After a long period of absence euperspectives has chosen a suitably ridiculous Johnson terminology to kick off a new piece of musings on EU happenings. It’s such a shame that those who cover EU affairs all get sucked into the “Brexit” vortex since there are so many interesting and exciting initiatives the EU is powering ahead with which the British population are barely even aware of given the endless Brexit drama being played out in our media. As the European economy begins to pick up pace the EU is making progress on a number of new initiatives, actions and ideas. The EU is very much open for business and looking, inter alia, into tackling digital tax fraud, cutting carbon emissions to meet the Paris Agreement targets and is actively policing corporations intent on establishing monopolies that tilt a free and open market in their favour.
Macron’s Presidential and Parliamentary success has given the EU a fresh sense of purpose and a confidence in its step visibly lacking these past couple of years. Geert Wilders in spite of his grand-standing is no where near a position of power in the Netherlands and it looks like Merkel is set to win a fourth term as Chancellor. The EU appears to have ridden the populist storm and is powering ahead leaving the UK and US far behind as it enters a new, more confident phase. As Jean Quatremer said in an article for The Guardian the European continent, thanks to Brexit and Trump, has built up a robust immunity to any form of populism.
The Tory’s obsessing about Brexit resembles more and more the village idiot entering into a one-way conversation with an imaginary friend.
Which brings me on to our Foreign Secretary and a few words on his imaginary friend “Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel” prone to talking a lot of wiffle-waffle. Anyone who is a fan of “Who do you think you are” may have seen that our Foreign Secretary has German blood coursing through his veins. The Johnson family legend has it that the De Pfeffel’s were an ancient French aristocratic family. BBC research threw-up a slightly different story. It turns out the De Pfeffels, “rather than being long-established aristocrats with roots in the Middle Ages, as Granny Butter had suggested, …. were in fact relatively recent, minor members of the nobility.” Turns out Charles De Pfeffel had a propensity to play a little bit fast and loose with the truth, as indeed did his wife Caroline De Pfeffel who claimed to be a Von Rothenburg. A name which has never appeared on record in the Bavarian register of noble families and who was, in fact, the illegitimate daughter of an actress and a Prince.
Who cares? Family histories are entertaining because they are in the past and the descendants can not do anything about the actions of their forefathers. There is, however, a thread here that is worth noting. Mr Johnson is quite clearly in favour of continuing the great De Pfeffel tradition of applying a Baron Munchausen attitude towards the truth. Could it be that our Foreign Secretary has been conversing for a very long time – certainly since his time as a journalist in Brussels in the early 1990’s – with an imaginary chum whom he calls Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel? There is evidence of this. Boris Johnson did once suggest that David Cameron was talking a lot of “piffle” which sounds uncannily like Pfeffel-Pfaffel – and in 2007 he suggested that allegations that he had had an affair with a society lady was “an inverted pyramid of piffle.” Need more be said? I rest my case. This could also explain why Mr Johnson has a penchant for chummy, plummy words such as “mugwump” and “whiff-whaff” – the kind of language only a Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel could make up.
Rather like Baron Munchausen, BoJo’s imaginary Baron Pfeffel-Pfaffel is urging our Foreign Minister on to make ever more wildly exaggerated and fantastical claims. Look no further than Boris Johnson’s rambling, incoherent 4000 word long piece in The Telegraph last week, “My vision for a bold, thriving Britain enabled by Brexit” which to the EU negotiating partners really did read like a lot of wiffle-waffle.
If Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel is indeed BoJo’s imaginary friend then this could explain why Boris Johnson has such a fondness for elaborate, loquacious and roguish claims disputed by experts but beloved of his sizeable fan-base who can’t get enough of a good yarn. Baron Munchausen claimed his horse was mended with laurel leaves when it was accidently cut in two, that he hitched a ride on a cannon-ball with dignity and finesse, that he travelled to the moon and back, that he was swallowed alive by a huge fish in the Mediterranean and lived to tell the tale and that he fought off a 40 foot crocodile.
Ridiculous of course but no more and no less ridiculous than many of Mr Johnson’s wild, unsubstantiated claims such as riding a red bus to ram home the lie that the UK pays EUR 350 million a week (since revised to “roughly” EUR 350 million) to the EU, that Britain will conclude hugely profitable and advantageous trade deals within months of leaving the EU, that German car manufacturers will be down on their knees begging Merkel to seal the deal with an independent UK and that the Italians are so desperate to flog their Prosceco to a newly flourishing and independent British isles they’ll give the UK terms better than anyone else currently enjoys in the EU. Amidst all the glories that are due to come our way Baron de Pfeffel-Pfaffel has also conveniently conjured up an imaginary enemy a bit like Holms’ Moriarty. A sinister, shadowy, intsransparent cabal of unaccountable EU elitists ready to scupper Britain’s glorious destiny of ever greater success and victories.
Like the swooning society ladies of 18th century Germany who hung on every word Baron Munchausen spoon fed them, Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel spoon feeds his social media fan-base and Telegraph reader a sugary-opiate of ever more fantastical little porkies which is proving to be hugely effective at calming jittery nerves and putting off the day of reckoning when decisions have to be made. Baron Munchausen was a purely fictional character – entertaining because he was not real. It is with much regret that I have to inform you Baron de Pfeffel-Pfaffel, an imaginary friend of a wildly erratic individual, is all too real and ready to do real damage to our country’s economy, reputation and freedoms.
Not that much will change anytime soon. Those conned into believing Baron De Pfeffel-Pfaffel’s little fibs are still enamoured with him, his narrative and his vision of a glorious, post Brexit triumph. To those of us living outside of this comforting, warm fictional world it is dark days indeed.