Boris Johnson’s Abuse of English


Boris Johnson speaking in his role as Foreign Secretary at Chatham House today continued to use a by now utterly becalmed nautical metaphor, grand gestures to eloquence, and a Shakespearean mishmash of ‘knowing’ quotation to talk complete bollocks.

Answering a question on Brexit, he began by revisiting his previous metaphoric reliance on sailing, here expressing his belief that the EU now has a

‘…fair wind to the idea of themselves discussing the new trade deal…’

Feeling immediately exasperated at the presumed pace of this, wind-aided or no, he added they should now

‘…get on with it…’

However, also immediately struck by the brisk simplicity of this, Boris felt compelled to expand in that ostentatious but preposterous oration he imagines clarifies and solidifies. Working through three hacked-out-of-context Shakespeare quotations, this is how his rhetorical tragic three filled a momentary expression of nothingness:

from Macbeth: ‘I dare not wait upon I would’

from Hamlet: ‘let the native hue of resolution be [misquoted] sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’, [then adding in his own words the somewhat bathetic] ‘or whatever’

from Julius Caesar: ‘there is a current [*misquoted] in the affairs of men’

At which point he realised – though actually I can’t imagine he in fact had a moment of any kind of percipience] that what he said initially was what he meant, so repeated that they [the EU] should

‘…grip it…get on with it!…’


[*] You would have thought with his proclivity to water-bound metaphors he would have recalled the word is tide.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s