Bam! Amid a cacophony of squealing tyres and groaning hydraulics, Boris Johnson burst into JCB’s Staffordshire plant yesterday.
He’d commandeered one of the world-famous digger firm’s beasts bearing the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ and dramatically bulldozed through a polystyrene wall emblazoned with the word GRIDLOCK. Craaassshhh!
As he gingerly stepped from the glass cab, the PM shot us his best ‘yowzers, what on earth have I done?’ grin.
Boris Johnson burst into JCB’s Staffordshire plant yesterday in one of the world-famous digger firm’s beasts
As grand entrances go, even the late, great exhibitionist Liberace’s dainty cheeks might have rouged a tad at such a shameless piece of attention-grabbing.
But lesson No 1 in the Boris Johnson Illustrated Book Of Political Tactics is: When it comes to ramming the message home, nothing – repeat, nothing – trumps a daft stunt for the cameras.
This was the penultimate afternoon of campaigning and by choosing JCB the Tory leader was firmly on home turf. Supreme pro-Brexit territory.
Like the PM, the company’s stately chairman Lord Bamford foresees only sunny uplands once Britain leaves the EU and, as the boss of one the country’s big exporters, is undoubtedly a man worth listening to.
Amid a cacophony of squealing tyres, the Prime Minister burst into the plant bearing the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’
All around were walls adorned with motivational quotes from Lord B reminding workers of the company’s free market ethos. For example: ‘Without our customers or dealers, none of this is possible.’
Warm-up man for the occasion was Chancellor Sajid Javid, who warned of a ‘crisis by Christmas’ should the electorate opt for a Corbyn calamity tomorrow.
Beckoning Boris on stage, the pair collided in a bearish man-hug. Boris gave Saj such a hearty thwack across the back that I thought he’d knocked the wind out of him.
The PM was zingy. Energised. It was as though someone had bulldog-clipped a couple of industrial-sized Varta batteries to his earlobes.
As is to be expected at this stage of the campaign, the throat sounded shingly –though nothing an early night and gargle of hot lemon wouldn’t soothe.
A small slug of Famous Grouse probably wouldn’t go amiss either, though I suspect girlfriend Carrie might not approve.
JCB is one of the greatest companies in the world, Boris declared, surrounded by several gleaming yellow tractors, or as he referred to them, ‘these custard colossi’.
The audience – mainly JCB staff – listened with pricked ears and amused smiles. Say what you like about the PM, he sure can put bottoms on seats.
The Prime Minister delivers a speech during a visit to the JCB Cab Manufacturing Centre, in Uttoxeter, before the general election later this week
He didn’t speak for long. We got the usual fluffy optimism about getting the country moving, unleashing everyone’s potential and ploughing on with the ‘gigabit broadband’ to which he keeps referring.
Anyone who votes for Labour, he said with a hint of venom, threatens to give Britain a ‘Hamas-backing, IRA- supporting, anti-Semite condoner’ as prime minister.
He fielded a few friendly half-volley queries to finish. To an inquiry about whether the new HS2 train link would ever happen, Boris warbled for a bit and said it was the prerogative of any new government to ‘kick the tyres’ of a big infrastructure project.
He didn’t sound mad keen on HS2, if truth be told.
Someone asked if MPs should be allowed to draw salaries if there is another hung Parliament. ‘A particularly brilliant question, in my view,’ Boris spluttered. A hung Parliament, he reminded us, would mean another five years of ‘dither and delay’.
After half an hour, it was time, he said, ‘to go and spread hope somewhere else’. Clearly, he’d forgotten where he was heading. In fact, it was Manchester.
Today is the final full day of electioneering. The final scrum down. And based on what I have witnessed so far, we’re in for 24 more hours of scratching and spitting.
Time for Boris to dig his studs into the ground, ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and drive his team over the line to victory.