Column: “Clownfall” or Bye Bye Boris!

Boris Johnson. © Government of UK

London, UK (Weltexpress). The “Bye Bye Boris Song” by a certain Humphrey Milles with its bitter video clips and sarcastic collages has a good chance of becoming the hit of 2022. Boris Johnson’s resignation as Conservative party leader and his departure from No.10, maybe postponed until the autumn when a successor is nominated, was long overdue – and nothing short of spectacular. The Economist features on the cover of its latest issue a photo of Boris wearing a black suit and light blue helmet, strapped to a zip wire and juggling two British flags. It was one of Bo Jo’s typical publicity gags in every respect: The scene took place on August 1, 2012, on the occasion of the Olympic Games in London: Johnson wanted to – whizzing high in the air at breakneck speed over the 320 meter long Zip Wire with two Union Jacks – mark patriotism, and at the same time prove his daredevilry.

It was an unmistakable nod to the stunts in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as the fictional British national hero 007 – and at the same time a parodic nod to the Queen’s action, which yes, hilarious and very successfully, five days earlier, at the Olympic opening ceremony, had taken part in a skit with Bond actor Daniel Craig. What on that occasion with the Queen – just as recently her taking tea with Paddington Bear celebrating the Jubilee – was so effective and technically perfect on stage, went with Boris Johnson – like almost everything else – in the pants: Bo Jo suddenly stayed stuck 10 meters high on his tightrope, loudly demanding “a ladder or a rope” to free him from his predicament. The “Economist” put it in a nutshell: In allusion to “Skyfall”, the magazine headlined “Clownfall”.

And the charming and child-friendly Boris Johnson, who can hardly be taken seriously as a serious politician, was characterized as a clown on the European continent. The tightrope act and getting stuck at dizzying heights unintentionally became a prophetic act, a metaphor for Johnson’s reign: the prime minister had climbed from one scandal to the next without falling – until finally his conservative MPs and most of his cabinet ministers responded in a grotesque manner causing a chain reaction and then literally left him hanging in mid-air. With the courage of desperation he clung to this tightrope – in an objectively hopeless situation. In his resignation statement outside Number 10, he said: “I want you to know how sad I am to be leaving the best job in the world.” No apologies. Because Boris Johnson is leaving behind a shambles: Brexit is a disaster, the nation’s standard of living is falling, the Tories are no longer credible.

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