Magazine article The Spectator

Boris Johnson's Diary: A Lean and Hungry Brexit

Magazine article The Spectator

Boris Johnson's Diary: A Lean and Hungry Brexit

Article excerpt

The nice French doctor looked beadily at the screen. There were the results of my tests, in irrefutable detail. They had taken my blood; they had beeped in my ears; they had covered me in painful hair-pulling electrodes, and now there was no use bluffing. I tried to draw her attention to what I conceived was my Hulk-like strength, the blast furnace super bellows of my lung capacity. She wasn't having any of it. There was the key piece of data -- blinking like a Geiger counter. I have really known it, or suspected it, for decades. In the past few months I have had the joy of being back on my bike, and the reality of my physique has been obvious to all the people who have overtaken me; and when I say all, I mean all. There have been moments -- puffing uphill, against the wind -- when I could have been overtaken by a toddler on a tricycle. It's not my tyres. It's not the cycle superhighways -- excellent in every respect. The grim truth is that, excluding my rucksack, I have been carting around 16-and-a-half stone, and there it was on the doctor's screen.

She launched into the catechism. What did I eat? I described the delicious late-night binges of chorizo and cheese. She winced. How much did I drink? We tried to work it out in units. Glasses, pints, bathfuls? She looked suitably appalled. She began to sketch out steps I could take -- and I suddenly felt ashamed. Here I was, a representative of the political class of what is now the fattest nation in Europe and a living embodiment of our state of moral akrasia. Our kids are now so fat that asthma is on the rise. Their parents are so obese that they are starting to die earlier -- for the first time this century -- than the previous generation. We are spending tens of billions of taxpayers' money on the consequences of this national weakness of will. We expect the state to pay for all the premature cancers and cardiovascular diseases we contract as a result of our obesity, to say nothing of stapling our stomachs and liposuctioning our thighs. We have every possible incentive to change, to get a grip, to go for a different and more rewarding and more fulfilling lifestyle. But we are sunk in inertia -- a moral inertia that exactly corresponds to the political inertia of the British ruling class.

We know that we have to make certain changes if we are to leave the EU. We know that we have to get ready -- to be lighter on our feet and more agile, if we are to take advantage of all the freedoms we will gain: the freedom to innovate, the freedom to regulate in the interests of UK firms, the freedom to open up new markets around the world to British goods and services. …

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