The National:

IS this really a “Crisis? What crisis?” moment for Boris Johnson?

The phrase was famously associated with Labour prime minister James Callaghan who had gone to a summit meeting on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and returned looking suspiciously tanned having stopped off for swimming at Barbados.

This was in January 1979, in the middle of the so-called winter of discontent, when road haulier and rail strikes made the UK not a nice place to be – rumours of shortages rather than actual shortages caused mild panic buying in many places.

At a press conference at Heathrow Airport to show he was returning to take charge, Callaghan was visibly short-tempered when a reporter asked: “What is your general approach, in view of the mounting chaos in the country at the moment?”

Callaghan snapped: “Well, that’s a judgment that you are making. I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you’re taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don’t think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos.”

Larry Lamb, the editor of The Sun, promptly had a field day. It was Lamb who had coined the “winter of discontent” line – Shakespeare had originally written “winter of our discontent” in Richard III – to describe the strikes that had plagued Callaghan’s government.

Now Lamb printed a headline that was hardly original – the Evening Standard had used it and the line was also used in the 1973 film Day of the Jackal and was the title of Supertramp’s 1975 album – but Lamb put “Crisis? What crisis?” on the front page of The Sun and Callaghan’s goose was cooked.

So whatever you do, Prime Minister, when you get off the plane after your hols, do not downplay the mounting chaos in the UK just now or you might face a Callaghan-type fate. On second thoughts ...

While we’re at it, amid all the fuss about who is paying for Johnson’s family holiday in an expensive villa in Spain, one aspect of the trip seems to have been ignored, which is how did the Prime Minister and his wife and child actually get there? Downing Street refuses to say, which is only going to encourage speculation that he went by private jet or the special RAF planes reserved for the royals and government ministers – those naughty scamps at Private Eye have suggested just that with a mocked up cover on their latest edition.

He might have flown a balloon filled with his own hot air, but any privileged jet use will emerge, probably just in time for COP26.