For weeks, they had relished mocking him, belittling him and portraying him as an absurdist Anglo-Saxon buffoon chasing the impossible.
But today, exposing the perfidiousness that is in their DNA, Europe’s soi-disant elite mobbed Boris Johnson like intoxicated drone bees swarming around a honey pot.
EU negotiator Michel Barnier. French President Emmanuel Macron. Germany’s Angela Merkel, the federalist femme fatale. Even Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, that doughy ball of puppy fat who had rudely blanked the PM only last month.
The very people who only recently were insisting no new Brexit deal was available, were now queuing to touch Johnson’s cloak as if he was a latter-day prophet.
And what a love-in it was.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center, is greeted by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, center left, during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels. There were smiles all round as Mr Johnson worked towards a Brexit deal
Mr Johnson (second from right) salutes French President Emmanuel Macron (right) upon their arrival for a round table meeting as part of a European Union summit at European Union Headquarters in Brussels
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (centre) reacts to a greeting from Hungarian President Viktor Orban as Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (right) looks on
Mr Johnson, pictured with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel to the left of him, insisted ‘now is the moment to get Brexit done’ after he signed off the blueprint, which deletes the Irish backstop
Mr Johnson chatted happily with Angela Merkel (right) and Leo Varadkar (second from right) as they gathered to start the summit at the council HQ
Images of Mr Johnson on Thursday were in stark contrast to Mrs May at an EU summit in 2016 (pictured). May appeared to have been given the cold shoulder by fellow leaders at the event in Brussels
So brimming with testosterone was the European Commission, we could have been peering into the communal showers at a local rugby club.
In the centre of this congratulatory melee: Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, revelling in the scene of his greatest triumph.
He’d done it. Don’t ask how, but he’d done it. Amid the sycophantic melee, Boris shot a toothy grin. ‘Victoire,’ it seemed to say, ‘est à moi!’
The honour of formally announcing a deal was afforded to Jean-Claude Juncker, who for once actually appeared statesmanlike.
The Luxembourger, so often the unwelcome court jester in these situations, shuffled toward the podium inside the European Commission and produced from his inside pocket a sheet of paper. Carefully unfolding it, he eyeballed his audience, smacked his lips and announced in that Gauloises-tinged croak: ‘We ’ave a deal.’ Johnson stood beside him, apple-cheeked, smiling awkwardly, shifting his weight excitedly from foot to foot.
He resembled a bashful schoolboy on prize-giving day waiting to be crowned victor ludorum.
Did those slightly startled eyes shield a certain smugness? Certainement.
But then think of all those naysayers who told him this could never be done.
Think of those white-flag wavers who insisted Brussels would never even re-open Theresa May’s original withdrawal agreement let alone change it. What utter drips they now look.
All is forgiven: Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel mocked Boris Johnson by ’empty chairing’ the PM at a joint press conference last month (left), but the pair seemed to have buried the hatchet as they laughed together yesterday (right)
Boris Johnson poses with French President Emmanuel Macron, who appears to give a thumbs up during the crunch EU summit
Boris Johnson and Mr Macron shaking hands and appearing in good spirits at the crunch EU summit on Thursday
Boris Johnson (pictured centre) arrives at a summit of European Union leaders, with German chancellor Angela Merkel with her back to camera on the right
A smiling Boris Johnson (pictured centre) speaks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
The PM next to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel at a very successful summit for Mr Johnson who has secured a new deal
A buoyed Mr Johnson speaks with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured centre right, and other European leaders on Thursday
Juncker rhapsodised for a while about the deal. ‘A testament to our commitment to finding solutions,’ was how he described it. No barbs, no smart alec remarks.
Perhaps I am looking at Monsieur Juncker in a more a generous light now a deal’s seemingly in the bag but he looked in better nick than he had in recent months.
His gait was steadier than normal and his suiting hung baggily around the shoulders. It is possible he has shed a few pounds – sorry, kilos – in recent weeks. Perhaps his colleague Donald Tusk decided to padlock the drinks cabinet during negotiations.
What was clear from Juncker’s behaviour was that he had enjoyed jousting with the British Prime Minister whom he repeatedly referred to as ‘Boris’.
He almost seemed sad the wrangling was all over. I assure you he was never like this around Theresa May.
