Sketch: Boris Johnson readies for phony war on tightly controlled Scottish visit

It’s war folks – well of a sort. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his Brexit “war cabinet”, though quite who the UK is at war with (perhaps itself?) was not made clear.

The Prime Minister at Faslane.  (Jeff J Mitchell / Pool via AP)
The Prime Minister at Faslane.  (Jeff J Mitchell / Pool via AP)
The Prime Minister at Faslane. (Jeff J Mitchell / Pool via AP)

No matter – when getting ready to face a foe where better to head than Scotland and the Faslane nuclear submarine base?

There’s something about Conservative party leaders and an irresistible pull towards expensive military gadgetry. It may even have given Johnson and Ruth Davidson something to bond over when they met later in the day. She does like a photo opportunity in a tank after all.

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And it’s certainly war – of a sort – between the pair. Ms Davidson backed anyone but Boris during the leadership campaign and has since categorically rejected any idea of leaving the EU with no deal. Meanwhile Mr Johnson ignored her advice on who should be Scottish secretary, dumped David Mundell and has been emphatic that 31 October will be the date the UK leaves the EU – come hell or high water.

At Faslane yesterday there was little of the latter, but who knows what awaited the new Prime Minister when he went below deck on the naval sub HMS Victorious.

Never shy of comparing himself to the former First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, Mr Johnson toured the Vanguard class submarine, of which he is now ultimately in charge. Indeed one of his first jobs in No 10 last week was to sign the Letter of Last Resort.

Perhaps he wore a naval cap at a jaunty angle? Perhaps he had a squint through the periscope (if such things still exist) and reeled off all the nautical terms he’d learned that morning.

Or perhaps the Prime Minister has ditched such antics. Who knows? For a man who loves publicity, this first stop on his day trip to Scotland was behind razor wire and stringent security. The press pack was kept well away, in a nondescript room with a green door – inadvertently answering that old Shakin Stevens’ question perhaps.

“But look”, he said, “you were all there in Aberdeen when I was welcomed by a hen party no less”. “No”, the reporters said. That was private too.

He couldn’t escape the crowds, however, at Bute House as he met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon later in the day. Pro-indy, pro-EU (and even one pro-Boris) signs were in abundance.

Quite what the pair said however – well one can only assume their war of words, at least, is not over.