The story of an anomalous politician who perhaps no longer likes but his impatience with conventions and rules have also been the key to his success
FROM THE CORRESPONDENT
LONDON – Just forty years ago, a professor from Eton, the most prestigious school in England, wrote to the parents of a pupil: “This boy sincerely believes that it is gross of us not to consider him an exception, one that should be free from the bond network that binds all the others “. That student was Boris Johnson.
And the letter from the Eton professor is perhaps the key to understanding the life and works of the British Prime Minister: and how he ended up entangled in the Partygate, the scandal of the parties organized in Downing Street in full lockdown. He alone could think that, while all of Britain was confined to the house at his own order, he and his staff were allowed to hold office parties, you play quizzes, birthday parties with “happy birthday” cakes and choirs.
But on the other hand Boris’ impatience with norms and conventions, even its at least elastic relationship with the truth, are at the same time the key to its success. He is the opposite of the traditional politician: and this is liked – or at least so far liked – by a large section of the electorate. Only an atypical conservative like him could he succeed getting elected mayor of a left-wing city twice How is London; and only one like this, despite being a pure product of Eton and Oxford, could he succeed in wresting the Northern England workers’ vote from Labor, as happened in the last elections.
Boris is like this: take it or leave it. Its flaws – the disorganization, the carelessness, maybe even the cialtroneria – are also his virtues, the traits thanks to which he has so far managed to pass for “authentic”.
As has been said on several occasions, his figure Sui generis it allowed him to defy the laws of gravity of politics. Many times he has been given up for dead, and just as many times he has managed to avoid crashing to the ground: because what is true for others does not apply to Boris. The hesitations and the twists and turns in the initial management of Covid they had made him appear vulnerable and unable to face the emergency: but then he managed to set up a miraculous vaccination campaign that put him back on the shelves.
A “greasy pig” capable of freeing himself from the grip every time: this is how former Prime Minister David Cameron, his eternal rival, had defined him. This time, however, Boris really appears in the corner: the blatant breach of the Covid rules also cost him the benefit of the doubt. And public opinion now seems to have turned its back on him in a way that is difficult to recover.
However, the non-definitive pages of the Gray report may have left him room for maneuver at the last minute. In the coming days Johnson will play his last cards: he will go to Eastern Europe, to pose as a Churchillian statesman in the face of the Russian threat; it will launch a major economic rebalancing program for the benefit of the most disadvantaged regions of the country, which wants to be the heart of its post-Covid mission.
In the end, neither the voters nor the opposition parties will decide his fate, but his own Conservative deputies: who will have to determine if Boris is still an ace in the hole or if he has not become a ball and chain to get rid of as soon as possible. And a lot also depends on a successor’s ability to come forward in a credible way. In Westminster they remain with bated breath: but who knows that the “greasy pig” will not once again be able to escape from those who would like to celebrate.