Opinion: Which egomaniacal movie character does Boris Johnson remind you of?

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

After a week of political high drama fit for the big screen, the UK Prime Minister meets a sticky end, says Hanna Flint

Saturday 9 July 2022   By Hanna Flint

Cinema has served up a fair few egomaniacs over the decades and you can almost always guarantee that they will get knocked off their pedestal at some point in the film. Tony Montana, Gordon Gecko, that Kuzco guy from The Emperor’s New Groove. So, there’s really no surprise, or greater joy, to witness a character like Boris Johnson finally, FINALLY, get his comeuppance. 

Yes, after what feels like an eternity, but has really been quite a short amount of time when it comes to holding the office of Prime Minister, the Conservative leader has resigned. With 1,079 days under his belt before delivering his resignation speech, only three other PMs have had shorter terms. It certainly must hurt to know just how unsuccessful his tenure has been.

Johnson wanted to be ‘world king’ when he was a kid, and while he didn’t become a global ruler, he did manage to wangle his way up into presiding over a not-so-united kingdom, surviving several scandals until this week, falling foul to a man rather poignantly called Chris Pincher. 

The Tory deputy chief whip tendered his own resignation after being accused of groping two men at the party’s private members’ club in London. Pincher said in his letter that he ‘drank far too much’ and ‘embarrassed himself’, and after the allegations were leaked to renowned British tabloid, The Sun, he embarrassed the Prime Minister, too. 

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

Not that Johnson has ever exhibited much shame for his own misdeeds. After securing a landslide General Election victory in 2019, he’s managed to survive an appallingly handled Brexit, a disastrously managed pandemic – where ministers stand accused of allowing their mates to profiteer from the health crisis as well as being involved in his own lockdown party lies – and a vote of no confidence. 

He even managed to get away with ridiculous spending on his wife Carrie Johnson’s refurbishing efforts in their residence at No 11 after it was revealed a Tory donor was funding it. We now know it cost around £200,000 when £30,000 is the annual budget for renovations. But it was a pinch too far when it became clear Downing Street had knowledge of the former deputy chief whip’s past allegations of misconduct, prior to the 29 June event, when Johnson appointed him to the position and his pals finally dropped him to avoid the stench. 

Yet even after dozens of his closest allies, like Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, pulled their support and reportedly told him his time was up, Johnson refused to leave. And even now he’s refusing to leave office for three months, which many believe is because he wanted to host his wedding at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residency. In the words of Drag Race UK’s Tayce: the cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity and the gumption.

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

Of all the cinematic egomaniacs, Boris reminds me most of Sean Connery’s Daniel Dravot in The Man Who Would Be King. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name, Dravot is a sneaky British soldier with the Machiavellian plan to insert himself as a ruler of a nation beyond the Indian frontier. He succeeds in Kurdistan and convinces the natives to worship him as a god after he survives an arrow shot when it hits a medal over his chest. 

Well, I don’t think the UK sees Johnson as a god as much as he does, but he’s similarly managed to hoodwink the population on both the left and right into thinking he’s some lovable rogue when it seems quite clear he’s only secured the highest seat of power for personal gain. And he’s certainly survived several arrows during his reign. But like Dravot, it was a sex scandal that finally brought him down. ‘The Son of God goes forth to war, a kingly crown to gain,’ he sings before his brutal death. ‘His blood red banner streams afar: who follows in his train?’

The leadership train for Boris is at the end of the line. Them’s really are the breaks.

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

The Ons and only

There aren’t too many Tunisians whose names have become world-renowned. Fourteenth century philosopher and economist Ibn Khaldun, fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa and actor Marwan Kenzari are a few who appear on that shortlist, but Wimbledon has sent Ons Jabeur straight to the top.

The Tunisian tennis player has managed to battle her way into the Grand Slam final and it is a historic occasion. Not only is she the first Tunisian to make it to the Wimbledon final, but also the first Arab and African player to boot.

‘Tunisia is connected to the Arab world, it’s connected to the African continent. It’s not like Europe or any other countries,’ she said after beating Tatjana Maria in the semi-final in three sets. ‘I want to see more players from my country, from the Middle East, from Africa. I think we didn’t believe enough at a certain point that we can do it. Now I’m just trying to show that. Hopefully people are getting inspired.’ 

As a British Tunisian who cares quite a bit about Arab representation on screen, seeing Jabeur succeed on TV has certainly inspired me. Yalla, Ons. Yalla

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