BRITAIN’S new Prime Minister, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – better known just as Boris to the wider world – seems to have no desire to dispense with all the bluff and bluster he has been going on with and to become more statesmanlike on his elevation to the top job in Parliament. Maybe it’s because he feels that because behaving so pompously and arrogantly with his strongly in-bred sense of entitlement has got him to where is his thus far in Britain, he naïvely believes he can get away with it also on the bigger stage of Europe and the wider world.
Boris Johnson and many of his fellow Eton-educated euro-sceptic colleagues who have taken over the upper echelons of the Conservative Party seem to be so gung-ho about taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union – with or most likely without a withdrawal agreement – by October 31st next that it looks as if they don’t care about the consequences and are refusing to listen to any voice of reason. It seems like a question of shoot first and ask questions afterwards.
The democratic wish of over 17million UK voters in the Brexit referendum of June 2016 was to leave the European Union, with 16million voting to remain in it, and it follows that the wishes of the majority should be respected. Many may have changed their minds since then as the enormity of the implications of leaving the EU became clearer, but the least all of them deserve is an orderly withdrawal and that, unfortunately, is looking increasingly unlikely under the stewardship of Boris Johnson.
We are hearing rambling rhetoric from him about making ‘our union great again,’ which calls to mind the election campaign slogan of his doppelgänger across the Atlantic in the White House, President Donald J Trump, who is a fan of Boris – as he is also of North Korea’s Kim Jung Un. Strange bedfellows indeed!
The President of the United States of America is also not a fan of political advice or restraint, as his impetuous tweets indicate, and – even though we have been largely spared Boris on Twitter so far – he does seem to have a similar penchant for shooting from the hip and is determined not to fall into ‘Yes Minister’ mode. Members of the British Civil Service will not be best pleased at having to work with such a maverick politician as their new Prime Minister.
The leader of Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, the seemingly inert Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted his dose of political sour grapes on the new Prime Minister’s election, pointing out that ‘Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers' friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit. But he hasn't won the support of our country.’
Neither of course has Mr Corbyn, as many people in Britain are, seemingly interminably, waiting for him to lead a parliamentary revolt with the large cohort of moderate politicians across all parties who must surely be freaked out at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. They must be wondering at this stage about his reticence in doing so and if anybody else is willing to try to tackle a political mess that seems to be worsening.
Mr Johnson’s declaration that ‘I do not want a no-deal Brexit, but we must get rid of the backstop’ from the proposed withdrawal agreement is totally at odds with the Irish and EU position generally, fuelled by the disproportionate influence of the Democratic Union Party, which holds the balance of power in the UK Parliament, but whose position on Brexit and the backstop is not representative of the majority of people of Northern Ireland, who want to remain in the EU. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, said that Mr Johnson’s comments on Brexit were ‘unhelpful’ and that he was putting Britian on a ‘collision course’ with the EU.
Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar further antagonised the DUP by stating that ‘One of the things that ironically could really undermine the union of the UK is a hard Brexit, both for Northern Ireland and for Scotland, and that is a problem they are going to have to face,’ prompting MP Ian Paisley Jnr to declare that his intervention was ‘unhelpful and unnecessarily aggressive.’
Trading insults is not going to bring about a resolution to this stand-off, but Prime Minister Johnson would do well to listen and learn about the realities that affect people outside the rarefied privileged world he occupies.