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It’s not all about greed, Boris

Pippa Fowles/Getty Images

What was Boris Johnson thinking, asks Iain Martin in The Times, telling a Zoom call of Tory MPs that the UK’s vaccine triumph was down to “greed”? Why channel that vulgar emblem of “nasty capitalism”, Gordon Gekko, at a time like this? Was he bragging that he’d saved the country from Corbynism or, as Politico reported, did he spot someone enjoying a bacon butty and the word “greed” just popped into his head?

The truth is simpler. He was joking. Boris “lives to joke”. It’s his schtick. Clowning around is also strategic: it cheers supporters and enrages opponents, leading them to make fatal errors. It worked for Brexit, but it’s not an approach suited to the row over vaccines. Joking about the unfettered greed of perfidious Albion isn’t going to help secure doses when Europe already thinks we’ve grabbed too many. It risks handing the EU’s incompetent leadership political cover and ceding the moral high ground. His remark is also silly because it wasn’t greed at all. Collaboration between an enlightened private sector and the NHS is what did it. Kate Bingham, the real hero of the vaccine story, was working for free. It’s frustrating, and the PM is educated enough to know better. For the sake of a daft joke, he has given his enemies a weapon. 

Read the full article here.