That new Prime Minister Theresa May will expect her ministers to devote their time exclusively to their appointed portfolios is not in doubt, but whether they will all meet her expectations is another matter, especially in the case of London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who is supposed to be Foreign Secretary, but is clearly having difficulty committing himself to his duties.
A complete Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
Bozza, so Press Gazette has discovered, “is to give up his £275,000-a-year column for the Daily Telegraph after being appointed foreign secretary”. Whatever will he do for “chicken feed” now, one wonders? As Dominic Ponsford points out, “Johnson’s weekly Telegraph column may have made him the UK’s best-paid journalist, in terms of hourly rate … Johnson said in the register of MPs’ interests that he was paid £22,916.66 a month for ten hours work by the Telegraph, giving him an hourly rate of just under £2,300”.
£2,300 an hour? Many of those who toil in the same profession may not see that much folding stuff in an entire month. And it is clear that Bozza has not kicked the habit just yet: he has a column in today’s Telegraph, despite the crises in Nice, Turkey and elsewhere in the world. Worse, that column shows how little he is doing in his new job.
Under the headline “Brexit frees us to build a truly global Britain” - more meaningless soundbites along the lines of “We haven’t left Europe, we’ve joined the world” - readers are told “I came into the Foreign Office yesterday morning after a pretty truncated night’s sleep to find the place in what Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service calls ‘crisis mode’”. And what did brave Bozza do to show leadership? He left them to it so he could dash off his column.
Here, he tells “We cannot leave ‘Europe’ in the proper sense of that word … But we can and must respect the people’s will, and extricate ourselves from the EU … And that gives us a chance not just to do new trade deals, but to think of ourselves once again as a truly global Britain using our unique voice - humane, compassionate, principled - to do good around the world, and to exploit growth markets to the full”.
Very good, Minister. And how will we realise this truly global vision? You’ll love this one: “from just my first few hours in the job I can tell you that in Whitehall and around the world we have the staff who are only too eager to get on with it”. Fine. Let’s put that to the test: to do new trade deals, we will need trade negotiators. So how many trade negotiators does Britain have at its disposal right now? None. Zilch. Zero. Not even one. Bugger all.
That is because the EU has been doing that on our behalf for over 40 years. To replicate just those deals the EU has already done will need not just hundreds of them, but thousands. Were we to secure the services of every skilled trade negotiator in the English speaking world, we would be lucky to get half-way there. The idea that Britain is ready to summon up the capacity to “get on with it” is laughable.
Had Boris Johnson bothered to do a little research - you know, as in doing the job for which he is being paid - he would soon find this out. But as he is effectively a non-existent minister, he is not. He’s still in journalist mode, making sweeping statements and playing to the gallery without getting off his backside and getting in touch with reality.
The Foreign Office has a pilot who never took a flying lesson. God help us all.