Richard North, 26/03/2016  
 


There are some who are saying that the Brussels bombing is going to be the make-or-break issue on the referendum, with Mr Cameron having taken a fatal misstep in relying on being more "secure" in the EU as his main pitch.

I'll agree that it's certainly something we need to keep an eye on, but I think it could go either way. There are those who will believe this justifies leaving the EU, while others will argue that we should stay in the EU in order to improve its capability. And then there will be those in the middle, the "undecideds", who don't know one way or another and will wait and see.

In other words – unless the polls tell us something remarkably different – the effect of the bombing is likely to be politically neutral. And, given the notoriously short memories of the electorate, by 23 June what is currently so prominent in the press will be history.

What may have a far more decisive effect are the oppositions' attempts to undermine the credibility of the "leave" campaigns. What we now see Stronger In doing is exploiting the contradictions of the leavers' star spokesman, using the graphic illustrated above, with the caption: "Leave campaigns directly contradict themselves within a matter of days. We can't believe a word they say on Europe".

Given Mr Johnson's propensity for shooting himself in both feet, the likelihood is that this "attack" campaigning is only going to get worse. If, as many of us expect, Vote Leave gets the designation and then adopts Mr Johnson as its "Mr Brexit", we hold out no hope for a successful campaign. The two combined – Vote Leave led by Boris Johnson – means that we lose.

With that, all our efforts and good work will have come to nothing. I simply cannot see our efforts surviving the dual onslaught of Vote Leave's incompetence and Mr Johnson's propensity for self-destruction.

In my view, therefore, since we can no longer affect the course of the designation – with Arron Banks quite clearly having abandoned any attempt at submitting a serious application - the only thing we can do to keep ourselves in the game is to make it as clear as is possible that Mr Johnson is not an acceptable spokesman for the "leave" campaign.

As it stands, the opposition's line is to attack our credibility with the legend: "We can't believe a word they say on Europe". But that message relies on Mr Johnson being the front man. In reality, it is his word we can't believe.

Already we have countered with our own post on Twitter, remarking that we no more believe Mr Johnson than they do, but he does not represent the campaign. He does not speak in our name.

Distancing ourselves from him even further should not be that difficult, if we focus on the matters at hand. What comes over from even a relatively swift exploration of his career is that the man is not just the occasional "fibber". He is a serial liar who has made a profession out of lying.

Sacked from his first job in journalism as a writer for fabricating element of a story for The Times, and lying about its source – fabricating quotes to give his lies authenticity - he went on to join the Telegraph where he made his speciality the invention of Euro-myths. With not the slightest attempt to convey the truth, he wrote numerous stories on the adverse effects of EU legislation. They were all quite deliberate lies.

That Mr Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee should have caught him out on a brace of Euro-myths should, therefore, come as no surprise. Fabricating these myths is what Johnson has been doing for much of his career.

Although tarnished with a claim that he agreed to help an old school friend arrange to beat up a journalist, he has nevertheless enjoyed a spectacular (and profitable) career in journalism and politics, even surviving another sacking, this time by his boss Michael Howard after lying to him about an affair.

It was then that the classic Johnson technique of erecting a wall of extravagant bluster to distract from his lying came into high profile, after he dismissed a Sunday Times story revealing his affair as an "inverted pyramid of piffle".

As Mayor of London, Mr Johnson remained a frequent employer of the lie, attracting the attention of an Appeal Court judge for having been untruthful in his public statements – undoubtedly for political advantage. Also attracting even the wrath of Sir Howard Davies, head of the independent Airports Commission, for his lies, Mr Johnson extended his skills to lying on Question Time in order to score political points.

What is evident about Mr Johnson when he lies, though, is that he doesn't give the same signals that one sees in normal people when they are caught out. Instead of shame or embarrassment, we get the hallmark aggressive, outraged bluster, which conveys the air of having been unjustifiably wronged. There is, in that respect, something of the sociopath about the man, so it is perhaps unsurprising that so many people are taken in by him.

Strictly speaking, Mr Johnson might not thus be a liar – if he is genuinely incapable of distinguishing truth from falsehood. But either way, he is totally unsuitable for a prominent (or any) post in the leave campaign. Whether technically a liar or not, you can't believe a word he says.






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