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Boris’s big column backfires


Boris! Boris! Boris! For a week now, the cry has been incessant among our national media. Liberated from his parliamentary cage, what will the albino gorilla do next? And last night we got our answer: a new column with the Daily Mail, that organ of Middle England sensibility. Eagerly, the whole of Fleet Street awaited Johnson’s first column, published at 5 p.m today. What would he write about, they speculated furiously? State secrets, perhaps? A denunciation of Sunak, Gove and all the sinister forces that they embody? Or some great revelation about his future plans?

The answer, it turns out, is, er, no. Rather anti-climactically, Boris published his first Mail column on a weight loss drug – two weeks after every other newspaper did a feature on it. Johnson wrote how he hoped the drug would curb his chorizo and cheddar late-night raids but, alas, he didn’t quite take to it. Having splashed out a substantial six-figure sum on hiring the onetime Telegraph star, you would think that the bosses at Northcliffe House might at least get some return on their investment in the form of a front-page splash about something vaguely newsworthy. Still, this being Boris, he at least managed to include one cryptic reference to Sunak, in a homage to well-rounded advisors:

“Let me have men about me that are fat,” said the Roman dictator, shortly before his assassination. “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.” As it turned out, Caesar was right to be worried about Cassius.

Who could he possibly be talking about? Johnson’s column was published just hours after he received a slap down from the transparency watchdog Acoba. Johnson’s office informed the sleaze-busters that he had taken up the new gig just 30 minutes before it was officially announced, rather than waiting for official sign-off in line with government rules.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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