Perhaps only to be contrarian, and perhaps entirely incorrectly, I have always taken a dim view of the achievements of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
His great voyage across Antarctica set off three years after the South Pole had already been reached. His boat was crushed by sea ice long before Antarctica had managed to raise itself above the horizon. Miracle. Nevertheless, he somehow compelled his men to paddle their way to safety at South Georgia Island, in tiny lifeboats, 720 miles across freezing ocean.
To which the correct response is: so what? Why should we be expected to find heroism in taking oneself and others deliberately, and pointlessly into the jaws of danger, but managing to escape unscathed? It is little more than the 21st-century equivalent of the YouTuber, seeking fame and fortune by pointing his GoPro at himself whilst hanging one handed from the 18th floor of a half built skyscraper. Who, frankly, cares?
And thus we turn to Boris Johnson, and the breathless reports from Biarritz, from “well-placed sources” that there is “movement”. Paris is moving. Berlin is moving. Brussels is moving. The ground beneath the backstop is starting to shift. A “deal” could yet happen. EU officials, we are told, are talking of seeing a “serious politician”, a man “trying to find a solution to a problem”.
This, of course, is the story Johnson seeks to write himself. The hero who saved his nation in its hour of need. Johnson is a straightforward narcissist. He has delivered a crisis for himself to solve. The little lives of others are merely the pages on which he believes himself entitled to write the Boris Johnson story. The needless man of the pointless hour.
He has joked and japed his way around Biarritz, jabbing his finger, smirking at the television cameras, as ever, unable to compute that, 34 years on, he is not still in the Oxford Union. He has swum around a rock, and told the EU, it has a hole in it, “but you won’t see it if you stay on the beach”.
He is, as ever, his own tragic Churchill tribute act. There was, to his great regret, no darkest hour waiting for him, so he switched off the lights himself.
The “backstop” is not a serious problem. It is one that has been invented to ameliorate the vandalism of Brexit – Johnson’s personal vandalism, done because he is too straightforwardly execrable to understand the nation is not the back room of an Oxfordshire pub, for him to smash up for fun.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland were a serious problem. Hundreds of people died. They were brought to an end, 20 years ago, through the dedicated efforts of actual, great men, of the type Johnson is just too narcissistic to understand that he is not. He has imperilled his nation for no greater reason than to seek to augment his own personal place within it.
Should any kind of deal be forthcoming, Remainers will cling to it as a semi-salvation. There will be no fuel shortages, no food shortages, no medicine shortages. The pound will plummet slower than it otherwise would have done. A week in Spain for the family will remain, just about, a realistic possibility.
We will, like Shackleton’s men, have made it to South Georgia Island. There will be a celebration of sorts. But it will still have been an expedition of profound pointlessness. We will, all of us, be worse off. The weeks ahead are uncertain, and pointless to predict, but there is every chance of Johnson emerging, as the beaming face of the greatest con that’s ever been pulled. The man who saved his country from himself.
But he will not be a hero in the long run. There is no chance of that. He is already beyond salvation.
Brexit became official Friday at 11 p.m. in London and midnight in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered.
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Boris Johnson lost his working majority in parliament on Tuesday when one of his Conservative lawmakers defected to the pro-European Union Liberal Democrats.
The outcome of the new shorter work week is exciting and set to influence a trend in the regional and global business strategy (‘4-day week sees 90% increase in productivity of Sharjah employees’ (01 February).
The people who are in the forefront of pushing Social Security “reform” by cutting benefits have gotten pretty good at hiding their intentions behind plausible-sounding jargon and economists’ gibberish.
On Sunday afternoon, a sportscaster spotted the first lady in the stands at the NFL playoff game in San Francisco and referred to her as “Dr Jill Biden.”