When Johnson spoke, he did so generously. The only steel in Boris’s speech was a pointed reference to how decisions about Britain’s future – ‘our laws, our borders, our money and how we want to run the UK’ – would be ‘taken in the UK by elected representatives of the people in the UK’.
I don’t know what sort of wine they’ve been laying down in the EU Commission cellars over the years but as this convivial pair tottered off, I hope they went and uncorked something decent.
Across the North Sea in the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg was doing a little victory strut.
Well, not quite. The mere thought of Jacob giving attitude is eminently preposterous. It was more a cocky, Gene Kelly twirl of the umbrella.
The Leader of the House, who was laying out the future business of the House, was in unctuous form. Schadenfreude oozed from every pore.
Boris’s deal, Moggster informed MPs, was a negotiating triumph.
Pictured left to right: Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel speak prior to an European Union Summit
Mr Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attend a round table meeting at the European Union leaders summit
The dramatic intervention came as Mr Johnson (pictured with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday) insisted ‘now is the moment to get Brexit done’ after he signed off the blueprint, which deletes the hated Irish backstop
President of the European Comission Jean-Claude Juncker (second-from-right), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (second-from-left) and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (left) and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (right) during a press conference on the Brexit deal in Brussels
Boris Johnson would not be drawn on whether his deal could secure a majority of support in the House of Commons as he addressed reporters in Brussels
Mr Johnson leaves the podium after addressing a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels
Boris Johnson said this morning that he had secured a ‘great new deal’ with the European Union
The opposition benches, meanwhile, swirled with vinegar. For them, this deal was not what was supposed to have happened. Barnier et al were meant to have told bungling Boris to naff off.
Anna Soubry (Change UK, Broxtowe) looked like she’d spent the morning sucking crab apples, yapping away like a speaking doll. Dominic Grieve (Ind, Beaconsfield) twiddled his thumbs indignantly. Hilary Benn (Lab, Leeds Central) had a jaw clasped so tight it might have been bound with bell wire.
Rees-Mogg wasn’t the one who broached the issue of Brexit. In fact, he had been politely announcing forthcoming debates when Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth and North Perthshire) expressed surprise he hadn’t gloated yet about the PM’s deal.
At that point, Mogg unsheathed a copy of the deal from his folder which he proudly held aloft. ‘I have had a chance to peruse it in detail,’ he cooed.
Labour’s trade spokesman Barry Gardiner screamed: ‘You haven’t even read it!’
‘Does the Hon. Gentleman think that I have understood it through extra-sensory perception?’ Mogg asked mockingly. ‘I tell him he is wrong. It has not come to me through the ether. I have looked at the words on the page, of which the normal definition is reading.’ The chamber went bananas. ‘Outrageous!’ hollered Soubry. Mogg could have informed them he’d consumed slivers of hoisin-roast puffin and lightly scrambled avocet eggs for breakfast that morning off the back of a freshly-thrashed slave and there would have been less uproar.
Chris Leslie (Change UK, Nottingham East) was cross that Rees-Mogg was already in possession of a copy of the deal.
‘I am slightly puzzled that the Hon. Gentleman thinks it is odd that members of the Cabinet receive Government documents, this is the normal process of Government in this country,’ Jacob shrugged nonchalantly.
Hilary Benn was desperate to talk about the economic implications of the deal. Rees-Mogg waved his query away, describing it as an irrelevance. He explained there would be ample opportunity to debate it when the House sits tomorrow.
Jacob’s loftiness was really getting to them. Ian Murray (Lab, Edinburgh South) accused him of ‘sheer arrogance’. Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) said he was patronising.
Joanna Cherry (SNP, Edinburgh SW), gobbling like a trapped turkey, jabbered about the benefits the supremacy of EU law had brought to the UK. Ugh, it was an appalling court, Mogg remarked, whose supremacy once Britain left the EU would ‘fade like the morning mist.’
Someone yanked the chord on Soubry’s back one final time. ‘A shocking sense of entitlement!’ she croaked. She was right of course. But this was Mogg’s moment and he was determined to milk it.
Next up for Boris: A tricky Commons vote tomorrow. In the meantime – BRITAIN HAS A BREXIT DEAL!