The prime minister of the United Kingdom is not unwell, according to a statement from his spokesperson who insists Boris Johnson “is focused on the issues that we face as we come up to the winter months and delivering on important changes like social care.”
Johnson is “well and he is focused on delivering for the public”, said Number 10 amidst the fall-out from the PM’s bamboozling speech to the Confederation of British Industry, the highlight of which proved to be a recount of his recent visit to Peppa Pig World.
So chaotic was the delivery and so rambling was the content of the speech that one journalist actually asked the prime minister, “is everything okay?”
Johnson’s disaster in front of the CBI yesterday (November 22) – featuring a 22-second pause punctuated three times by him muttering “forgive me” as the microphone broadcast him rustling his notes, desperately trying to find the right page in the speech – was compounded last night by a major rebellion in the Commons by Conservative MPs, angry at the government’s plans for the levels people will pay for social care – ones that will, once again, hit the poorest members of society hardest.
That comes with Tory bitterness over the Owen Paterson debacle and claims of sleaze still too fresh for backbenchers who were forcibly whipped to support a policy that was abandoned within 24-hours in a(nother) humiliating U-turn; itself followed by a U-turn that scrapped HS2’s eastern spur only adding to the dismay of MPs, particularly within the ranks of 2019’s new intake and Red Wallers.
The PM’s performance in recent weeks – or more accurately, how it is detrimentally affecting Conservative support – has led to increasing speculation about his fitness to lead the party, which has been amplified by the latest polls showing Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party is finally starting to edge ahead of the Tories.
CBI say ‘seize the moment’ but Johnson loses his way
A prime minister’s annual address to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference is one of the big diary events in the political calendar. This year, still dominated by Covid and Brexit’s implications, the CBI’s stage banner branding proclaims: “Seize the moment”, as a rallying call to business and industry leaders facing crises on all fronts.
As such, and given all the circumstances, the assembled leaders of British business may have been hoping for firm details about how the government is “seizing the moment” to bolster business and tackle the supply chain crisis, the worker shortage crisis, the climate crisis and how business can achieve net-zero targets, as well as crises caused by rising costs, surging inflation, and, of course, new barriers to trade and costs caused by Brexit. (Not to forget the lengthening litany of crises in society, health, education, policing, national infrastructure and frankly, anywhere else one cares to look, affecting everyone – businesses included).
‘Bizarre meltdown’ of man too arrogant to comb his hair
Therefore, a CBI audience of CEOs, managing directors and assorted exemplars of British business and industry would have expected something rallying from a famously boosterish Johnson, something inspirational backed by a plan to instil confidence.
Instead, the prime minister asked them to “raise your hand if you’ve been to Peppa Pig World” – having earlier compared himself to the bible’s Noah and given a “vra-vra-vrooom” impression of a car engine.
It was a 24-and-a-half minute cringefest, delivered by a dishevelled prime minister too arrogant to even comb his hair as a minimal measure of respect to his audience.
Having previously told “business to eff off, the PM needed to impress” commented John Crace in the Guardian, but “[I]nstead, he went into bizarre meltdown” with “the only logical explanation” for the speech being that “Johnson was out of his head on Mandrax.”
It has been asked before if the prime minister – who ended up being treated in ICU for coronavirus – has Covid-brain, a condition found in patients around the world affecting neurological functioning. A study published in the Lancet Psychiatry, found nearly half of 125 seriously ill coronavirus patients in UK hospitals had suffered a stroke and others had brain inflammation, psychosis, or dementia-like symptoms.”
Politicians, pigs, bacon sandwiches and porkie pies
Pork and prime ministers (and aspirants to Number 10) have become inextricably entwined in the last six years. Association with a pig’s head severely damaged David Cameron while Ed Milliband’s unfortunate handling of a bacon sandwich undid his 2015 bid to win the keys of Number 10.
Johnson’s predilection for telling porkies – and getting away with it – is extensively documented and very well known. It is one of his traits and he has, up until now got away with the 250 – and still counting – of them, so it would be somewhat ironic if the porkie that proves to be the straw that breaks the camel back and terminalises Johnson’s premiership, isn’t a lie but instead a children’s cartoon character.