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Gary Neville: ‘I Wouldn’t Want Boris as my Postman’

The people you can trust in times like these are the posties, carers and teachers who really keep society going. They are being badly let down by a prime minister who thrives on lies and division, argues Gary Neville.

Gary Neville has become increasingly outspoken about politics in recent months. (Credit: Getty)

When I think of postal workers, I think of the social fabric in our society. I think of growing up in Bury, and the people who were trusted in the community.

The way I’ve always seen postal workers is that they’re the people who make you feel secure. You see them walking down the street, and you know that they’re not just being someone delivering your post—they’re someone you can collaborate with, someone you communicate with. Someone you can trust.

‘Trust’ is a very important word at this moment in time. The reason that I’ve been vocal about politics over the last twelve or eighteen months is that I don’t trust the people leading our country.

When I think of Boris Johnson, I wouldn’t want him as my postman. I wouldn’t want him as the teacher of my children. I wouldn’t want him as the carer of a relative. I wouldn’t want him to be somebody who held a position of authority or responsibility in my life—whether that was my accountant, or my lawyer, or any of the people that we look to as those with accountability, those who take responsibility. Those we trust.

Right now, our standards are terrible in terms of what’s coming out of Number 10. We have a man in charge of our country who doesn’t know whether he had a party, or even whether there’s been a party in his own house. Not only that, but he doesn’t know how to ask whether there’s been a party in his own house.

Workers in this country at every single level are being let down by this government. Boris Johnson doesn’t just take down people within his own team, his closest aides, which we’ve seen in the last week, the last month, and the last eighteen months—he’s taking us all down. My entrance into politics in this last twelve months on Twitter hasn’t been born out of any particular movement—it’s born out of the fact that I see our leadership at this moment as a real danger, and something that doesn’t reflect well upon us as the team in this country that are being led by him.

I’m furious—and I’m not furious about Boris Johnson’s mistakes. He makes too many, let’s be clear, and it’s not ideal if you make too many mistakes in the position that he’s in. I do believe that he is leading in a very difficult time.

But it’s the fact that he doesn’t own up to his mistakes that concerns me. He doesn’t accept his mistakes. He doesn’t take responsibility. In fact, it’s worse than that: he pushes the blame onto everybody else.

I grew up in a changing room at Manchester United under a great sporting leader, and we made many mistakes, but we always came in at half time or the end of the game and held up our hands and said, ‘Sorry lads, I got that one wrong.’ I respected that, and the lads always respected it when I held my hand up. If Johnson had stood up last week and said, ‘Look, we’d all been working together. It was a tough time. We had a quiz. We had a few drinks,’ I think I’d have probably said, ‘Fair enough, he’s admitted it.’

The anger that I have at the moment is that this guy can’t tell the truth. Not only that: his ministers who are in the highest positions in government have to lie for him. And it’s all going to come down like one almighty house of cards in the next week, the next month, or the next six months—because this is unsustainable.

In a football team, there are five groups of people. You have the young players, who need opportunity, who need belief from the leaders of the club. Then you have the more experienced players—older ones, who are there coming towards the end of their careers, but who are there for their knowledge, their intelligence. And there are international players, who bring great variety in terms of their different style of play and their different ways of seeing things.

Then we have our star players, the ones who are just fantastic, who have to be allowed to express themselves, to take risks—but they also have to stay within the team, sharing that team’s boundaries. And we have the injured players, too, the ones who maybe can’t perform.

When I think of Boris Johnson, I know that he’d only look after the star players: the hierarchy, the elite, the people he thinks he can resonate with, and who he considers important. The problem is that in a team, and in this country, we have all different types of people, and everyone needs looking after. Great leaders look after everybody equally, while giving those individual elements of the team the bespoke treatment they need to be able to perform and succeed.

The idea that we can’t look after each other, that we can’t demonstrate compassion and empathy towards every single part of this country—to every single person in this country, all of whom have different challenges and different situations—is just madness. We’re being divided, constantly. And Boris Johnson thrives on division.

We have to change the leader of this country very quickly, because we are regressing. A change of politics, a change of leadership, a change of thinking.

I’ve got four or five businesses in Manchester, and we have four or five hundred within the teams. I like to think that every single day that we give them the best working conditions and the right environment to be able to perform. We look after them. We’re committed to them. And they’re committed to us. I see us as no different, and I think: is it that difficult, really?

I accept that running the country is different to running a few businesses, but the principles remain the same. Boris Johnson is the CEO of our country. He’s got to look after everybody within that team, but he doesn’t see us as equal. He only looks after his own, and that’s not the way to perform, and not the way to lead.

I speak at times with a bit of emotion, because I’ve found myself getting angrier. Do I feel like getting drawn into politics? Sometimes I do get a bit of an itch. Once I got to the door though I’d probably have a peep through and think, ‘Not sure about that.’

But I do feel passionate about what’s happening at this moment in time. You can’t fight a fair fight with these people. You have to make sure that you do everything you can to beat them. You have to find a way to win, because I think he’s damaging all of us—not just in this country, but all around the world.