As of Wednesday, Boris Johnson, widely known as BOJO in tribute to his deliberately clownish exterior personality, has finally become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK).
He got there by stabbing both his predecessors David Cameron – an old Eton and Oxford supposed friend – and Theresa May, who generously (and idiotically) revived his career by appointing him to the second highest position in the state.
BOJO’s political skill beyond superficial charm therefore has been in backstabbing, lies and treachery – traits worthy of the mad Roman emperor Caligula. Indeed, compared to BOJO, Caligula looks good.
BOJO inherits three years of deadlock in the UK’s remorseless slow crawl towards a no-deal Brexit – an exit from the European Union without any negotiated deal with Brussels that threatens to inflict the worst suffering and upheaval on his own country since the civil wars of the 17th century.
Yet BOJO, as the world now knows worships Winston Churchill and has ridden the Churchill Myth to power in No 10 Downing Street.
But in reality, the truth is the awful opposite, BOJO, as he is widely known is no Churchill who himself was summed up by his own deputy prime minister Clement Atlee as “50 percent genius, 50 percent bloody fool.” BOJO is a bloody fool all the way through.
In fact, Johnson’s entire career track record of zero achievement and endless failures and bungles consistently proves he is not Churchill but an “Anti-Churchill” – doomed to destroy and make a mockery of everything Churchill stood for. (Just as Theresa May made a mockery and demolished all the achievements of Margaret Thatcher).
Churchill by 1940 when he finally became prime minister at the age of 65 had already accumulated one of the most impressive – and controversial – records of any leader in Britain’s long history. He had run all three departments of war –the Navy, Army and Air Force. He had served five years as Chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister and been an enlightened reforming young home secretary (interior minister). As colonial secretary he had administered directly the largest empire in human history. He ran Britain’s entire armaments industry with conspicuous success during the final year of World War I. Before World War I, he even stole the oil reserves of Iran for Britain for 40 years.
Johnson by contrast had zero impact as an empty figurehead mayor of London and is universally agreed to have been a lazy, utterly incompetent foreign secretary who totally bungled Britain’s crucial exit negotiations with the European Union. No Churchillian record of achievement there.
Churchill was also an experienced combat soldier who had fought bravely, if recklessly in combat in colonial wars in Africa, the Americas and Asia and had served in the front lines of the trenches during World War I. He had ridden in the last cavalry charge of the British Army, helped design the tank and was an architect of the Royal Air Force.
Johnson has never seen a single shot fired in anger. He is inexperienced and untested with all the hollow, armchair bravado of the Phony Tough.
Churchill was deeply prone to depression and I believe was strongly bipolar (This is never acknowledged about him, but the pattern of behavior is very clear). However, he was enormously self-confident to the core of his being and genuinely brave.
Johnson is not brave. He is at best still utterly untested at age 55. He has never had a gun pointed at him by a man who would shoot it. Unlike Churchill, who was happily married for 57 years, Johnson’s two marriages lasted only a single decade between them. He has no emotional stability or solid foundation whatsoever.
Churchill at least did have steel in his character and never to the end of his life worried for a second over the hundreds of thousands of men he sent to their deaths at Gallipoli, Anzio, Rhodes, Norway, the entire Italian campaign, Malaya and so many other notoriously bungled campaigns. Johnson by contrast is an untested big bag of soft blancmange.
Indeed, Johnson, who has done his share of Russia-baiting and cheap demagoguery seems fated to make the notorious Roman Emperor Caligula look good and rehabilitate the little lunatic nearly 2,000 years after his assassination.
Caligula after all only declared war on Neptune, god of the seas and ordered his mighty legions on the shores of modern France and Belgium to collect sea shells as war trophies. The Roman legions therefore suffered zero casualties. This was far superior to Johnson’s likely running the risks of provoking full-scale war with Iran and even Russia.
Caligula killed a handful of Roman senators but the Roman Empire flourished for another two centuries in all its grandeur after his death. With Scotland on the brink of demanding full independence and Northern Ireland and Wales likely to follow, Johnson looks fated to preside over the disintegration of the United Kingdom – a political entity that flourished for more than three centuries until he came on the scene.
After a few months of BOJO’s chaotic, bungled twists and turns, the British people may well be calling to bring back Caligula: Compared to BOJO, he wasn’t so bad after all.