If he wasn’t Johnson’s fall guy, Raab would be up the creek without a paddleboard

ccording to the movies, a dead body can be used as a pretty much bulletproof human shield. You know the kind of scene. Under heavy attack, a character grabs the nearest corpse to hand and holds it in front of him, successfully using it as a kind of improvised meat armour to absorb gunfire, instead of taking it himself. Is this possible in real life? The popular science show Mythbusters ran a segment on it a few years ago and found that, while you could probably pick up a dead body in a gunfight, the idea that it would stop the bullets from hitting you was completely implausible.

Anyhow, with a hail of criticism bombarding the government from all sides, including its own, courageous big man Boris Johnson will reportedly hold an in-person cabinet meeting next week. Which is nice. It’s been a little irksome for the nation being lectured on the necessity of returning to the office by a government that phoned in its response to the fall of Kabul from a paddleboard.

At that cabinet meeting, the prime minister will gather round him a selection of bullet-ridden corpses – ranging from the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, to the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab – presumably under the impression that holding them in place functions as a useful line of defence for his own personage. Despite months of reshuffle speculation, Johnson’s chronic predilection for surrounding himself with people doing even worse than he is suggests these meat shields will be clung on to until the point of actual disintegration. (In martial terms, “a Hancock”.) 그래서, 예: sad news for future corpses hoping to be promoted sooner rather than later into the position of prime ministerial flesh armour. But I guess that’s showbiz for you.

그래서, 그때, to the continuing three-way briefing carnage between the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. This has now dragged on so long that it is starting to feel like time to ask if our country should really be involved in it at all. If we have to hear one more round of artillery fire from one Whitehall warlord at another, it’s time to formally upgrade this conflict’s classification to “forever war”.

물론이야, Raab is the one most up the creek without a paddleboard, or even a mojito. To put things into perspective, Raab appears to have tired so completely of the bare-knuckle briefing in Westminster that he’s gone for a mini-break in the Middle East. Or diplomatic mission, as his department officially has it. Alas, that same department has a whole lot more to say unofficially, with a series of hilariously unflattering off-the-record lines reported by the Economist probably the pick of the bunch. According to these, Raab is “tightly wound”, “controlling” and “cold”, and has sidelined ambassadors, diplomats and officials in favour of some kind of spad lads’ army, which has failed to build him any significant relationships with global counterparts. Some Foreign Office officials call him “five Is”, which apparently stands for “insular, imperious, idle, irascible and ignorant”.

잘, now. Hate to call this one too soon, but it would appear that Dominic has lost the dressing room. As for how completely he has mislaid it, the foreign secretary makes even José Mourinho’s Real Madrid dressing room look like it was right behind the manager. We seem to be very much in Raymond-Domenech-at-the 2010-World-Cup territory. At that tournament, the French coach presided over walkouts, insurrection, bitter briefings, a team bus sit-in, players training independently and a group-stage exit that prompted some kind of national public inquiry into the mutiny. 운 좋게, we don’t take the Foreign Office that seriously.

Assuming he doesn’t get pictured on a flume ride in Islamabad, the low point of Raab’s week was probably his appearance before the foreign affairs select committee, where he was outperformed by the furniture. As a side note on the session, I always hugely enjoy watching men use the Queen as a proxy for their own unexplored feelings, desires and resentments. You see it a lot where Meghan and Harry are concerned. “Ooh, I can’t believe what they’ve done to the Queen.” “It’s the Queen my heart breaks for.” But it’s instructive to see it in another context, as the committee lavished a section of Raab’s appearance on some hammy to-and-fro over what had happened to the portrait of the Queen that hung in the British embassy in Kabul, and which was supposed to have been destroyed as a cinematically derivative last act just before staff fled for the airport.

“You promised that the portrait of Her Majesty would not be left in the British embassy,” emoted Neil Coyle, who went on to suggest the Queen was now “less safe” because of Raab. “My understanding was that [the portrait] was destroyed,” Raab almost gasped. “Are you saying that it wasn’t?” “There are some photographs,” intoned Tom Tugendhat, “of some Talibs with the portrait of the Queen.” I must say I’d have ranked what happened to a picture considerably below the fate of even that weirdo ex-Marine’s pet gerbils, but fully expect to be told I don’t understand the value of symbols and whatnot. I do, 하나, understand various stripes of psychoanalytic theory, and can help with therapist numbers should any male politicians wish to get in touch.

그동안, it’s fair to say 보리스 존슨 approaches the tricky battles of autumn with questions mounting about his “grip”. Not quite sure why they should even be questions any more. The only thing the prime minister has a firm grip on are his human shields, so he’d better hope the next few months play out like a movie, and not according to the more perilous rules of real life.

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