J’accuse...! David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson
Your background, associations and rivalry has led to our country’s misfortune. Early in life, you became partners-in-crime with George Osborne and Boris Johnson. You continued this after you entered public life. Between the three of you, you have caused a calamity through misplaced belief and childish rivalry.
Clearly, you would not have become Prime Minister if you had attended a comprehensive in Hull. Not because of the perfectly adequate education you would have received. But because someone of your abilities needed the connections and Eton schooling provided by your background to reach the levels you did. Without these advantages, a respectable career in middle-management and anonymous life as an affable (albeit apparently short-tempered) family man beckoned.
The tragedy of our country is that its ongoing thrall to social class meant this scenario did not come to pass. Instead, unlike most others who idly think they “would be good at it”, you were able to attain the post of Prime Minister, a role you were manifestly under-equipped to fulfil.
Worse, your upbringing burdened you with insouciance and a sense of entitlement. This handicap led you to believe it was reasonable to call a nation-risking referendum on the UK’s EU membership to solve a personally irritating problem of Conservative party management.
Your arrogant assumption that it would all work out fine – because, after all, things always do for you – led you to proceed without considering the possible consequences. You did not bother to do the hard graft of building relationships in Europe to get a better deal or construct a credible case to persuade the public to support your preferred referendum outcome.
When it came to the referendum campaign, you failed to seduce the voters into disregarding your years of denigrating the EU and believing your sudden assertion that it was the best thing since straight bananas.
Osborne’s and your ineptitude combined disastrously with the UK’s culture of cringing deference to chancers like Johnson. This combination led the country into its disastrous Brexit decision
Meanwhile, your chancellor and friend Osborne shot himself in the foot by claiming Brexit would cause every British household to lose £4,300 a year. Perhaps Osborne loses that much annually down the back of his sofa. But as one Hull woman - who did have the common sense that comes from attending a comprehensive there - pointed out when interviewed in the street, “I’ve never had £4000 to lose.” And thus the credibility of the remain campaign was destroyed at a stroke for less affluent voters.
Your incestuous public schoolboy rivalry with Boris Johnson festered on into middle-aged adulthood. To any detached observer, it is obvious that Johnson has no guiding beliefs or principles beyond his own advancement. His world-view has never expanded beyond the school debating society. Hence, the outcome of the EU referendum was infinitely less relevant to him than the opportunity it provided to get one over on his old dorm room rival.
Johnson’s self-interested support boosted the leave campaign because of his appeal in those comfortable parts of the English Home Counties that can afford to prize vaguely racist tomfoolery over honesty and competence.
Osborne’s and your ineptitude combined disastrously with the UK’s culture of cringing deference to chancers like Johnson. This combination led the country into its disastrous Brexit decision; a disaster that would not have happened had we had an even slightly more diverse and capable leadership.
Perhaps the most galling realisation is that you were right that your Brexit “game” would do you no personal harm. You quickly abandoned the scene of the crime and returned to your estate to live off your inherited wealth. Osborne is pocketing multiple mega paycheques for roles for which he has few apparent qualifications beyond his social status. Johnson, astoundingly, has been promoted to Foreign Secretary whilst continuing to perform as the Conservative Party’s court jester, demeaning one of the great offices of state and diminishing our country’s global stature in the process.
I accuse you of being the author of a diabolical lack of judgement.
I accuse your friend Osborne of a reckless ineptitude and complicity in this disaster for our country.
I accuse your rival Johnson of grotesque and self-absorbed opportunism.
Sadly, whilst you all might be able to prosper, the results of your arrogance and idiocy will cost most of the British people rather more.
With apologies to Emile Zola. We also accuse:
- Paul Dacre and the right-wing press.
- Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
- Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU elite.
- Nigel Farage, cynical rabble-rouser.
- Theresa May and the Tory right.
- Dominic Cummings and Vote Leave.
About the author
Paul Knott began his working life in a hut on Hull's King George Dock before globetrotting for two decades as an unlikely British envoy. His "instructive and funny" (Alan Johnson MP) book about his experiences, "The Accidental Diplomat", is out now.
He is also the Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Sabotage Times and contributes to publications such as The Telegraph, Forty-20 and When Saturday Comes.
All that travel has failed to shift Paul's inherited old Labour instincts.
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