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From the desk of Boris Johnson


Ivory Tower: The prime minister writes exclusively for Research Professional News

Greetings boffins and lady boffins,

It is a pleasure once more to be able to speak to you through these pages and to thank you all for your role in securing my stonking lead in the polls. I can’t thank you enough.

It is also a delight to be stretching my muscles as a journalist again. I have in fact written two columns, this one and one in which I tell you that science is not a priority and we have been lying about all the money we are going to give to research—but Allegra says I’m not to send that one, but to save it for the party conference in 2024.

I do miss writing 500 words on a Sunday evening and phoning it into the desk at the Telegraph. Now on a Sunday, Carrie makes me watch repeats of Changing Rooms and the only thing I get to phone in is my performance as prime minister.

Anyway, boffins, let me just say that science really is great. It has saved us all from the beastly Johnny Covid.

I remember back in our darkest hour, when I was alone in my office in Downing Street, reading my copy of The Lady with only a bust of Winston Churchill for company. We had our backs to the wall as we fought an invisible enemy.

Patrick Vallance came in to bring me the news. He said that there was a complete dose developed in Oxford that could solve all our problems. I told him that I was pretty sure that Michael Gove didn’t know any better than the rest of us.

That’s when he explained how vaccines work. Apparently, children have them all the time when they are at schools. Can’t say I’ve noticed but I’m sure Carrie will sort that out for Wilf when the time comes.

Vaccines are bloody brilliant, and they have really turned things around. You should have seen my popularity ratings back in December.

Science is a great British invention. The names ring down the ages: Isaac Newton, James Watt, Stephenson’s Rocket, Alan Turing, Steven Hawkings, Johnny Ball.

And that’s not to mention all the lady science that has been going on as well. Ada Lovelace invented computers and Carrie is keen on dolphins, or something.

I want to make Britain a science superpower. That’s why today, I am introducing the new Order of Boris medal for anyone who does a good science.

I also plan to introduce UK Science Day on which we will celebrate the achievements of great British scientists and remind everyone how I personally approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has saved us all from endless, boring lockdowns. I will be sending every school a signed photograph of me visiting the Jenner Lab and asking the eggheads, “what’s all this then?”

On Science Superpower Day our top laboratory people will march down Whitehall in their white coats and I will take their salute before handing out medals to all our key worker science bods. That’s what a science superpower does.

But let me reassure you that this government will not be imposing mad ideas like the Soviet Union. Although we will be sending a man to the moon like NASA.

Some people have said that it should be Matt Hancock, but there are a few others I can think of. As prime minister I am delighted also to be the first admiral of space.

I have taken personal responsibility for the UK space programme. I have been watching the Sci-fi channel with Wilf and we are big fans of that documentary about the puppets in the spaceships who rescue people from landslides and things.

Then there is this other British chap who zooms about space in an old police telephone box, but I find the stories hard to follow. One minute he’s an old guy from Scotland and the next minute he’s a lady doctor from Yorkshire. Or is that the one about the vets?

Anyway, as space commander I will make sure that we are investing in kit to get us to the moon. Dom bought a load of second-hand satellites before he went. I asked him if one of them could pick up Sky because I’m such a huge soccer fan these days.

Patrick Vallance said you’d be lucky to flog them down the Elephant and Castle market. So, obviously we’ve doubled down on our investment and bought some more, in the hope of getting lucky.

We are committed to reaching our target of investing 2.7 per cent of GDP in R&D by 2027, even if that means shrinking the economy by 40 per cent to get there. We really made a jolly good fist of that last year.

But as ever as we move along the roadmap of the irreversible crocus of hope, we will be following the science. As I’ve always said, data not dates, apart from the non-negotiable date of 19 July when the Saj will be unlocking regardless of what happens.

Last summer we both followed the science and managed to grow the economy with Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Spread it About scheme. This year instead we are having the Euros.

Not those kind of bally Euros, even through one is worth nearly two pounds sterling these days. No, I mean the association football tournament in which we beat the bally Gerries for the first time in a hundred years, or something.

I was watching the game alone in Downing Street with the family and the three official photographers and an embedded journalist from the Daily Mail. I want our scientists to be more like our victorious soccer team.

Even if you are Scottish, or one of the other home nations that might have also been taking part. And that is why we will be funding all the grand challenges, like a world cup bid in 2026.

And now that we have wrestled the ghastly coronavirus to the ground, stolen its lunch money and debagged the rotter, all that remains is for us to return to normal. That’s why I’ve been keen to welcome all these delta flights, although I personally would always fly the flag with British Airways.

It’s also why we will be welcoming UEFA officials and corporate sponsors to Wembley for the footy matches. Otherwise, they said the final would be moved to Orban’s gaff in Hungary.

So, I looked at the data and the situation is very clear. If England are to win a big cup for the first time in yonks, they’ll need to play every game at home with no opposition fans in the stadium. That’s why we’ve taken the decision—you should have seen my polling after the whole Super League malarkey and you can imagine what it would be like if we won the ruddy thing.

Some say it was Dominic Cummings who first introduced this data driven approach to Downing Street, but I can tell you I know how to spell rude words on a calculator if you hold it upside down. Carrie has also been running up some big numbers with her design consultant—who would have thought mood boards would have cost so much.

Let me also say that now we are a science superpower this government will not tolerate abuse of scientists. It was truly shocking to see those terrible pictures of Chris Whitty looking very uncomfortable when being bullied by two rum coves into smiling even though he didn’t want to—that’s why we will be stopping the Downing Street press conferences.

I also what to reassure all you artists and humanists out there. I know that when you hear me speak you think about afternoon technology lessons and worry that you might be made do the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me reassure you that I still love the arts—although I’m not sure about Oliver Dowden.

I am working on my magnum opus, a biography of the bard, the swan of Stratford Upon, our greatest poet and dramatist, Will i Am Shakespeare. At the moment I’m writing about his tragic omelette who wanted to bed his mother and bury his father. That’s the sort of thing that makes me proud to be British.

Anyway, boffins back to the data crunching and saving lives with our glorious vaccine roll out. I’ve also got Merkel coming over for tea this afternoon. I’m hoping to persuade her to let the Brits spread the delta virus all over Europe this summer—anything is better than camping in Scotland again.

Onwards to victory! (Double thumbs up)

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