Johnson’s incompetent – and so are those who backed him | Letters

Rafael Behr’s verdict on the prime minister is compelling (The Tories said we could have our cake and eat it – now they are stuffed and voters are hungry, 22 December). But I wonder whether we are still in thrall to the alleged charisma of Boris Johnson, even as we reveal its function as a fig leaf.

Behr claims, for example, that “Boris Johnson rose to the top by getting people to like him. His problems are the result of them subsequently getting to know him.” Though this makes sense superficially, in fact it lets too many people off the hook.

There must be many hundreds of thousands of us with only an armchair acquaintance of Johnson who were thoroughly unconvinced of his alleged competence; who needed only his pre-political CV to gauge his character; who needed only a glance at the reckless, destructive, unabashed indifference with which he discharged the one ministerial position he held (and lost) as foreign secretary, to know his appeal had all the magnetism of a catastrophic black hole.

Behr’s claim for the erstwhile supporters of Johnson is redolent of the frantic back-covering manoeuvres deployed by the many friends of that former would-be mayor of London and darling of the Tories, the disgraced peer Jeffrey Archer. He, too, was a proponent of monumental lies too numerous to mention.

It just is not credible for anyone to claim ignorance of Johnson’s obvious flaws, however enamoured they may have been with his charms.

It took a prison sentence for the party to concede that its peerless fundraiser Jeffrey Archer was a fraud. Why on earth should we entertain the idea that enduring two years of misery was necessary to discover shortcomings in Johnson that were obvious, palpable and painfully apparent from the start?
Paul McGilchrist
Colchester, Essex

Thank you, Rafael Behr, for such a brilliant critique of Boris Johnson. A different cakeism did for Marie Antoinette – let’s hope that it does the same for him.
Linda Karlsen
Whitstable, Kent

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