Boris prepares to take his punishment

11 August 2018, 20:46 | Updated: 11 August 2018, 20:53

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Theresa May has doubled her lead over Jeremy Corbyn in the latest poll. That sounds good if you just run through it quickly and don't turn back but you have to remember that it’s Jeremy Corbyn she's being compared to, not the Labour Party

The way that Uncle Jezza has been getting it in the neck lately, I wouldn't be surprised if the boss of Southern Rail hasn't doubled his lead over him – I wouldn't be shocked if the Yorkshire Ripper was ahead in the polls.

The latest YouGov survey for The Times newspaper shows that 36 per cent of those asked said they think Mrs M makes the best PM - up from 32 points a week ago.

Over the same period, the survey found Jeremy Corbyn's ratings slid from 25 to 22 points.

However, before Mrs May's camp puts out the bunting, the candidate that is the most popular is “Don't know” which got 39% - a clear lead.

Those numbers again for who would make the best PM – Mrs M 36, Jezza 22, don't know 39, which is 97% ...so 3% didn't even know enough to say “don't know”!

The same poll says the Tories have overtaken Labour and now lead by four points despite the Boris Johnson burqa row.

Or more likely because of the Boris Johnson burqa row.

In case you have been in a coma this past week, Boris declared that burqas make their wearers resemble letter boxes and bank robbers.

He couched those old jokes in a column that was superficially against the banning of them, as has happened in many countries, Denmark most recently.

He covered himself by making the thrust of the article about being tolerant, while also making the kind of old joke that will rub people's fur up the wrong way.

He can say, look, the thrust of the piece is that I am totally OK with it – I'm on your side, while the whole point of the article was to lob in an incendiary device and then scarper off on holiday while his minions defend him from those meanies on the left.

Talk about having your cake and eating it.

It's a classic move – say something that is just bad enough to make the lefties drop their falafel nut-burgers, then the right-wingers shout 'over reaction' and coalesce around the person that's doing the baiting.

Boris Johnson represents the Donald Trump-isation of British politics - it looks like a pretty naked move to position himself as the plain-talking man of the people to take over the Tory party.

(I apologise for putting the words 'naked move' and Boris Johnson in same sentence.)

The truth is that burqas make most British people uncomfortable.

It's not in our culture to not be able to see someone's face, just like it would make us feel uncomfortable if we were in the presence of a stranger in a mask.

It is bad enough when you're talking to someone wearing mirrored sunglasses.

So I suspect that Boris didn't accidentally drop a gaffe when he wrote about letter boxes and bank robbers, it was calculated to offend those that are keen to be offended.

He knew they'd make a big fuss and that the rest of the country would have the opportunity to agree with him, and feel relief that someone was talking their language.

Boris Johnson will be seen as the defender of British Britishness, become a folk hero and ride on a wave of ecstasy right through the door of number 10 Downing Street.

If that was the plan, then it is going very well. The nation has spoken of little else for five days straight.

What's not been mentioned much is how a man who has just stopped being Foreign Secretary and is currently still the full-time member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip can walk straight into a £275,000 job as comedy columnist for the Daily Telegraph?

It looks to an ignorant outsider such as myself as though it’s one of those revolving doors into the private sector we’ve heard so much about.

Would the Telegraph have been as keen on securing his services if he hadn’t been an MP, let alone such a high ranking member of the government?

Under the ministerial code, ex-ministers must apply to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments and wait three months before they can take up a new job.

But Mr Johnson did not seek permission before agreeing to sign on with the Telegraph.

Presumably, that three month rule is to avoid any sense of impropriety if, for instance, some higher-up in the MOD waves through an order worth billions from a defence company and then magically is appointed to the board of that same company the moment they leave office.

They are supposed to wait 90 days so as to avoid all charges of corruption.

If that satisfies the public that nothing untoward may have occurred, then we are stupider than I look.

And what of the punishment that can be doled out if an ex-minister, like Boris, chooses to ignore this gossamer-thin cover of rectitude and integrity?

Well, nothing at all. There is no punishment of any kind for ignoring the rules.

That'll teach him!

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