A friend emailed me earlier this week in despair about the Prime Minister. ‘Boris reminds me of a hereditary king — Edward II or Henry VI — who is so staggeringly incompetent that he must be removed before doing too much damage,’ he wrote. ‘I felt the same way about May but Boris is worse.’
He is not the only person feeling like this. It pains me to say it, but I too have given up on Boris. The final straw was hearing him talk about his plans to create an army of ‘Covid marshals’ last week — Britain’s very own, curtain-twitching version of the Stasi.
What on earth happened to the freedom-loving, twinkly-eyed, Rabelaisian character I voted for? Oliver Hardy has left the stage, replaced by Oliver Cromwell. His government has even said it wants to lower the speed limit on motorways to 60 mph. Didn’t Boris once say that voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3? Where did that guy go?
Some people think it’s all to do with his bout of coronavirus. As one person put it to me, surviving a near-death experience can affect people in one of two ways. Either you become more devil-may-care, thinking it could all end at any moment so why not live life to the full; or you become super-cautious, having been left feeling vulnerable by your brush with mortality. According to that armchair psychologist, Boris has gone through door number two. A less generous theory is that the disease actually damaged his brain in some way — and there is some evidence that cognitive decline can lower your appetite for risk. Whether the damage was psychological or physiological, the implication is clear: he’s no longer fit to be prime minister and should step down as soon as he’s got Brexit done.