Brexit was for the gloom and doom merchants who worried about the pound falling to a 168-year low. He was here to sing Rule Britannia and waffle. No one can accuse Boris of being a poor waffler
“People want more Britain, not less,” he said, donning a pith helmet, “and that’s what I am going to give them. Now that we are about to be liberated from the EU, there will be no corner of the globe from which the union jack does not fly.”
It’s considered good form to let a new minister witter on for 10 minutes at the start of their first appearance before a select committee and Boris was determined to use every second. No one anywhere in the world was talking to him about Brexit. Brexit was for the gloom and doom merchants who worried about the pound falling to a 168-year low. He was here to sing Rule Britannia and waffle. No one can accuse Boris of being a poor waffler.
Eventually, the committee chair, Crispin Blunt, decided enough was enough. “I’m sorry to stop you waffling,” he politely interrupted. “But how are you going to recolonise the world when your department is so badly underfunded?” Boris didn’t have an answer so he waffled on a bit more. People would just fling open their borders to us at the very moment we were slamming ours shut in their faces.
The idea of painting the world red had Tory Andrew Rosindell priapic with excitement. “Can we talk about Norfolk Island?” he yelped, having recently just returned from an all-expenses-paid trip there. Boris appeared unaware of the existence of the island, so Rosindell pressed on. Could we have a Commonwealth flag flying on every embassy? Boris didn’t know there was a Commonwealth flag but was certain the Commonwealth would soon be far more influential than the EU. Could he make sure the Queen paid a visit to Gibraltar? And could he make sure the Queen was given another royal yacht? Rosindell has an unerring eye for the big issues of the day.
Boris Johnson ‘unfamiliar’ with Commonwealth flag
Boris knew his luck was in when John Baron started quizzing him on Brexit. The Tory MP is a long-term Eurosceptic and who some might think would consider nuclear war a price worth paying for Britain to leave the EU. “What would you say to the remoaners?” he asked.
“I’m not going to give a running commentary,” Boris said. “But I will say that they should jolly well cheer up a bit. Everything is going to be fine so long as we all keep our fingers crossed. The prime minister has made it absolutely clear she has no idea what she is doing but whatever it is she does end up doing will all be fine.” The two Foreign Office minders sitting on either side of Boris didn’t seem to be nearly as confident about this as their boss.
Boris Johnson: west looking at military options in Syria
It took the SNP’s Stephen Gethins to try to pin down Boris. Was he for or against the single market? “The single market is an increasingly useless term,” Boris ad-libbed. Some couldn’t help feeling that it was the term Boris Johnson that was becoming increasingly useless. Sensing he was about to say something that might get him another ticking off from the prime minister, Boris defaulted to his familiar riff about Britain drinking tanker loads of champagne and prosecco.
“Is it even your objective to stay in the single market?” Gethins cut in.
“The single market isn’t the Groucho Club,” Boris replied. Nothing escapes him. The single market has rather less champagne, prosecco and cocaine than the Groucho.
Boris was also a little off-message when he pronounced himself proud to be a citizen of the world – Theresa May has serious punishments for anyone calling themselves a citizen of the world – but he did manage to get his serious face on when Ann Clwyd brought up Syria. Boris may not be sure where Syria is, but he knows there’s something bad going on there. “It’s all very difficult,” he mumbled. “But I wouldn’t rule out kinetic action.” For kinetic, read military. Hey ho, hey ho, it’s off to war we go.