WHEN Boris Johnson began discussing bongs in his BBC interview yesterday morning you wondered if he’d been smoking them. The Prime Minister wants Big Ben, currently undergoing repairs, to proclaim our departure from the European Union on January 31. In what passes for a political interview on the BBC these days (it looked more like a Tory party political broadcast) this country’s political leader claimed his Government was “working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”. At an estimated £50k a bong, the exercise would require a crowd-funding effort of around £500,000 with an assortment of Tory donors pledging to underwrite the project.

Later this was revealed to have been the fevered fantasy of the Tories’ scarecrow wing as the plan was dismissed by the few sane voices remaining in what passes for a political party. Even so, it provided the rest of us a glimpse of the future cultural strategy of the Cummings/Johnson administration.

You might have thought that America’s latest adventurism in the Middle East and its implications for stability of that troubled region might have dominated the early planning of the Government. Perhaps even some concern at the bushfires ravaging much of Australia’s ecosystem. It would seem, though, that these two great global challenges are fighting for cabinet time with a proposal to empower the electorate to sponsor the chimes on a London clock.

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Perhaps, though, we ought to be encouraged by clear signs of improvement in Johnson’s use of the Queen’s English. His Big Ben bong initiative was the epitome of clarity and acuity compared with his attempts at capturing Northern Ireland’s moment of destiny as power-sharing was restored at Stormont the previous day. “Never mind the hand of history on my shoulder, see the hand of a well, ah (indecipherable), um ah (indecipherable) no I, eh see the hand of the future.” Thus one of the most important occasions in recent Irish history was marked by the rambling of a drunk man trying to source a sympathy winch at closing time in Clatty Pat’s.

You could have supplied your own news headlines between each Big Ben peal if the bong bung plan had gone ahead. I fear, though, that it will only be delayed. There will be plenty of other opportunities for Big Ben to mark our retreat from Europe. The obvious one is when a trade deal is finally announced. Another will come with the start of the Festival of Britain, which Theresa May bequeathed to the nation as a celebration of our new independent status.

BONG: “Time up for EU nationals as clock begins ticking.”

BONG: “Cheerio Cheerio Cheerio.”

BONG: “Foreign firms jostle to leave UK.”

BONG: “It’s like the fall of Saigon, observers say.”

This orgy of deluded jingoism and insularity will last for several years and we would all be advised to grow accustomed to it. Dominic Cummings knows that there must come a time when the numbers begin to crumble and the cracks in the pre-Brexit fantasy begin to become evident. As more factories close and other car manufacturers move their operations out of the UK and continental holidays become ordeals; as wages reduce and medicines disappear, Cummings and his new model army of advisory sociopaths must produce a steady production line of civic jamborees to keep the punters believing that they are living in the best country on the planet, even as the lights dim.

Even now I suspect Cummings is ordering all new staff to download and memorise the playbook of Comical Ali, the plucky Iraqi information minister who insisted his country was whipping the yanks’ sorry asses during the second Iraq war. When Labour voters in seats like Bolsover are deluded into thinking that Boris Johnson is the answer, Cummings must think he’ll get them to swallow anything.

Perhaps we could organise a flotilla of small boats to greet the first shipment of chlorinated chicken arriving from America. In English port towns schoolchildren could be given the day off and street parties organised with a chunky chicken theme.

Elsewhere, as EU nationals pack up and leave, we could organise farewell parties and accompany them all down to the docks with banners and flags saying things like: “it was nothing personal” and “we’ll still back Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest”.

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In little harbour villages dotted along the south coast emotional re-unions and welcome home parties could be arranged for returning fugitives. As it begins to dawn on them that Benidorm is no longer what it used to be they’ll seek to rekindle their old networks in a welcome boost for the organised crime industry.

At Southampton and Portsmouth there could be vivid and spectacular re-enactments of great British naval triumphs while the nation waits expectantly for a suitable small country to be invaded to cement the new-found feelings of national unity.

I’d expect Cummings, even now, to be exploiting civil strife in the royal family for maximum benefit. A secret concordat will be drawn up by which the Windsors agree to produce at least one baby and one marriage a year if they want to retain their gilded lifestyles. Donald Trump in his second term as president will also identify some leverage in the royal shenanigans. He’ll ensure Prince Andrew is indemnified from any legal scrutiny in the US over his relationship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in return for a good deal on NHS services.

England will become a Union Jack-waving, self-obsessed Lilliput reduced to staging contrived displays of the glories of empire as the rest of the world laughs and mints new terms of insult with the word “English” in them. Thus the French will add the suffix “comme un Anglaise” to indicate behaviour which is considered delusional.

To be narrow-minded and obtuse will be to risk being described as “Anglicoise”.

You may feel that this is the stuff of fantasy and that it is nothing more than a distorted caricature of what England will look like as means are sought to sweeten the Brexit effect. And you may be right. But remember, that a UK Prime Minister with a whacking majority seriously wanted us to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”.

Things can only get worse.