Don’t cry for me, sweet Britannia

all memes by Sadie Parker

Here’s a tribute with a difference to our outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson. Well, I say tribute… a review, at least. Hum the tune of “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” as you read. The lyrics have been modified to reflect Boris Johnson’s “achievements” as Britain’s worst prime minister since World War II (according to a recent poll conducted for his former newspaper, The Telegraph).

It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange
When I try to explain how I feel
That I still need your love after all that I’ve done

Johnson intends to milk his time as PM giving speeches at £250,000 a pop, an amount he once described as “chicken feed”, and then hopes to have another shot at being PM. He’ll stay on as an MP though, raking in an £84,000 plus expenses and his £115,000 annual premium for having been a prime minister.

You won’t believe me, all you will see is a liar who screwed you
Although he’s dressed up to the nines
At sixes and sevens with you

Johnson’s cos-play is a reflection of how he would like to be seen: as a man of the people. Many voters were fooled by this act, although with Labour enjoying a 13-point lead in the polls, it seems the scales are (finally) falling from some eyes.

I had to make it happen, I had to cheat
Couldn’t stay all my life down at heel

Looking at hated rivals, having all of the fun

So I cried “freedom”, running around saying I’d get Brexit done

Johnson sold the electorate a brilliant, oven-ready Brexit deal and echoed Theresa May in saying no British prime minister could ever put a border in the                                                                                                     Irish sea. Then he did just that and a few months later told us his oven-ready deal was rubbish and the government should break international law by failing to honour it.

But nothing impressed you at all
I never expected it to

Boris Johnson’s lies have achieved legendary status and have been reported far and wide around the globe. “The big red bus of lies” has now become a trope in the British political landscape.

Don’t cry for me, sweet Britannia
The truth is, I never loved you

Johnson has treated NHS workers as badly as the government of the day treated soldiers returning home after World War I; many wounded and traumatised by the loss of their brothers in arms. The NHS pay rises have been so derisory, they have amounted to pay cuts in real terms for several years now. No wonder 10 per cent of NHS jobs are vacant. It’s not only due to the pandemic. The Tories inherited a waiting list of 2.5 million; by the end of 2019 it had risen to over 4 million after Brexit drove many EU staff away; it now stands at 6.5 million.

All through my wild days, my mad existence
I broke my promise
So keep your distance

Johnson has done everything to keep Britain’s 200,000+ Covid deaths out of the spotlight, including succeeding in getting the Covid inquiry kicked far down the road in the hope that memories will have dimmed, new narratives can be created and the public can be gaslit by client media.

And as for fortune, and as for fame
I could never resist a dame

Johnson’s premiership was dogged by sexual scandals, beginning with revelations that he cheated on his then wife Marina Wheeler for four years with American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, bunged her public money and took her on trips she did not have security clearance for while he was London mayor. It later emerged he also cheated on Ms Wheeler with his now wife Carrie Symonds. An MP allegedly walked in on Ms Symonds performing fellatio on Johnson in his office when he was Foreign Secretary. She must have done a good job, because Johnson then inquired about the possibility of appointing Ms Symonds as his chief of staff on a 6-figure salary paid out of the public purse.

Though it seemed to the world that was all I desired
I got found out, so they’re not the solutions they promised to be

The scandal that brought Johnson down was appointing a known sexual predator as deputy chief whip (the position in the Conservative party responsible for ensuring MP-welfare) and then denying to parliament, the press and the public all knowledge of Pincher’s unsuitability for such an office. “Pincher by name, pincher by nature,” the PM was overheard to have said. #PincherGate.

The answer was great for a while
Tory donors’ money loved me
Don’t cry for me, sweet Britannia

Johnson’s greed and hypocrisy were revealed in news that he had overspent the annual £30,000 annual grant of taxpayers’ money given to prime ministers for the upkeep of the Downing Street flat. Johnson’s refurbishment cost around £200,000 and to pay the excess he hit up donors, illegally. His eye-popping £840-a-roll golden wallpaper captured the public’s imagination. But it was #PartyGate that broke the public’s heart with a series of denials, outright lies, legal wrangling, insincere apologies and Tory “dark arts”. These included attempts to create a false equivalence with Keir Starmer who had a meal with staff on the campaign trail within the rules a year later when the same “lockdown” rules did not apply.

Don’t cry for me, sweet Britannia
The truth is, I never loved you
All through my wild days, my mad existence
I broke my promise
So keep your distance

Johnson’s “levelling up” policy has been utter bull****. Towns Fund millions were diverted away from the poorest towns to Tory marginals. Per-person public spending in the north has declined by two-thirds since 2019. Conservative austerity policies since 2010, which have cut grants to councils, have resulted in council spending per person dropping by £388 in England overall, but by £413 in the north. Funds promised to replace EU regional funds do not even come close to matching them. In short, the “levelling up” policy is a big con – all marketing, no substance.

As to the Brexit promise to “cut EU red tape” to unleash Britain’s potential, the #RawSewage scandal with our rivers and seas awash with 1970s levels of effluent in just 6 years since the Brexit vote shows how EU regulation protected us and gave us a higher quality of life. The EU wasn’t holding us back. It is Johnson’s government that has taken us back to being the dirty, sick man of Europe.

Don’t cry for me, sweet Britannia
The truth is, I never loved you
All through my wild days, my mad existence
I broke my promise
So keep your distance

After the announcement of the energy price cap rise in the spring, the government had to be dragged kicking and screaming by opposition MPs, money expert Martin Lewis and the public into responding in a way that was proportionate to the scale of the problem.

This time, the government has been absent without leave. A non-government. Johnson tried to pretend exorbitant energy bills are the price we have to pay to help Ukraine in its war against Russia. He refused to admit that the energy policy of successive Tory governments has been woefully inadequate, that his government, despite several months’ notice of this problem, has done nothing, or that it didn’t have to be this way. France (energy price capped at +4 per cent) and Germany (energy prices up by +23 per cent) are cases in point.

Have I said too much?
There’s nothing more I can think of to say to you

What will Johnson’s legacy be?

  • A new PM and a cabinet even worse than his, because he surrounded himself with third-rate loyalists, keeping talent and anyone who challenged him away from power and out of the spotlight.
  • A trade war with the EU, if Liz Truss prioritises rabid ideology over pragmatism and presses on with her alarming Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which gives the UK government leave to break international law, and will trash trust in Britain and ancient alliances in consequence.
  • The possible break-up of the UK union, with a race as to who will be first to leave, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
  • The diminishment of British democracy, which may never recover from the damage Johnson has inflicted;
  • The undermining of the rule of law;
  • The destruction of trust in politics.
  • A poorer populace, with lower standards in water, food and healthcare than their European counterparts, with fewer rights, freedoms and opportunities too, and far more polarised than in 2016, with the divisions Johnson created and encouraged now cemented into the British psyche.

But all you have to do is look at me to know
That every word is true…