Whether Johnson can make good on his promise to cut the Gordian Knot of the Brexit negotiations will become clear soon enough, but the switch to a more confident and positive tone was a welcome shift of mood.
So too were the massive changes in the Cabinet – the largest cull of ministers outside a general election I can recall – which smacked of resolve and determination.
I have my doubts about Johnson, particularly about his character, but anyone who loves this country should wish him a fair wind to deliver on his pledges.
But that wasn’t the mood on social media this week. According to many Twitter users, including some supposedly credible ‘blue checked’ journalists, we are now living under a fascist dictatorship where all foreigners will be deported and dissenters thrown in jail.
One thing you can say about Boris Johnson – he manages to upset all the right people!
Amusing though this derangement is, there is a serious point to be made here about the lack of proportion in modern political debate. If you throw around smears such as “Nazi” and “fascist” at solidly centrist politicians and anybody else whose views you disagree with, you simply devalue the language and diminish its power.
For the avoidance of doubt, Johnson is not “worse than Hitler” and neither are any of his Cabinet picks. If you want to know what real Nazis and fascists are capable of, there are plenty of history books down at your local library waiting to enlighten you.
To depict the new Cabinet as a “far right” government is nothing short of laughable. Johnson, for example, is a classic “one nation” Tory with impeccable socially liberal views on such issues as gay rights, abortion and immigration.
That is precisely why he scored two famous victories against Ken Livingstone in Labour-leaning London.
As for the Cabinet, two of the top four offices of state are now occupied by the children of Asian immigrants. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s family were refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda, while Chancellor Sajid Javid’s father famously came to the UK from Pakistan with just a £1 in his pocket to become a bus driver.
The new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is the son of a Jewish child refugee who escaped Czechoslovakia after the Munich Agreement in 1938.
In short we have the most diverse Cabinet in British history. This should be a cause of utter delight and celebration, rather than the sour carping of left-wing critics.
These families came to this country with virtually nothing and have made massively successful contributions to our society. What an advert for successful immigration and integration!
Johnson is also of foreign stock – his great-grandfather was a Turkish Muslim – but this week the most common comparisons have been to US President Donald Trump and Johnson’s great hero, Sir Winston Churchill.
The similarities with Trump are superficial – they both have distinctive hairstyles, a talent for self-publicity and the ability to put their foot in it, but I don’t think much else. Let’s hope they can put their egos aside and work together on a free trade deal to benefit both the UK and the US.
As for Churchill, the comparison flatters Johnson. It is true that Churchill had an equally chequered political career when he became Prime Minister – most notably the black spots of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign and his opposition to Indian independence.
But the challenge he faced in the grim days, after 1940 when Britain was virtually alone against the Nazi threat, was far tougher than anything Johnson is likely to be confronted with – thank Heavens. One thing Johnson has learned from his hero is that oratory has immense power to galvanise the mood of a nation. Churchill’s inspiring speeches were a key weapon in Britain’s defiance and eventual defeat of fascism.
Churchill, like our new Prime Minister, was a flawed character. But in 1940 he was the right man at the right time. Let us hope that the same can be said of Boris Johnson in 2019.