Sometimes one can only feel sorry for the formerly very occasional Mayor of London, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, as he blunders from one gaffe to the next during what deserves to be a brief spell as Foreign Secretary, but such sentiments do not last for long, as the real world then intervenes and the sorrow is replaced by anger at the ridicule to which Beano Boris is heaping on his own side - and his own country.
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
Bozza has still not got used to the idea of being part of a team in which he is not the captain. So it was that earlier this week he had to be - once again - slapped down by Theresa May for opening mouth and inserting boot. “Boris Johnson has been rapped over the knuckles by Downing Street for claiming that Britain will launch its EU exit negotiations ‘by the early part of next year’ and that Brexit could be completed within two years”.
And, as the FT noted, “The foreign secretary was immediately rebuffed by Theresa May, who has ordered her ministers not to engage in a ‘running commentary’ on Britain’s negotiating strategy or the timing of Brexit talks”. Crikey chaps! Johnson also got the hard word over his suggestion that the process of leaving the EU could be completed within two years. And today has brought far worse news for both Bozza and the PM.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, the body which will have to ratify the deal struck between Britain and the other EU member states, is visiting London and has not been backwards in coming forwards to tell anyone asking that he favours triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty sooner rather than later, so that Britain does not take part in elections to the European Parliament in 2019.
There would be a further advantage in pushing for a swift invocation of Article 50: there would also be no British participation in the next round of EU budget negotiations, that period being slated to begin in 2020. So the PM is effectively having her hand forced by the EU, whatever the press wants us to believe. And as Faisal Islam of Sky News has observed, Schulz has little time for Bozza and his comments.
“Schulz says May's attitude to Boris Johnson's negotiation skills was revealed by her appointment of David Davis as lead negotiator” he has told, following Bozza’s latest dispensing of the word “baloney” over a trade-off on free trade and freedom of movement. And Schulz had further hard truths for Theresa May.
The two comments that nailed the airy dishonesty of the Happy Brexiteers were simply “The best possible deal with the EU is membership of the EU - any other deal involves trade-offs. No Europe a la carte” and “I refuse to imagine a Europe where lorries/hedge funds are free to cross borders but citizens cannot”. The second, as Islam explains, means there is unlikely to be a deal for the City, or indeed any other sector of the economy, without a commitment to freedom of movement.
We have to get a deal past Martin Schulz. He has told us that he does not want to have to veto it, but it is clear what will get past him - and, for the Brexiteers, what will not.