His pig’s ear of a speech at business conference was embarrassing
Just when the so-called stars on I’m A Celebrity were on the telly feasting on all sorts of animals’ innards, Boris Johnson was on the news making a right b****cks of himself during a speech to businessmen at the CBI.
I know I should have been having a hearty old laugh at the bumbling buffoon when, during the keynote address, he lost his way with his notes — apparently with his senses too — and went off on a pig’s ear of a ramble about Peppa Pig World and made an impression of a car, quoted from Lenin and compared himself to Moses.
But shame on me, I felt a little pang of pity for the prime prat of a premier as he struggled to recover but thankfully it was only a fleeting moment of sympathy which was soon overtaken by sorrow for the entire British nation that their sorry State is in the anything-but-safe hands of a clown.
The reason why I was able to sympathise, albeit briefly, for Johnson was that anyone who has ever delivered an address from notes or given a speech from memory on stage knows what it’s like to lose the run of themselves.
My worst experience was in a play in Belfast a couple of years back when the white mist descended during a two-handed scene with another actor who was just as far off script as I was. For what seemed an eternity the two of us burbled complete nonsense at each other, the one completely powerless to help the other out of the mumbling maze but eventually we got back on track.
Boris’ balls-up may only have been a fleeting embarrassment but it will be locked in the public consciousness for ever and a day like the day he was trapped on a zip wire waving two Union flags or knocking over a 10-year-old boy during an allegedly friendly game of touch rugby in Japan.
The PM has, of course, made many more serious mistakes in Downing Street in the handling of national emergencies like the pandemic but the CBI gaffe will be what people remember and was such a grim performance from Johnson that a journalist asked him afterwards if everything was OK.
And instead of holding his hands up a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Man United’s humbling at Watford which earned the Norwegian the sack, the PM quite unbelievably said he thought his speech had “gone over well”.
I don’t usually indulge in conspiracy theories but the internet was red hot with suggestions after the address that Johnson had deliberately gone astray to ensure that people wouldn’t pay as much attention to the thrust of what he was saying as what he wasn’t saying.
Certainly a lot more people were talking about his horror show than about his proposals for changing the social care system in England.
And then came rumblings inside his own party as a sizeable number of MPs rebelled against his proposals in the House of Commons, and in the shadows there were mutterings about whether or not Johnson was up to the job and in control of himself, his party and his country.
His near hysterical exchanges with Labour leader Keir Starmer did nothing to inspire confidence in his leadership.
A few days later Johnson chose his words more carefully following the tragic drowning of 27 migrants after their boat capsized in the English Channel on its way to the UK from France.
But as the French and UK authorities pointed the finger of blame at each other, there was an unavoidably horrible feeling neither side has the answer to stop the people smuggling and that what is needed is an international response to a Channel crisis that puts the problems in the Irish Sea into the shade.