Boris Johnson’s Thatcher joke was inexplicable - even by his standards

The prime minister’s latest attempt at stand-up comedy won’t lead to a career change - unless it’s a swift exit from Downing Street that he’s looking for

Boris Johnson onboard the Esvagt Alba during a visit to the Moray Offshore Windfarm East, off the Aberdeenshire coast (Photo: PA)

Boris Johnson often gives the impression that he'd much rather be a stand-up comedian or circus clown than prime minister.

Alas, he finds himself in Downing Street, with all this serious 'governing the country' business to contend with.

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Those close to the PM have been whispering that he's growing tired of the gig already. He is, after all, someone motivated by personal advancement rather than political change. And when you've reached the top, on a paltry salary of £161,866 that barely pays for luxury wallpaper, what do you do?

Perhaps he's demob-happy already, because there's little else that could explain his notion that making a gag about Margaret Thatcher closing pits as some kind of environmental innovation would go down well.

During his visit to Scotland, Johnson was hailing his government's progress on transitioning away from fossil fuels to greener forms of power, when he quipped:

“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”

Who knows who the intended audience was, but it certainly wasn't the 'red wall' constituencies which gave him a majority of 80 seats in the 2019 election. The same areas that saw their communities decimated by pit closures in the 1980s.

It also sank like a lead balloon in Scotland, with Nicola Sturgeon quick to seize upon it:

“Lives and communities in Scotland were utterly devastated by Thatcher’s destruction of the coal industry (which had zero to do with any concern she had for the planet). To treat that as something to laugh about is crass and deeply insensitive to that reality.”

Once again, Johnson has put his foot in it.

Yes, he's already shown that he's Teflon. Yes, there will no doubt be some in Tory circles who had a little chuckle, shaking their head at 'Boris being Boris'.

But with his ratings already falling, and rivals circling, you have to wonder what goes on under that blonde mop.

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