To understand Boris Johnson, you have to understand the figure who has inspired him, shaped his worldview and accompanied him throughout his career. Admittedly Samuel Johnson has been dead since 1784, but his importance to Boris is unquestionable. Our next prime minister thinks the other Johnson is a ‘genius’ who ‘gave the world compassionate conservatism’. Britain, Boris once wrote, ‘has never produced an author with a better or more generous understanding of human nature’.
With Boris Johnson finally in No. 10 we now have a prime minister who says he is committed to Britain leaving the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal. According to popular wisdom, the only way of avoiding the latter is for the government to negotiate a modified version of Theresa May’s deal, perhaps with the removal of the hated Irish backstop, or at least with a more easily digestible version. But these are not the only two options.
Boris Johnson’s first 100 days will make or break him — which is what makes his premiership unlike any other. In his favour is his ability to rally support in the country; against him the realities of a hung parliament.
How will he begin? It’s already clear that Boris Johnson intends to be an unconventional prime minister. His personality is such that he’s likely to eclipse all else in government.
‘I’m not going to your place, it looks like a crack den.’ It’s not exactly a vote of confidence when your mother describes your home that way. Admittedly, the bedsit I have lived in for ten years is tiny. There is no central heating. The white blinds have faded to yellow. It’s not much good for house parties: I could fit four people, five if I sat between the sink and the microwave.
However, I would like to defend living in bedsits.
Two considerable injustices were undone this week. The first was the reinstatement of Sir Roger Scruton to the government’s ‘Building better, building beautiful’ commission. The second was the prosecution of Carl Beech for fraud and perverting the course of justice. The cases may be very far apart in their details, but their origins lie in precisely the same contemporary malady.
Scruton was sacked from his unpaid position in April.
Iran’s seizure of a British-owned oil tanker transiting the Persian Gulf has let loose a fresh round of media war chatter. Yet should another Persian Gulf War actually occur, who would benefit? Not America, that’s for sure.
The central theme of present-day US policy regarding Iran is deference. Nominally, US policy is made in Washington. Substantively, it is framed in Riyadh and Jerusalem, with the interests of the United States figuring only minimally in determining the result.
As I left Lord’s at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon to go to The Lion King European premiere I felt uneasy. Not because I doubted England’s chances of overhauling New Zealand’s apparently modest 241, but because I felt guilty at deserting Bairstow for Beyoncé, Morgan for Mufasa. There was no reason to suppose the remainder of the day’s play would be anything out of the ordinary. I’d been to Lord’s literally hundreds of times and more often than not left the ground simply contented to have spent time in its life-affirming surroundings; it had not really mattered whether the cricket itself had been memorable.
The late Frank Johnson — former editor of The Spectator — had a thing about London City Airport. ‘I never want to fly from anywhere else,’ he would say, often after returning from Germany, a country he loved, not least because of its Wagner connections. He was right, of course. Even today, more than 30 years since its official opening, flying out of City is a completely different experience from any other airport in the UK.