The Editor’s Desk: Wacky Westminster time

A new reality show out of the United Kingdom has the world transfixed, and not in a good way

I have a new favourite TV comedy show, Schitt’s Creek, which sadly doesn’t come back with new episodes until January, when the sixth and final season will start to air. In the meantime, another favourite show has just gone on hiatus, supposedly for five weeks, but there’s every chance that the reality show I’m calling Wacky Westminster will continue to enthrall.

How to describe Wacky Westminster? It’s part comedy, part drama, and part soap opera, with a brooding air of tragedy hanging over it. The star of the show is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who inadvertently brings much of the comedy, and whose rise to the highest position in the land should give hope to everyone who aspires to high political office but lacks most of the skills and abilities usually considered necessary to achieve that goal.

BoJo is a shining example of the sort of privileged, upper-class Englishman who feels it is his destiny — nay, his right — to lead others simply because of who and what he is, not because he demonstrates any marked talent, ability, or temperament to be a leader. When he was still a boy, he announced that he wanted to be King of the World, a position which (fortunately for the world) isn’t up for grabs.

Unfortunately for the United Kingdom, the position of prime minister is available, and BoJo has for years made no secret of the fact that he wanted the job. He failed upward through a succession of positions including Mayor of London, deploying a superficial charm and air of erudition to convince a lot of people that maybe a Johnson premiership wouldn’t be a disaster for the country.

He finally got his chance earlier this year, having notably not run for leader after David Cameron’s resignation in 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union; presumably he wanted to let someone else sort out that particular mess. However, three years on, and with no Brexit deal in place or even under consideration, Johnson ran for leadership of the Conservative party, promising that Britain would leave the EU on Oct. 31, deal or no deal, and at last achieved his long-desired goal of becoming prime minister.

However, anyone hoping that BoJo would, once elevated to the position of PM, display the gravitas, dignity, willingness to compromise, and statesmanship that have so far eluded him must be sadly disappointed. Johnson’s modus operandi has been to double down on Brexit, insult his opponents, suspend parliament for five weeks, and expel 21 moderate, well-respected Conservative MPs (including Winston Churchill’s grandson) from the party. Since parliament resumed earlier this month there have been six votes; BoJo lost all of them, meaning that the one and ten BC Lions are having a (slightly) better season.

He still insists that Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31, even without a deal in place. The one slight problem is that parliament recently debated and passed a bill stating that it would be illegal for Britain to crash out with no deal, so BoJo has seven weeks to come up with a way out of that one. Fortunately for him, parliament is now on that five week suspension, so he presumably has some time on his hands.

Max Hastings, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, was BoJo’s boss for some time. Earlier this year he wrote “Boris is a gold medal egomaniac. I would not trust him with my wife nor – from painful experience – my wallet. His chaotic public persona is not an act – he is indeed manically disorganized about everything except his own image management. He is also a far more ruthless and frankly, nastier, figure than the public appreciates. I would not take Boris’s word about whether it is Monday or Tuesday. He is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect, save as a superlative exhibitionist. He is bereft of judgment, loyalty or discretion.”

This is the man now leading Britain through one of the largest crises in its history, which is one of the reasons why Wacky Westminster makes for such compelling viewing. I, for one, can’t wait for the next episode.

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