You’re a shambles. I don’t say that lightly.
You’re the Prime Minister of my great country and as such, I fervently want you NOT to be a shambles.
But all the current evidence suggests that by the dictionary definition of that word — “In a state of total disorder” — you’re officially a shambles.
In fact, that’s the modern, more generous meaning.
Back in the 16th century, a “shambles” meant a “place of terrible slaughter or bloodshed” which, trust me, is where you’re now heading politically if you don’t buck your ideas up pretty damn sharpish.
I’ve known you for more than 30 years and for all your myriad faults, I’ve always liked you personally.
You’re a character, and God knows, we need more of those in a public life so currently neutered by the dreary, joy-sucking woke brigade.
But running the country, in fact any country, requires you to not just BE a character but to HAVE character.
And this is where you’re failing so miserably.
In 2007, I interviewed you for GQ magazine. It was one of the last times you subjected yourself to a lengthy on-the-record interrogation by any journalist — more of that later — and it gave me a fascinating insight into what really makes you tick.
You were Shadow Higher Education Minister at the time, but it was clear to everyone you had loftier political ambitions.
The only question was whether someone with your, ahem, “colourful” background and personality could wing his way to No 10 Downing Street.
You have destroyed trust
“Do you think this country would ever elect a buffoon as Prime Minister?” I asked you.
“Have I over-buffooned it?” you chuckled. “It’s very difficult to be both, I agree.”
“I don’t really buy into this buffoon thing,” I replied. “I think you play it all up to make money and charm the public, when underneath lurks a calculating, ambitious and very serious brain.”
“That’s very kind of you, Piers,” you responded, “but you must consider the possibility that underneath it all there really may lurk a genuine buffoon, and that may be why I am finally prohibited from getting very much higher because it may be the psychological effort needed to haul myself into a more serious, gaffe-free zone proves too difficult.”
I thought of that exchange when you became Prime Minister in December 2019. Not least because I voted for you.
I didn’t do so because I agreed with you about Brexit; I was a Remainer.
No, I did so because I couldn’t stomach the thought of hard-left lunatic Jeremy Corbyn winning power, and I also believe it’s vital for democracy that results of elections and referendums are honoured, which is what you promised to do.
As the Donald Trump/January 6 fiasco in America showed, when the credibility of a nation’s electoral process is denied, it’s a slippery, ugly slope to civil unrest.
However, in your election victory speech, you declared: “We have won votes and the trust of people who have never voted Conservative before. I am humbled that you have put your trust in me and that you have put your trust in us.
“And I will make it my mission to work night and day, flat out, to prove you right in voting for me this time, and to earn your support in the future.” That now sounds like a very hollow pledge.
Let’s be frank: You’ve destroyed much of that trust in just two disastrous years, and many of those people who broke the habit of a lifetime to vote Tory because they admired your “Let’s get Brexit done!” chutzpah are now so disillusioned, they’re telling pollsters they’ll never support you again.
Your crashing personal popularity is cratering support for your party too.
Conservatives are heading for meltdown in the May local elections, which will only fuel No 10 wagon-circling by ambitious Cabinet ministers like Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
And sorry Boris, but you’ve only got yourself to blame. Trust in you has been burned, not earned.
Yes, we’ve had a pandemic, and yes, that would severely test any leader.
That’s why we have the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe, and why we suffered the worst economic slump of any G7 nation.
I give you credit for the brilliant vaccine roll-out, and the furlough scheme that saved many businesses from collapse, but for little else.
Crisis management, particularly in a health emergency, demands leadership that’s firm, fast, decisive and calm — four words that could never be used about you in this pandemic.
But, staggeringly, it’s not even this ineptitude (many people have been far more willing than me to give you a pass for it, given the unprecedented enormity of the problem) which has morphed you so quickly from political winner to political liability.
What’s wrecking your premiership is your aversion to honesty and accountability.
The trust rot started when you indefensibly stood by your aide Dominic Cummings over the Barnard Castle scandal, thus cementing, in the public’s eyes, a “one rule for them, one rule for us” mindset which caused devastating damage to Covid restriction adherence.
This has been massively exacerbated by revelations of illicit Downing Street parties going on at the same time you were ordering us all not to do the same.
And by your own personal refusal to play by the rules.
When Conservative MP, and one of your pro-Brexit muckers, Owen Paterson was caught egregiously breaking lobbying rules to line his own pockets, you shamefully tried to change the rules to save his greedy backside.
This led to your party getting destroyed by the Lib Dems at last month’s subsequent by-election — after Paterson was forced to quit — in a seat Conservatives had held for half a century.
And we’ve just witnessed you use the pathetically lame and disingenuous “I changed my phone” excuse to get yourself off the rap for improperly using a wealthy Tory backer to lavishly refurbish your No 10 flat.
No wonder those first-time Labour-bred Boris voters are looking at you now and concluding: “There’s nothing different about this guy, he’s just another sleazy dodgy Tory.”
Taxes are rising, prices are surging, trust is collapsing and Labour is moving ahead in the polls in a way that is panicking even your most loyal fans. People aren’t laughing with you any more Boris, they’re either laughing at you or furious with you.
You’ve waltzed through life telling brazen whoppers to escape punishment whenever the manure’s hit the fan either professionally or personally, but you can’t do it now that you’re Prime Minister.
And every time you try, you further harm your own reputation and that of your government, party, and country.
Having said all this, I don’t think you’re fundamentally a bad bloke. As you told me in our GQ interview: “I’m largely harmless. Well-meaning perhaps.”
I just don’t think you care enough about the consequences of your casual approach to life and leadership, and you’ve displayed a shifty, cowardly refusal to be held properly accountable for anything.
It was pathetic to watch a fellow journalist run and hide in a fridge to avoid answering my questions on Good Morning Britain, and boycott shows like GMB for months on end for fear of a tough interrogation.
Grow a pair, man! (And you can start by being one of my first guests on my new global TV show . . . )
You wrote an excellent book about your hero Sir Winston Churchill which lauded his courage under fire. Do you think Winston would have ever fled into a large refrigerator to duck a journalist?
Of course, he wouldn’t.
How will Brexit be done?
Boris, I’m not even sure you want to be Prime Minister any more.
Perhaps the cold, hard reality of such a massive job, and the relentless workload and pressure that comes with it, has made you yearn for your old carefree life?
I last saw you at The Sun’s brilliant Who Cares Wins awards several months ago, and you looked absolutely knackered.
But this is too vital a moment in our country’s history for you to be half asleep at the wheel or dreaming wistfully of the good old days when you bed-hopped and bull*****ed your way around London with joyous, unaccountable abandon.
You told me in our GQ chat: “My grandmother always said to me, ‘It’s not how you’re doing darling, it’s what you’re doing’. And I think it will all get much easier when there is a big job to do, and I can just get on and do it. And all these points you make about buffoonery and image will just fall away.”
Your grandmother was right, but your prediction was wrong.
People voted for you because you got Brexit done. Now they’re turning off you because you’re getting very little else done that is genuinely helping to enhance the lives of the British people, and you haven’t so far even proven to them how Brexit will do that, either.
Yet, with Omicron hopefully speeding up the end of the pandemic, there is finally light at the end of the dark Covid tunnel, and Britain urgently needs a leader bursting with energy and positivity to seize that light and drag us into a bright new future.
The kind of leader that you resembled two years ago.
Stop being a shambles, Boris, and start getting more things done, or admit that being Prime Minister is simply too much for you and let someone else do it — before the party takes that decision for you.