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BoJo’s last PMQs and Churchillian instructions

28 July 2022 17:59 (UTC+04:00)
BoJo’s last PMQs and Churchillian instructions

By Orkhan Amashov

Boris Johnson’s last PMQs was magisterial. The session was a fine melange of stubborn defiance, a humble admission that certain topics could have been dealt with better, an acknowledgment of indubitably grand achievements accomplished, instructions to his successor, and a finely articulated subtle farewell, with a hint of a suggestion that nothing in this mortal life is out of the question - impossibility is a mere suggestion, not a certainty.

On the morning following the PMQs, I was awoken from a coffee-induced reverie by a WhatsApp message, containing an extract from the outgoing PM’s ‘hasta la vista, baby’ remark, sent by my Illustrious journalist friend Ilham Ahmadov of AzTV, to whom I regularly speak on local and international matters for his Weekly Highlights programme, aired on Sunday mornings.

The moment I received the message, I was seized with the idea of dedicating a piece to BoJo’s farewell, but it is only today that I had a chance to pen this overdue eulogy. My column has word limits, and thus I am bound to be brief.

BoJo's words of advice were succinct and crystal-clear. “Stick to Americans”, he said, just as Churchill articulated at the time when it was a foregone conclusion that the British empire would disintegrate in an orderly fashion and that, for the UK to remain ‘consequential’, it was vital to augment the Special Relationship to project a greater power across the globe - London's influence in Washington remains supremely critical.

“Stick up for Ukraine and stick up for freedom and democracy” – another lasting legacy of BoJo’s premiership that even his most malicious detractors would not dare to deny. He led the West in fighting against Russia’s latest incursion into a neighbouring country, and ailing and unconvincing US President Joe Biden now looks even frailer without his most steadfast ally on the other side of the pond.

Johnson’s point on ‘deregulation’ has not gone unnoticed. He judiciously declined to support any of the candidates but his line “I love the Treasury but had we listened to it, we would not have built the M25 and the Channel Tunnel” was rightly perceived as a rebuke for ‘Traitorous Sunak’, whom the venerable, black tie-clad Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg described as a ‘socialist Chancellor’, proffering endorsement for Liz Truss.

As a true Tory, Johnson believes in fiscal conservatism; he advised “to cut taxes and deregulate wherever you can “ to make Britain the greatest place to live and invest.

“Always focus on the road ahead, but always remember to check the rear-view mirror” was another punchy line, appropriated from Sir Alexander Cairncross, which will be remembered by posterity and reflected upon in retrospect.

Johnson humbly reminded his colleagues of achieving the greatest Conservative victory since the time of the Iron Lady, Brexit, and tackling Covid, summarising his tenure with “a mission is largely accomplished” verdict. In addition, he defined the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, as a “great pointless human bollard”.

His final words before departing were "hasta la vista, baby", appropriated from ‘The Terminator’ meaning “see you later”. Whatever the import of the message, one truism is clear: no eventuality can be overruled.

A behaviour that might have been considered insanity in one nation is perhaps a mere eccentricity in another. And the English… As Rudyard Kipling said in “The Puzzler'', “the English are quite a race apart”; perhaps the monstrously ignoble downfall of BoJo, however reversible it may appear to some of his supporters in their wildest imaginations, could articulately be explained by the circumstances of Kipling’s imagined “smoking-room, through clouds of ‘Ers’ and ‘Ums’, obliquely by inference”; and perhaps one day, which may come sooner than one may think, in such a room in a peculiar argot habitually used by those privy to the inner workings of Britain’s internal politics, an “illumination” will come, this time explaining how the Blond Exocet made it back.

Dr Patrick Walsh, an eminent Irish historian and a man of knowledge superior to my own, including on British history, is neither a Boris supporter nor Tory (perish the thought, his credentials and beliefs are of different propensity), arguing according to the mores of cold reason, told me that “there is a growing feeling among Tories and perhaps most people, that Johnson’s removal was a big mistake; the chief assassin, Sunak, is probably going to be a scapegoat for this”.

Dr Walsh admitted that he would not be surprised if Johnson would make a comeback in a couple of years. The game is afoot today and it will not be less afoot tomorrow. Larry the Cat, the supreme mouser, awaits the return of his master.

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