One of my early portrayals of Boris Johnson, before I’d rendered the caricature down to a minimal mop of vision-impairing blond hair complete with a big gob and Pinocchio nose. Here he is the morning after the EU referendum with his Brexit bedfellows, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove, having successfully screwed the nation.
It was always my opinion that the only objective of Boris – who allegedly had childhood dreams of becoming “World King” – was merely to gain power, even if that meant destroying the country in the process just so he could be leader of the remaining shit heap. This was published before Johnson had actually become Prime Minister, so my prediction wasn’t far off…
From those halcyon days early on in BJ’s leadership – before Covid, Partygate and all the other ‘gates’ that were yet to come – where he was just merely piggybacking onto the Queen to unlawfully prorogue Parliament.
As we now reach the prolonged end of yet another Tory leadership battle – where the dozen or so people in the Conservative membership get to choose the next Prime Minister – this cartoon takes us back to the previous one in 2019. It all got a bit bizarre when the subject of past drug-taking became a cause célèbre which all candidates were interrogated on. Regardless, Johnson snorted away all the competition in the end.
A cabinet of nodding Yes People. It always seemed the only qualification needed for being on Boris’ top team was just devout loyalty and the willingness to appear on morning news interviews to blow raspberries in answer to questions about whatever the latest scandal was. If you were able to do this, then it didn’t matter how bad you were at your actual job, you’d be an unsackable asset!
Published before the government performed a U-turn on its original pro-child food poverty stance, when they were still rejecting Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals to children from low-income families during school holidays. My intention was to convey what the Government was saying no to in a succinct manner, something cartooning can be a very effective medium for.
There’s something very satisfying as a cartoonist when you have a basic idea that can then be cram-packed full of gags. In this instance they came naturally. The stench of Tory “sleaze” was lingering heavy when this one was published in April 2021, so I depicted various members of the Conservative party as postcards in a phone box offering their services to those who want to party like it’s a Covid lockdown “work event…”
After the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, Britain launched “Operation Warm Welcome”, a scheme to resettle Afghan refugees who had worked with the UK in the past 20 years. It turned out that those who managed to get in on the UK’s limited and chaotic embrace arrived in a country with shortages of… well, just about everything.
Injecting some Wile E Coyote style slapstick for when the Government was accused of letting down its newest cohort of “Red Wall” voters in the North after it scaled back plans to upgrade the region’s rail network. It proved, as had long been suspected, that ‘Levelling Up’ was just another vacuous slogan.
When Johnson’s claims that all those lockdown gatherings at Downing Street were “work events” started to crumble. It wasn’t Partygate that finished Boris’ premiership in the end, but it left him with a mighty hangover.
As a cartoonist, once you’ve been drawing a public figure for long enough and have rendered them down to just a set of lines you could draw with a blindfold on, you can start to be creative with pushing the limits of that likeness and metamorphosis the caricature into all sorts of whimsical forms. Such as this one, where I imagined Boris as a Platinum Jubilee cake, in which all I needed was a blob of yellow custard for the hair, some jam filling for the lips and a protruding candle for that nose. This one also presented an opportunity for lots of pudding puns.
The End (or is it…?)
Signed/unsigned prints of all these cartoons and more are available at: benjenningcartoons.newsprints.co.uk