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Neil Mackay: He thought himself above us all – now ‘King Boris’ must fall and fall hard

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IT wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Boris Johnson ordered Downing Street flunkeys to grow their fingernails excessively long in the style of Louis XIV’s courtiers.

The Sun King couldn’t tolerate the horrific sound of knocking when one of his underlings needed to tap on the royal chamber door. So grovelling cup-bearers and retainers were instructed to grow their fingernails overly long, enabling them to scrape obsequiously on the gilded doors of Versailles, quietly and unobtrusively alerting the Divine Presence that some mere mortal had to attend to his needs.

There were rumours that the long fingernails of assorted factotums were also used for the outsourced scratching of le derrière royale – for surely, ‘Louis Le Grand’ (a real title, incidentally) couldn’t face the ghastly truth that he might indeed have a fundament like the rest of humanity. However, such claims remain unsubstantiated.

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Here’s plain facts: Boris Johnson, abetted by his wife Carrie, has elevated himself to the status of royalty, and history has proved time and again that those who wish to be kings are always brought low. It’s not just that his rule-breaking means that Johnson should fall. For recovery to take place, he must fall, and must fall hard.

‘Healing’ is such a phoney, clichéd word these days, but Britain really does need to recover from the disgrace Johnson has heaped upon the nation. Without Johnson’s fall there will be no restoration of a culture where rules are respected by everyone. If Johnson doesn’t fall, Britain will continue on its current downward spiral. Where might that take us?

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When Paul Keating, former Prime Minister of Australia – one of the UK’s closest allies – mocks the predicament of Britain publicly, we get a rough idea of where our current trajectory leads to unless Johnson’s fall offers hope of some return to decency. Keating says Britain is led by a “collapsing, disreputable government”. Always depend on the good old Aussies for spitting out the truth when it’s needed.

We were inevitably going to end up here, at this sorry juncture in British history where the overweening ambition of one clownish toff brought the entire nation into disrepute. Remember: Johnson really did dream of becoming ‘world king’. Never disregard foundation stories – they give the deepest insight into the soul.

Johnson instinctively considers himself above the rules of us mere mortals. His newspaper career saw him dismissed for making up quotes, and embroiled in a scandal involving a plot to assault another journalist. He parlayed wealth and connections into a cheap form of D-list celebrity and used that as a springboard for his political career. No hard work for Johnson. He possesses the casual racism and homophobia of an old school aristocrat as his ugly cracks about ‘bumboys’ and ‘watermelon smiles’ prove.

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Sleep with Johnson and you’re apparently rewarded. Remember Jennifer Arcuri? What more kingly behaviour is there than the doling out of favours to – I hesitate to use the word but given we’re in the territory of the Bourbon royal family I will – your ‘mistress’.

In parliament, he ensured the end of his predecessor Theresa May – an event of fitting foreshadowment in terms of regicide given where Johnson stands today – after backing Brexit not out of ideological belief (which at least one could respect) but because he saw it as the fastest route to power.

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The behaviour of his administration has been as corrupt and debased as any royal court – with minions and their cronies enriching themselves at the expense of the people. He selects obedient courtiers and bootlickers not public-minded ministers.

He and his wife behave as if the headless spirit of Marie Antoinette is their mentor. Their Downing Street flat was a “John Lewis furniture nightmare” and the couple wanted a ‘high society haven’. Johnson gets £30,000 a year to spend on his flat – far above the average wage. But that wasn’t enough. Cue scandal surrounding huge donations for refurbishments.

Johnson even out-kinged the real Royals, as Downing Street partied while the Queen mourned her dead husband.

Then there’s ‘cake’ with all its symbolism of sneering royal excess. We’ve birthday cake at a lockdown party for Johnson organised by his wife, now nicknamed, entirely fairly, Carrie Antoinette. Johnson’s interior designer was also at the bash. If Johnson has any political ideology then it’s ‘cakeism’: he infamously said his view on cake was that he should both have it and eat it. Not long ago ‘cakeism’ seemed, to anyone with sense, a representation of Johnson’s absurd Brexit policy, but it is in fact a representation of his view of us: he can have his cake and eat it, while we get none.

Put simply: Johnson partied while Britons died. He set the rules – and let the rest of us suffer under them, while he did as he pleased.

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If history tells us that those who’d dare to be kings are always brought low, then history also shows that kings who fail receive even harsher treatment. In ancient societies, when things went wrong – when the crops rotted or some neighbouring tribe got the upper hand – the people had only one person to blame: their king. If the ruler was lucky, they were ‘scapegoated’ – exiled into the wilderness as an offering to appease angry gods. If they weren’t lucky, then a quick bang to the head with a club addressed the need for sacrifice and renewal.

Thankfully, we don’t live in ancient times, or banish kings or bang them over the head with clubs, but rulers who dare rise above us, or rulers guilty of breaking and disrupting order, of bringing chaos and disgrace on the people, still need to go.

There’s nothing much great about Britain anymore. We’re a small archipelago that once had an empire and now struggles to find a role in the world. However, psychologically, to save what remains of this nation, we have to experience renewal. Order needs restored. The nation has to be shown that rules really do apply to us all. That means Johnson must fall. If he doesn’t, then Britain becomes ever more diminished, ever more debased, and laws become meaningless. Once that happens, we’re done.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald

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