Do or die: this is Boris’s Falklands War, and it’s win at all ...


Do or die: this is Boris’s Falklands War, and it’s win at all costs

It's not all about Brexit as his staff at No 10 prove to be anything but amateurish, lackadaisical or lazy

Allister Heath

When Winston Churchill was asked whether Downing Street personnel could have a week’s holiday for Christmas, he declined immediately. It was 1940 and Churchill, “surprised” by the request, explained that he planned to work “continuously”. Staff were only allowed time off to attend Divine Service, and Churchill wished them “a busy Christmas and a frantic New Year”.

He only took eight days’ holiday between the start and end of the war, and even then had cables delivered on at least some of those days, as Andrew Roberts recounts in his wonderful biography. Assistants would go home at 6am, before being back on duty by 10am; cabinet meetings were routinely held well after midnight. There was a war, and it had to be won.

It is no secret that Boris Johnson admires Churchill: he, too, wrote a paean to the great man, and (perhaps too obviously) would love, in time, to be seen as his 21st-century incarnation, a thought that used to amuse his opponents but now infuriates them. It would, of course, be preposterous even to begin to equate the UK’s present political and constitutional crisis with World War 2, humanity’s darkest hour. But the No 10 operation’s Stakhanovite work rate, its extreme centralisation of power, its obsession with military history, psychology and thinking, its determination to force the lumbering British state to move more nimbly, all confirm that it is acting as if they, too, were in the midst of a real, existential conflict...

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email or call 0860 52 52 00.