With talk of melons, Boris left them abuzz

Foreign Secretary Boris bounced on stage at 12.45pm yesterday at the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce. The crowd was relieved to see him

Boris Johnson did not bother to mention Sir John Major by name. No need. 

When Boris talked about ‘people droning and moaning about the state of the world’ we could all imagine that nasal, queen-hornet Major voice (and the speech that old Jeremiah gave on Monday night when he said Brexit could be a disaster).

Foreign Secretary Boris bounced on stage at 12.45pm yesterday at the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce. The crowd was relieved to see him.

The previous hour had been taken up with a speech of stultifying blandness by Business Secretary Greg Clark, plus an off-the-peg corporate snoozathon from some Facebook salesman.

My goodness, Clark is a dullard. He burbles away in a fruity tone, saying things such as ‘I’d like the Chambers model as a motif of our industrial strategy’ and ‘if something is going to be long term it has to endure’ and ‘commercial values are also civic values’. 

Such pearls are dispensed with round-eyed wonderment, the air of a herald imparting rare and treasurable wisdom – nuggets as though from the great Buddha himself. 

Only when you actually look at your notes afterwards do you realise he has managed to deliver the rhetorical equivalent of cotton wool.

The previous hour had been taken up with a speech of stultifying blandness by Business Secretary Greg Clark. My goodness, Clark is a dullard

I was going to say ‘how did such a fence-sitter ever become a Cabinet minister?’ when I realised that his very ability to say nothing at great length was, of course, what won him his current eminence. 

Political plodders provide padding. They are the mashed-potato dam between genuine statesmanship and the populus. 

No doubt the Senate of had its Greg Clarks and no doubt they were every bit as gripping. 

Boris arrived and at once the mood lifted. Delegates looked at each other with giddy, almost tearful relief.

They had survived Clark’s bombardment of platitudes. The android from Facebook had finally stopped talking.

A smell of lunchtime chicken pie was wafting from the kitchens. It was going to be all right.

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