Less than a week is, of course, far too short a time to make a comparison, especially one which will infuriate Boris fans. Who cares? They have their man as PM. They can take a bit of teasing.
So here goes. Our new PM seems to be following in the precise footsteps of the old PM.
- On ascending to No 10, speeches about unity in the country and party.
- A brutal and wholesale clear-out of the old guard to create a Cabinet in their image. (Take that, party unity! You all have to agree with me!!) An element of petty and personal revenge: what did Boris have against Penny Mordaunt, for instance, a Brexiteer whose main fault seems to have been to have supported his opponent? (Yes – the question has answered itself.)
- Some surprising appointments: May appointing Boris (she must be rueing the day) and Boris picking Priti and Raab. (What is it with PMs appointing plainly unsuitable Foreign Secretaries? Even Blair did it with Mrs Beckett. Mind you, in comparison to some of her successors, she seems in retrospect to be a fountain of calm common-sense.)
- The Svengali-like ferocious adviser, there to provide the brains and steel and protection: Cummings now. Timothy and Hill for May.
- The barn-storming first appearance in Parliament as PM. Remember how Mrs May compared herself to Mrs T, with her somewhat lamely delivered “Remind you of anyone?” quip. But it got the cheers, much as Boris’s well-worn attack on Corbyn (itself little more than a rehash of what Gove has said before) did.
- The “Stand Up to the EU” speech – a mish-mash of well-worn tunes: “We Will Not Be Moved” / “No Pasaran”* / “Believe in Britain” etc lightly sprinkled with optimism and determination and belief, like so many Smarties on a cake. If this can be accompanied by suitably ferocious newspaper headlines, ideally with the White Cliffs of Dover somewhere in the picture, so much the better.
- The promises to the poorer / left-behind bits of Britain: a speech from Mrs May about the JAMS and getting rid of “burning injustices” then. Boris now promising to spend money on the poor towns of the North and their transport and social care and so many wonderful things. It is positively Shakespearian in its vaulting ambition: “I will do such things – What they are yet I know not, but they shall be the wonders of the earth.” (I know. They should be the terrors of the earth but that is to be so negative about Brexit and Project Fear-y that a little rewriting of the Bard is surely allowed.)
- The absolute 100% determination – no ifs, buts or doubts – to leave on a specified date. Do or die.
- The visits to adoring fans. Surely not in the case of Mrs May. Well, yes. She was, remarkably it must now seem, very popular when she first became PM. She seemed to have the common touch and be liked by people who were not obvious Tory voters. Her polls were stratospheric. If truth be told, her polls were rather better than Boris’s are now. But give the boy time. It has only been a few days.
- The cast-iron promise not to have a General Election.
- The reaching out to the US. Remember how keen Mrs May was to visit Trump, to hold his hand even and her pathetic wish at the next EU leaders’ meeting to tell fellow European leaders what she had learnt from him, as his new best friend. It was unkind of them not to indulge her. Surely she had learnt so much more than what their own ambassadors were telling them? And now Boris and Trump are, apparently, already negotiating their new trade deal which, Donald assures us, will be 3 times better than what there is now. Boris is fond of his classics. Could someone please play the part of the Roman slave whispering in his master’s ear to remind Boris that with Trump it is “America First“? If a trade deal will be 3 times better it will be 3 times better for the US. That’s the country Trump cares about.
- They even have the same desire to fulfil a childhood ambition: to be “world King” for Boris. And for May? Well, she was reportedly annoyed that Mrs T got to be the first woman PM. Might Britain be better governed if public life was not seen as a form of therapy for childhood slights?
Will this new blond character follow the same story arc as the last one? It will be so exciting, won’t it, waiting to find out?
(*Yeah: I made that bit up. No filthy foreign Commie songs for global Britain. Still, the wartime meme will insist on breaking out and La Pasionaria’s cry that it is better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees should surely be appropriate for a country free at last and not a Vassal State, no sirree.)