It is bitterly amusing to watch Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond squabbling about Brexit while Theresa May protests that she has confidence in both of them.
All three are an affliction on society and must be removed at the earliest opportunity, of course.
Mr Johnson’s attempt to cosy up with Donald Trump is transparent; he is trying to position himself as a credible replacement for Mrs May, if next week’s Brexit votes go against her.
Recent commentaries have suggested Michael Gove would be the Tory Party’s preferred choice, and this cannot have gone down well with Mr Johnson, considering their history.
(Mr Gove backstabbed Mr Johnson during the Conservative leadership campaign in 2016.)
So Mr Johnson has launched an oblique attack, concentrating on Philip Hammond’s Treasury, which he described as the “heart of Remain” and said had focused on “mumbo jumbo” predictions about short-term disruption.
He probably considers this to be killing two birds with one stone, as Mr Hammond is already on the ropes after he sold RBS shares at a £2.1 billion loss – and his demand for a stronger Leave-promoting stance may improve his popularity among Tories who currently support Mr Gove.
Mr Hammond has shrugged off the criticism. He has been quoted as saying, “In my experience a collaborative approach is more productive than a confrontational approach and my advice to colleagues is to engage with European partners.”
Mr Johnson’s praise for Donald Trump is clearly an attempt to regain ground he has lost on the international scene – although one wonders whether chummying up with another man who has provoked international ridicule is a wise idea.
He said he had become “increasingly admiring of Donald Trump” and had become “convinced that there is method in his madness”.
“He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere,” he said – in a clear attack on Mrs May’s Brexit strategy.
So: Johnson has attacked Hammond, Gove and May – and aligned himself with Trump. Good strategy?
Only if his own ideas are any good – and in this respect he remains a blundering, boneheaded boor.
His words on the Northern Ireland border are a perfect example. “It’s so small and there are so few firms that actually use that border regularly, it’s just beyond belief that we’re allowing the tail to wag the dog in this way. We’re allowing the whole of our agenda to be dictated by this folly,” he said.
That is not the point, though. The point is that the fragile peace in Northern Ireland would be threatened if a ‘hard’ border was reinstated with the Irish Republic, as would have to happen if the UK left the EU. It has nothing to do with business.
If Boris Johnson can’t understand even this fundamental point, then he deserves to gain nothing from his posturing.
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