The Churchill factor: Boris would rather everyone talked about Winston

Otto English is the pen name used by Andrew Scott, a writer and playwright based in London.

LONDON — Boris Johnson is at his happiest when he’s talking about Winston Churchill, so perhaps it’s no surprise he jumped on the opportunity to defend his hero.

Talking about Churchill — whose statue in Parliament Square U.K. media suggested was under attack — beats talking about the coronavirus pandemic, or inequality, or Dominic Cummings’ lockdown transgressions, or the myriad other issues making life difficult over at No. 10.

But in trying to divert attention, Johnson may be digging himself into yet another hole.

There’s no real threat to the great man’s effigy, of course. Despite all the sound and fury, no one has actually called for it to be removed. Doing so would be nothing short of political hari-kari. Churchill remains undoubtedly Britain’s best-known, most respected and arguably best-loved prime minister. For better or worse, he is our national hero and there is no capital to be gained in demanding his statue go.

Any suggestion that rogue #BlackLivesMatter protesters might try to do so anyway is likewise preposterous. Parliament Square is the most comprehensively guarded public space in Europe, and you would need heavy-duty machinery to make much more than a dent in the 4-meter-high solid bronze effigy.

Most Britons still view the Empire through rose-tinted spectacles.

But logic and reason have long departed these Brexit British Isles, and as the confected row has intensified in recent days an increasingly embattled Johnson chose to enter the fray.

 »