Boris Johnson, history man

Writing a biography of Churchill is the next step in his campaign to convince everyone he’s prime minister material. Richard Evans shakes his head:

Anyone who has the time or energy to press a couple of keys on a computer to look up “tank,” “RAF,” “welfare state” or even “the Second World War” on Wikipedia will see Boris’s sweeping claims vanish in a cloud of inconvenient facts… Johnson doesn’t weigh up policies and ideas with any care or penetration. If he doesn’t like them, he dismisses them as “rot,” “tripe,” “loopy,” “bonkers,” “barmy” or “nuts”; their advocates and practitioners as “loonies,” “plodders,” “Stilton-eating surrender monkeys,” and so on…

Churchill, we learn, was “mustard keen on gas” as a weapon in the First World War. He was “the large protruding nail on which destiny snagged her coat.” Young Tories “think of him as the people of Parma think of the formaggio Parmigiano. He is their biggest cheese.” And Chamberlain’s “refusal to stand up to Hitler” was “spaghetti-like” (clearly Boris is rather fond of Italian food). The book reads as if it was dictated, not written. All the way through we hear Boris’s voice; it’s like being cornered in the Drones Club and harangued for hours by Bertie Wooster.

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