Boris Johnson said Liz Truss’s blundering mini-Budget was like a badly played piano, in a reference to a famous Morecambe and Wise sketch.
Asked on CNN about his successor’s fatal misstep, the former prime minister first tried to avoid the question, saying he has a rule against discussing British politics abroad.
But after some prodding he relented to make his first comments about Ms Truss’s economy-crashing programme of unfunded tax cuts, saying: “It’s kind of like when I play the piano. The notes individually sound OK but they’re not in the right order, or occurring at the right time.”
His remark echoed a 1971 sketch from the double act’s BBC programme in which superstar conductor Andre Previn criticised Eric Morecambe’s attempted rendition of Grieg’s piano concerto. He said in the sketch: “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”
Speaking before an audience in Portugal, Mr Johnson also claimed to believe he had no chance of becoming prime minister again.
He told the interviewer: “I’ll give you the answer I’ve given for about 20 years, my chances of becoming prime minister are about as good as being decapitated by a frisbee or being blinded by a champagne cork, or locked in a disused fridge…”
Mr Johnson trailed off before continuing: “I did become prime minister so my chances of becoming prime minister again are those impossibilia cubed or squared.”
The former prime minister also used the interview to share his thoughts on the response of other leaders to the war in Ukraine, earning a rebuke from Germany for saying Berlin was hoping for a swift Russian win. He also claimed France’s Emmanuel Macron was in denial about the coming invasion.
Asked what he would have done differently with his time at the top, he sighed and said: “You know there’s so many things, it’s an embarassment of…” before restarting: “I”m pleased with some of the things that we did,” including the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and support for Ukraine.
He went on to say that he regrets spending so much time on Covid to the neglect of his MPs, many of whom were new to Westminster.
He said: “I should have spent more time talking to my troops rather than just trying to get on and manage the pandemic. There’s an honest answer.”