As recently as a few weeks ago, both Boris Johnson's supporters and his detractors would liberally toss the epithet "clown" in his direction. In many ways, it was as though Johnson privately relished his clownish imagine. He does after all have a good sense of humour, he revels in his image as a politician who doesn't care about the stage managed Orwellian nonsense that the Blair and Cameron types obsess over and more importantly, his clownish image has helped him dodge the kinds of criticism that often stick to politicians with a more earnest facade.
The last fortnight in British politics would have tested the resolve of even the most caviller political clowns and as to be expected, Boris Johnson has become both righteously angry and deadly serious about the attempt by opposition parties (and a third of his own party) to stop Brexit.
But rather than allow Boris Johnson to hold an election which would have almost certainly given him more breathing space in which to clown about, the opposition parties have instead opted to transform Boris Johnson into a martyr.
By refusing an election which could in theory topple Johnson from power, the opposition have put him in a position to both test and some would say defy the law in order to make good on his promise to achieve Brexit by the 31st of October. If this wasn't enough of an ascending political lift ride to the summit of seriousness, many of Johnson's opponents are suggesting that he might face time behind bars simply for delivering Brexit. It seems that the opposition will stop at nothing to transform "Bojo" into a full scale political martyr who is willing to sacrifice his freedom for that of the people.
If those in the opposition are confounded by polls which show that Johnson's popularity has gone up since his week of battle against an opposition now bolstered by some prominent expelled members of his own party, they should not be. Johnson's main policy is to deliver Brexit by the 31st of October. Seeing as Brexit was and by all indications remains a majoritarian opinion in the UK, Johnson is necessarily acting on behalf of the people - both in a legal sense (delivering the referendum) and in an ethical sense (resolving Brexit in accordance with the fundamental rules of universal suffrage democracy).
This is not to presume that Johnson means any of it. As Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has consistently said, if Johnson means what he says about achieving a deal in the form of Mrs. May's ghastly treaty with a few amendments, this will be as big a betrayal of Brexit as that which Jeremy Corbyn has in store.
The issue therefore is more one of public perception than of content. Johnson's greatest strength has always been his charm and his verbosity and his weakness has always been the nagging accusation that he's not serious enough for a leadership role. Now though, circumstance has transformed him into a deeply serious figure, one who is set to go to court in order to test the legal fibre of his promises to the country. There's scarcely anything clownish about this.
As to who transformed "Bojo the clown" into "the political martyr Boris", the answer is that all of the leaders of the opposition parties in addition to people like Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke have been responsible for this transformation. They may rue the day that they instigated it.
Share this article