Written in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016, this letter to Boris Johnson remains as true today, as it was then and as a consequence this letter is often revived online. Now, after the man has finally built his own cabinet, I am reviving it. Not a word of the below has been changed or updated, absurdly, 3 years on, it didn’t need updating. Now is his chance to own the whole grotesque charade.
This is a photograph of us in October 2014, less than 2 years ago, when you were Mayor of London and I was nobody.
We were at the opening of new offices for a marketing agency called M-is in Isleworth, in the London borough of Hounslow. Arriving, we were picked up in the same taxi, which took us past several new London buildings that you, as the Mayor who had signed for their construction, were proud of.
London was very investable back then. I hope it is now.
Speaking later that day, you were in fine form, chirpily championing a rare hairy German snail that lives protected on an island in the nearby river Thames. If anyone could uphold the reputation of such a foreign resident as this snail, you joked, it would be this marketing agency. The agency, you said, could acknowledge that the snail and the Royal Family shared joint immigrant heritage from the same part of Europe. Oh how we chortled!
The agency was surely delighted with your euro-inclusive words. Their new office was located near to Heathrow, and proudly International.
But that was then.
Today you are no longer the Mayor of London and I am still just me. You have changed beyond measure. That global London that you were proud of thinks that you have sold it and down the river. Following you as Mayor, Sadiq Khan capably harnessed a hard working multicultural legacy, proud of their success and aware of their relative prosperity, so of course they voted overwhelmingly to vote Remain, against the referendum position that you so contrarily took up.
London voters feared a leap into the dark. You said don’t fear it, and that £350m a week will go so very far.
So now you have an opportunity. You can try to be the new leader or you can hide when you are most needed, like Corbyn did.
Get yourself into Number 10 on a ticket of ‘I told you so’, armed with a bunch of ready-to-go new trade deals and a budget plan for rapidly dishing out grants to rebuild in areas where honest families have put their faith in you – places like Cornwall and Wales and Sunderland where the EU was investing, or Liverpool the onetime EU capital of culture (to whom you owe a bit of a favour).
Whilst you are at it please reassure the Scots and the Irish that all will be well with evidence of some brilliant real deals in their favour (like the EU regularly achieved).
You can also show us your alchemists plan for sending racists who hate “polish vermin” back into obsolescence whilst showing how an Australian points system for migrant workers will help to quell the fears of people who don’t want any more immigrants. Whilst doing so spare a thought for those EU migrant workers who helped keep London in business through austerity whilst you took credit as Mayor.
Of if you can ‘t do that, and 350M et al was self-serving bluster and lies, let someone less hypocritical and deceitful take the tiller.
And perhaps then we can all have the vote we should have had, between two knowns, two genuine alternatives, two plausible choices for Britain, rather than between reality vs an imaginary utopia.
You have to go for it Boris. Stand for PM by proving Remain was the wrong choice with facts not rhetoric. Or you will go down as a traitor to the proud working people in the 52% whose hopes you have stirred, to our children, our country, your beloved London, your dejected Eton pal, and all the nobodies like me