Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson, who made a flying visit to Estonia on Saturday, centred around visiting Estonian, British and other NATO troops at Tapa base and accompanied by his Estonian counterpart Jüri Ratas (Centre), has a career behind him politics, and before that journalism, based on, and centrally characterized by, lies, including about the number of children he has had, and which would take a week to enumerate just from his tenure as foreign minister, according to an opinion piece in investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress.
The article (link in Estonian) by Erik Moora dates from July 24, the day Johnson was appointed prime minister by the Queen after winning a Conservative Party leadership election triggered by the resignation of Theresa May, starts off with the smoked kippers incident as a concrete example of the U.K. premier's mendacity, where Johnson waved a bag of the same during the Conservative Party leadership race as a way of pointing out the stranglehold of EU regulations – even though the kippers had come from the Isle of man, not part of either the EU or the U.K.*
This slip-up, which made Johnson a laughing stock worldwide, Moora said, was but the latest incident in a long career of lying, including his time as a journalist (during the 1990s-ed.) at U.K. dailies the Times – which he was fired from for fabricating a quote – and the Daily Telegraph, where as Brussels correspondent he was elevated to an example of wit and cynicism for all, Moora writes, whereas in fact he lied on a weekly basis in his column about Brussels, the EU, and its regulations – about the dimensions and shape of items such as condoms, coffins and bananas, for example.
This playing mountebank, the article says, helped to distort the British public's perception of the EU on the back of his popularity, even if he did not actually want to leave the union, and found the leave result at the 2016 referendum a complete surprise – having penned two pieces arguing both sides of the matter and ditching the pro-remain one to run with the pro-leave article, Moora says, in an effort to hedge his bets on how the referendum result panned out.
The piece argues that in spite of all this, a feel-good factor and being somewhat chameleon-like in his image, from cosmopolitan during his time as London mayor (2008-2016), to working-class hero in the Brexit era – even though his Eton and Oxford background would belie the latter – all serve to keep Johnson popular, possibly even in Estonia, and as such is part of the zeitgeist regardless of whether he avoids doing many interviews (and thus avoids having to blandly lie), which Moora concludes as pointing towards something, though quite what is not clear, rotten about our age.
*The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency and has its own parliament, not subordinate to the U.K. government. It is, however, in a customs union with the U.K. and by extension, the EU.
Editor: Andrew Whyte