For most of the 30 years that he’s been in public life, people have been saying, “Surely, surely Boris Johnson is finished now.” Last night, for the first time, it was true.
Madame Tussaud’s Blackpool lugging their waxwork version of Boris to do his Tory power stance outside the local job centre sums a lot of it up — the affection for Johnson’s bumbling posho act (always more effective in class-poisoned Britain than it should be in the 21st century) was sanded away by years of contempt and scandal, leaving only the farcical behind.
Ditto the protesters blaring “Yakety Sax” (most famous for its use in The Benny Hill Show) outside Westminster so it would play during MPs’ reports from the scene. And credit to our friends at The New European, whose front pages have for years been taking advantage of the fact that Johnson looks like a Monty Python animation rendered in three dimensions.
Still, one of the many things Johnson had in common with his acolytes Donald Trump and Scott Morrison — along with a metric tonne of scandal and disgrace — was that his innate buffoonery gave us a lot of exquisitely funny content. Here are some of our favourite moments:
Dancing machine It’s one of the strangest sights in political history — Johnson cavorting about like a dad near the end of a wedding, flailing his arms in a rhythm that implies he’s dancing to a different song to the one playing, Johnson brandishing a lager can, his partner a lightsaber (?!?!).
It started doing the rounds around the time the partygate scandal (the weakening blow that made the Chris Pincher scandal a fatality) really got going. As it turns out, it wasn’t linked — his dance partner, former chair of the London Assembly Jennette Arnold, confirmed it was from many years earlier when Johnson was mayor of London, lamenting only that she had not put her prop to better use.
Got zip During the 2012 London Olympics, Johnson decided to highlight London’s Olympic attractions by getting up on a big zipline wearing a hardhat and harness and waving two Union Jacks like some kind of ageing, safety-conscious James Bond.
Did this manage to make him the news of the day, thus distracting from Britain’s first gold medal at the first Olympics held in the UK since 1948? Of course it did. Did he, in a bit of Paddington Bear-style tomfoolery, get stuck, slowly grinding to a halt and hanging limply at the zipline’s centre, his trousers hiked up by the harness? Do you even need to ask?
In a lovely detail, a witness told The Guardian that he was stuck for so long — maybe 10 minutes – that she “got bored and went back to her pint”.
Model PM Asked on TalkRadio how he relaxes, Johnson went all “Tim and Eric do a British kids show”:
I make models of buses. So what I do, no, I don’t make models of buses, what I do is I get old — I don’t know — wooden wine crates… right? And then I paint. And I turn it into a bus. And so I put passengers — you want to know this? … No, I paint the passengers enjoying themselves on the wonderful bus.
Under my umbrella There’s not much we can add to this one. Johnson getting into a right royal kerfuffle with his brolly while sitting next to Prince Charles (at no less a solemn occasion than a fucking memorial to honour police officers who died in the line of duty) is such an exquisite, Chaplin-esque piece of physical comedy, you simply have to watch it:
Boris the scribe We took a quick look at some of the low lights of Johnson’s journalistic career earlier this week, but we neglected to highlight this genuinely prescient piece of work from 2010:
The whole thing is unbelievable. As I write these words, Gordon Brown is still holed up in Downing Street.
He is like some illegal settler in the Sinai desert, lashing himself to the radiator, or like David Brent haunting The Office in that excruciating episode when he refuses to acknowledge that he has been sacked.
Isn’t there someone — the Queen’s Private Secretary, the nice policeman on the door of No 10 — whose job it is to tell him that the game is up?
Tackling the big issues And speaking of David Brent, the following footage — of Johnson barreling over a child in a game of touch rugby, à la our own PM — has always put us in mind of the chilled-out entertainer’s lament: “If you headbutt a girl on the telly, you get labelled a prat”.