A Shakespearean villain laid low by a Christmas quiz | Matt Mohan-Hickson

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!’This line from Richard III is one of the most recognisable Shakespeare quotes and feels extremely relevant right now.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:03 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the public to provide an update on the Covid-19 booster programme, at Downing Street on December 12, 2021. Photo by Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images

We have a man running the country who seems to have been bestowed with the belief that by virtue of his status as having been born into the upper crust of British society, he had some divine right to be prime minister.

It isn’t even like he pulled a sword from a stone, or was gifted Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake.

To badly paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail: ‘Some rich boy going to the right private school is no basis for a system of government.’

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Yet after all the manoeuvring and politicking and back-stabbing, it looks like his stewardship of our country could be brought down by something as mundane as a Christmas quiz.

That would be a delicious twist of the famed British irony.

In fact, if you think about it for half a second (and not much deeper than that) Boris Johnson almost feels like he could be a villain in a Shakespeare play.

He lied and cheated (in the Biblical, 10 commandments kind of way) his way to the top. Betraying the leader of his party and predecessor in Machiavellian fashion to get what he wants.

Before seeing his dream crumble before his eyes and lose his grip on the crown coveted for so long as his own actions finally catch up with him – all the lies finally crashing down like a tidal wave.

For so long, he appeared to be a man who was made of Teflon, able to brush off every lie and every scandal.

But even in Norse mythology, Baldr, whose mother Frigg made every object vow not to hurt him, could be killed by something seemingly unimportant as mistletoe.

Boris Johnson never hid who he was. Perhaps we are collectively able to see past the bluster for the first time.

All it took was something as seemingly unimportant as work Christmas parties and a quiz. Combined with his fatal character flaw, the inability to take responsibility and just apologise, has ballooned this into a potentially career-ending catastrophe.

So, exit stage left Mr Johnson. You will not be missed.

I would love to know the questions in No.10’s quiz...

I can’t help but wonder what questions were on that now infamous Downing Street Christmas Quiz.

Perhaps the first one was: ‘How many lives could we have saved if we had acted sooner in March 2020?’

Or maybe the prime minister started with ‘How many children do I have?’ An almost impossible question to answer.

I should probably be less facetious, since the whole affair has become such a huge scandal because it shows just how much contempt those who govern us have for the rest of the country.

We followed the rules, they thought they didn’t have to.

But unfortunately, I am afflicted with a serious case of being British and that means turning to humour as a coping mechanism.

So feel free to send me your best guesses for questions on that Christmas quiz.

Is Russia peacocking or is this something more serious?

Moving back into the realms of the deeply serious for a moment. I am starting to wonder about how seriously we should be taking the situation with Russia and Ukraine.

Over the weekend I read somewhere that the Russian army had amassed over 90,000 troops on the border.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a series of demands for the West - including a formal renouncement of the 2008 Bucharest summit decision on Georgia and Ukraine.

It does feel like this has gone quite under the radar – what with Omicron and government scandal dominating the news – but I am starting to feel more than a little concerned.

Perhaps this is just Russia peacocking a little bit, but it feels like we should also be facing the possibility they might actually invade a NATO ally in the near future.

And what would that mean? War with Russia? I shudder at the thought. Hopefully I am just being my usually over-concerned self.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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