‘Blistering timetable” – you have to admire Boris’s phrase-making, the kind of verbal ear-worm that gets into your head from one of his speeches. Paisley had the same ability with his “Never, never, never, never!” Except that Paisley’s unforgettable utterance turned out to be hot air from the big man’s big mouth.
So will Boris prove different? It’s hard not to suspect he might pull something out of the hat. His cheerful energy is infectious for some. It’s hard to think of his political career ending up a charred mass of burnt rubber and metal, like Theresa May’s. Boris and giving up seem mutually exclusive: any man who can make political capital out of being stuck on a zip-wire with two miniature union jacks in his hands has to be taken seriously, even as you’re pointing mockingly at him.
But we’d do well to remember that total credibility is the gift of the con-man, the total chancer. Remember John DeLorean? It seemed impossible that a man who looked so well, so statesmanlike, could be a coke-snorting charlatan. But he was. Or Jim Jones (no, Virginia, not the Belfast Celtic centre-forward)? He got over nine hundred of his followers to drink poison, in the full knowledge that what they were about to ingest would kill them. And who then killed himself.
Maybe Jim Jones is the best comparison with Boris. He looks like the saviour of the Conservative Party, which Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party looked all set to gobble up. He looks like the kind of man who’ll tell the German Chancellor and those other European leaders how wrong they are about the backstop. But do you see Emmanuel Macron swallowing Boris’s kool-aid? Or Michel Barnier? Or Donal Tusk? No, the danger is that blustering, blistering Boris will, on Octobe 31st, force the rest of us to drink his economic poison. That’s the downside. The up-side? The disintegration of the UK.
Always look on the bright side of life.