For for a moment it looked like Boris Johnson was hiding in a fridge for the second time. Good Morning Britain’s interview with the Prime Minister was due to start at 8.15am and at 8.25am there was still no sign of him. Back in the ITV studio, Richard Madeley was set to fill the time with a Zoom interview with Patrick Kielty. The Irish comedian and presenter used dead air to remind everyone that Johnson was a liar so the time wasn’t entirely wasted.
It certainly set things up for Susanna Reid when a crumpled, pasty-faced Johnson finally joined her in her Downing Street study just before 8.30am. After reminding him that it had been 1,791 days since his last appearance on GMB, Reid cut to the chase. “Are you honest, Prime Minister? she asked. “Yes,” replied the convict. The interview had lasted less than 20 seconds and Johnson had already told his first lie.
Reid gave him a second chance to rethink his answer. Neither she nor Boris seemed to find it at all unusual that the first thing she would want to ask a Prime Minister after five years was whether he was a liar. Both knew the presumption was that he was. That’s how low we’ve come. A country reduced to the level of a superficial narcissist. The convict fumed, trying to hedge his bets. It wasn’t that he was lying, it was more that he was a polemicist. In his dreams. It’s just a tired joke that’s no longer funny. A beached end of the jetty act.
Even so, Johnson couldn’t help but dig. A man still desperate to go even lower. “I do my best to faithfully and accurately represent what I believe,” he said. It was revealing. Both for the admission that the truth does not come easily to him, that there is sometimes an unbridgeable gap between fantasy and reality in his consciousness, and for the implicit acknowledgment that the only cause he truly believes in is its own survival. And that for him there is a warped nobility in being dishonest in pursuit of that end. Even now he cannot bring himself to admit that he deliberately misled Parliament about Partygate. Although he himself attended many parties. It’s not just lying. It is a pathology.
After a brief dip in Ukraine – Johnson was adamant that the Russians were grooming children as sleeper agents, which is why the UK insisted on visas for all refugees – Reid moved on to the cost of the life. The convict was adamant that the government was doing all it could except where it could do more. He didn’t even seem to notice that he had just contradicted himself. So much for his famous Oxford Union debating skills. On the contrary, he mostly intended to talk about Reid and try to slow down the time of the interview. Even he could see that the interview was turning into a car accident and his legs were spreading further apart as he tried to get out of it.
Reid wasn’t so easily sidetracked and wondered how Elsie was supposed to get away with it. Elsie was a 77-year-old pensioner who could now only afford one meal a day and had taken to using her bus pass all day during off-peak hours to keep warm. A hint of recognition from The Convict. “I brought the Freedom Pass as Mayor of London,” he added. Of course he hadn’t, but the lie was the least.
The real giveaway was what it said about Johnson. There was no sympathy for Elsie and people like her who were struggling, not just to get by, but to stay alive. No sense of duty or responsibility to the country he claimed to serve. Just a willingness to take credit for allowing retirees to spend their days warm at the expense of the bus company. As if it was some kind of brilliant government initiative that people like Elsie should be grateful for. Then the Convict will claim that the night tube was designed as accommodation for those who cannot afford to heat themselves. Concrete is good for our backs. Lucky, lucky us.
Now Johnson was visibly struggling. All thoughts of a triumphant and sweet pre-election interview had long since been crushed and burned as he stepped up his diversionary tactics. But Reid stayed focused. How much has carer’s allowance increased? Boris had no idea. And didn’t really care. He just wanted his ordeal to end. But his rush to get away only turned the car crash into a multiple pile-up.
Energy companies could not be expected to pay a tax on windfall profits as BP struggled to muddle through with profits of £6bn last quarter. People like Elsie shouldn’t be so greedy. It was time for her to stop wondering what the government could do for her and start being a little more selfless. By eating once every two days, for example. And if she could learn to treat tax hikes as tax cuts, she would have more money to spend and not have to waste what was left of her life going back and forth on the South Circular. Above all, Elsie should understand that 10% inflation was her fault, so she should suffer.
For the last few minutes – when she could get a word on the edge – Reid reverted to convict honesty. How come we had a prime minister who was at the center of a one-man crime wave? And why did everyone who was guilty of breaking the law have to resign while he stayed put? Johnson mumbled something about being proud of what he had accomplished — imagine the cognitive dissonance — before Reid called time. “Lorraine is waiting,” she said.
“Lorraine who?” Johnson asked. For once, it wasn’t an act. He really had no idea who Lorraine Kelly was. It was almost as if he suspected ITV might have lured another lover with a paternity suit. The days of the convict as a self-proclaimed man of the people are long gone. And it will be well over five years before he agrees to another GMB interview. Where was a fridge when you needed it?