re deeply upset over Brexit; why they don’t approve of his extra-marital shenanigans.

But surely none of this excuses any delight at the break-up of a family?

Harry Mount is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson (Bloomsbury)