They were the ramblings of a metaphorical madman.
When Boris Johnson asked the delegates at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Conference – a room full of business leaders desperate to hear more about plans to rebuild the UK’s economy – whether they had visited Peppa Pig World or not, it was desperation that the PM was snuffling around in the mud for rather than truffles of oratory excellence.
It was the latest error in a whole catalogue of gaffes that have besieged Boris and the Tory Party since the summer, and the bookmakers have taken notice. Firms like Unibet, BoyleSports and Betfred now make Johnson odds of 2/1 or shorter to leave 10 Downing Street in 2022 – with a ready-made replacement in Rishi Sunak seemingly set to be sworn in.
His speech to the CBI started in typically bombastic Boris fashion, but it wasn’t long before he seemingly lost his place in his ream of script papers and started free-styling – mumbling incessantly ‘forgive me’ while trying to recover his poise.
And then….well, and then it happened:
“Yesterday, I went as we all must to Peppa Pig World. Who’s been to….hands up anybody who’s been to Peppa Pig World? Not enough. I was a bit hazy about what I would find at Peppa Pig World, but I loved it. Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place – it had very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass-transit systems, I noticed. Even if they are a bit stereotypical about Daddy Pig.
“But the real lesson for me about going to Peppa Pig World – I’m surprised you haven’t been there – was about the power of UK creativity. Who would have believed that a pig that looks like a hairdryer or possibly, well a sort-of Picasso-like hairdryer, a pig that was rejected by the BBC would now be exported to 180 countries.
“And no government in the world – no Whitehall civil servant in the world – could conceivably have come up with Peppa.”
All of this from a leader whose speaking abilities have been compared to those of Winston Churchill in the past….
On Borrowed Time?
While the next General Election is perhaps two or more years away, the Conservatives will be desperate to separate themselves from the sleaze and corruption allegations that have dogged them in recent weeks and months.
The lobbying scandal, in which Owen Paterson did his best to secure Grand National sponsor Randox favourable trading conditions as part of his ‘second job’, was a disaster – even Boris himself clumsily confirmed he had ‘crashed the car into the ditch’ after repeatedly refusing to tackle the issue.
There are those who believe the PM is losing his grip on the migrant crisis, and the decision to scale back railway improvements in the North were met with derision by a region that had been seduced by Boris’ charms at the polls.
And after the Peppa Pig fiasco, The Guardian – never slow to stick the boot in – claimed that an unnamed Tory MP had told them: “I thought today’s performance was the most embarrassing by a Conservative prime minister since last week’s PMQs. Someone needs to get a grip. He is losing the confidence of the party.”
Perhaps the only way they can effectively do that is to draw a line under Boris’ regime, and move on with a new strategy helmed by Sunak – a return to intelligent governance, rather than the car crash that Johnson’s premiership is seemingly devolving into.
His nemesis, the Labour Leader Keir Starmer, retorted after the recent lobbying scandal that ‘the joke isn’t funny anymore’ when referring to Johnson’s hubris-laden approach to politics. It’s getting harder and harder to disagree with him.
Last week, Boris Johnson tried to tear up the rules on lobbying to protect his mate.
When asked to apologise today he simply didn’t.
He isn’t a serious leader and the joke isn’t funny anymore.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) November 10, 2021
The latest poll on voting intention carried out by YouGov reveals a race at the polls that could be neck and neck.
The Conservatives earned 36% of the vote, with Labour fractionally behind at 35% – the Green Party overtaking the Liberal Democrats into third place.
These polls have a habit of being wide of the mark, but even so eagled-eyed punters may have noticed an opportunity in the markets.
Labour are priced at 15/8 to win the most seats at the next election, and a whopping 6/1 to land the overall majority.
The longer Boris remains at the helm, the shorter those prices will be pinched, you suspect.