Mandy Rhodes: Boris being Boris is bad enough but failing to stop him is even worse

Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

THE symbolism could not have been starker.

Photographs last week of the first secretary of state, Damian Green, and the Moray MP Douglas Ross, showed them at Findhorn to welcome new engines for the Moray Inshore Rescue boat.

With Green under investigation by the cabinet office into allegations of inappropriate sexual advances and of storing pornography on an office computer and with Ross having finally had the whistle blown on his MP’s extra-curricular activities on the football field, Theresa May’s government is well overdue a life raft.

We are at a pivotal point in Britain’s history and with the eyes of the world firmly focussed on our withdrawal from the EU, May presides over a joke of a government split down the middle over Brexit and with each one of her ministers operating to a separate agenda.

With two ministers gone in a week, others under scrutiny over their sexual or financial behaviour, every day just brings another threat of scandal. Loyalty, trust and competence are three words that appear to have little currency round the Cabinet table and with May too enfeebled to stand up to her rogue operators, she is faced with a team of freelancers who seemingly operate with just one plan in mind – their own.

And as ever, it is Boris Johnson who epitomises the depth of dysfunction at the heart of May’s government.

His actions are frequently demeaning, pointless and boorish but only underline the fact that 18 months on from the EU referendum, we are still being steered in a dangerous direction by the same self-serving, self-important, former public-school boys that led us into an EU referendum campaign.

Vince Cable described them as ‘reliving their dormitory pillow fights’.

Johnson isn’t some harmless eccentric that in a past life would have been married off to some unwitting foreigner who confused his ill-judged loquaciousness for the prized foibles of upper class breeding, he’s our foreign secretary, he was the chief cheerleader that led us into this Brexit dystopia.

Johnson represents us on a world stage and frankly, he’s not fit for the job. He makes jokes out of global tragedies, pokes fun at foreign hosts and insults nations but his latest intervention could cost a mother, imprisoned in Iran, her freedom.

That isn’t some schoolboy gaffe, it is inconceivable of a diplomat and should cost him his job.

But it won’t.

Boris has continually tested May’s mettle and found it wanting. He came out tilting at windmills at a sensitive time in the Brexit process and his arrogance then was only compounded by her stark inability to deal with him when she dismissed it as “Boris, being Boris”.

No surprise then, that he’s just carried on being him – she’s given him that licence.

And no wonder, Priti Patel felt emboldened enough to go on a busman’s holiday to Israel and to hell with the consequences. She had learned from the master.