On Tuesday 23 July 2019, Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative & Unionist Party, and Prime Minister of the UK (the 20th schooled at Eton.) Due to the way parliamentary democracy operates, his victory resulted from 92,153 votes cast by his party's membership, representing not only 0.13% of the UK electorate, but the narrowest of demographics (97% white, 70% male, 40% over the age of 66, and one-in-20 earning over £100,000 per year.)
Always more of an extrovert than his predecessor Theresa May (unless Abba was playing), Johnson has long been accused of employing a superficial veneer of charm, coupled with choreographed eccentricity (during the above London Olympics stunt when he 'got stuck' on a high-wire, it transpired this was arranged, ensuring headlines around the world featuring 'plucky Bojo,' a politician who relished laughing at himself.) This clownish persona has served him well. Articles he wrote for the Daily Telegraph in the early 90s seemed straight from a satirical publication like The Onion, containing outlandish warnings about EU bureaucrats imposing straight bananas or 'one-size-fits-all' condoms on Britain. If he reveals an inability to grasp basic facts while being grilled by political interviewers, this is laughed off. Boris is being Boris.
Where Tommy Robinson and his ilk are reviled for racist uttering in a working-class accent, Johnson, like that other plummy-voiced bigot, Prince Philip (with his talk of 'slitty-eyed' Chinese) is able to denigrate minorities at will and get away with it. As with the Duke of Edinburgh, there is a long list of Johnson gaffes, including describing black people as 'piccaninnies' with 'watermelon smiles'; gay people as 'tank-topped bumboys'; Muslim women in burkas looking like letterboxes; and on Scotland: 'government by a Scot is just not conceivable in the current constitutional context.' All just Boris being Boris.
But even his most fervent apologists must agree there are red lines he skirts with reckless abandon. His comment that the police should stop investigating historic pedophile suspects ('money spaffed up a wall') went way beyond curmudgeonly old-Etonian repartee. It was a crass insult to the victims of child abuse. As was his publication of an article smearing the 96 Hillsborough victims while he was editor of The Spectator In 2004.
With such a scattershot approach, where self-deprecation, hyperbole and banter are effortlessly interwoven with more offensive opinions on ethnicity, denying someone's suitability for high office in the UK on the grounds of Scottishness is yet another example of something which he can quickly dismiss as high jinks or irony or a skit or one of the other terms honed at the Bullingdon Club dinners.
There's nothing remarkable about Johnson's patronising dismissal of Scots. Mistrust of a nation which hasn't given his party a majority since the 1950s is ingrained in Home Counties Tories. This attitude has been compounded by Brexit, overwhelmingly rejected north of the Border, but bulldozing ahead by 31 October, with or without a deal, because Johnson has staked his political reputation on it. And 63% of the Tory members who voted for him have admitted they'd rather the UK broke-up as long as Brexit remains the number one priority.
All eyes on Halloween, then.