The speech Boris might have given (but can’t)

by Nick Bowers | 09.06.2019

Let us imagine, for a moment, that Boris had backed Remain. He announces he is due to deliver a keynote speech. He is still a popular figure having “stuck to his guns” since 2016. The press cadre pack the room and a hush descends as the tousle-haired,  shirt-tailed, blond, Churchill-discipled, classicist-manqué approaches the lectern. This is what he says…

“Leavers, Remainers, countrymen lend me your ears. We stand at a crossroads in our history. The great Gordian knot of Brexit has bound, tangled and snared our great country like some gargantuan Japanese weed – coarsening our relationships, stifling our businesses, embarrassing us before allies and giving succour to our enemies, draining our nation of its very life force.

The knot must be undone, the weed must be scythed at root. Brexit must end. So, in the spirit of a One Nation Conservative and as some political magpie, I steal a glittering jewel of pithiness and say to you all: ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.

These past three years, I have sat on the backbenches of the Mother of All Parliaments warning of the chaos which would ensue. I have been cast as a Jeremiah, or even a Judas by some, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have only my country’s interest at heart. I understand how Churchill must have felt watching Chamberlain weakening and sapping the nation, stripping us of our pride.

We were united then in defence of, and in league with, the great democracies of Europe and we shall be again. Ladies and gentlemen, we must remain at the strategic heart of our continent. A full-throated, committed member of the European Union.

We cannot allow the responsibility for this most noble of enterprises to fall only to the Germans or, heaven forfend, the French. We Brits once more must rush to the aid of a reforming Europe – a vehicle for our global ambitions – and be a bridge to our great ally the United States.

We must be wary of the tide of populist nationalism. We need only look to the 1930s in Europe as our coughing canary. The popinjays of populism must be defeated – dried as husks in the harsh sunlight of British pragmatism as Cromwell and Mosley were desiccated in bygone years.

Let us summon the spirit of Cable Street. All are welcome here, all will be cherished and all will be defended. All will be given the opportunity to be British citizens.

To those in the neglected cities, towns and villages, I say this. We need not seek to blame others. But we must come together as a nation and deliver to you the infrastructure and community that you deserve. I will pledge to make this happen.

Fellow citizens, I stand before you today as a unifying candidate for the leadership of my party and our country.”

….but Boris cannot deliver this speech because he now stands behind a wall – the wrong side of his own beliefs. The wrong side of history. What a waste.

Nick Bowers is chair of the think tank Radix. This column originally appeared on its website.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

4 Responses to “The speech Boris might have given (but can’t)”

  • Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite funny as the description of something that unfortunately never happened. But is it really support for the quest to secure a second referendum or stop Brexit altogether?

  • I have a sneaking suspicion that if Boris had backed Remain the speech would be unnecessary. Brexit wouldn’t be happening and we would all be complaining about Prime Minister Osborne’s latest austerity measures.

  • Whilst I really enjoyed the idea of this speech (well written too!), I rather fear that it would not be one that would get him elected as leader of the current Tory party. The 1922 Committee acts like it is the cabinet – woe betide any leader that defies them and the ERG is just a bunch of sociopaths, hellbent on furthering their own personal interests. The Tory press are each backing their favourites – those debts will have to be repaid.

    Brexiteers can no longer defend an argument for leaving the EU (they’ve all been comprehensively disproved) and now simply claim that questioning a three-year-old referendum result is an affront to democracy. Even a speech of hard truths such as this, I fear, would fall on deaf ears.

  • I too suspect that if the duplicitous Johnson had backed Remain then the result of the referendum would have been different. This dishonest and corrupt character has a lot to answer for.