May you live in interesting times…
The times have been very interesting in Britain ever since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
And from this week they may be about to get even more interesting still.
On Tuesday, Theresa May’s successor as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister will be announced. Boris Johnson, of course, is the hot favourite to win.
My preferred candidate was Rory Stewart. When he was eliminated I switched to Michael Gove, and when he went out, I plumped for Jeremy Hunt.
Once upon a time, I might have supported Boris Johnson. He wrote a good book about Rome and was a rather funny buffoon with an echo of Churchill in the way he looked. Then I grew up a little and he became a very unsatisfactory figure.
To be fair to him, he did reasonably well as Mayor of London (2008-16), and I have not heard anything against him as M.P. for Henley (2001-08) or Uxbridge (2015 – present) but I have not read anything good about him as Foreign Secretary (2016-18) and he has caused controversy in the past over things he has done and said.
Of course, I have to be careful here: who was it that told journalists that Johnson was a bad Foreign Secretary? Why did they tell them? I have to consider that it may have been people with an axe to grind. As for his various controversies – we are all capable of being stupid at one point or another.
That’s fair enough, but by the same token, we all have it in us to act intelligently and wisely, and in the Conservative Party leadership race, I just haven’t seen him do that. He has declined to appear in television debates, when he has spoken he has not been clear about his policies, he appears to have fallen back on his buffoon image to get by. This is just not good enough for someone wanting to become Prime Minister.
At the moment, Boris Johnson comes across to me as all image and no substance. It’s such a shame as he is clearly an intelligent person – his book on Rome was a genuinely good read. He needs to have substance, though, to successfully oversee the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.
During the campaign, Johnson said that he would make sure Britain left the E.U. on 31st October come what may. I believe this means with or without a deal. I might have supported a No Deal withdrawal until I saw this video that Stewart made about it during the leadership campaign in which he outlined precisely what a No Deal would mean. Now, I worry about what might happen to the well being of the country in the event of a No Deal exit. And neither Johnson nor any other Brexiteer has stepped up to the plate and said ‘Actually, Rory Stewart is wrong; a No Deal exit will be good, and this is why—‘
Because I worry about the effect of a No Deal exit, I also worry about the Conservative Party. It is the only thing that stands between anything approaching sanity and the insanity of a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government. Corbyn is not fit to be an M.P., let alone Labour leader, let alone Prime Minister.
Over the last few years – years! – he has failed again, again, and again to deal adequately with the anti-semitism crisis within the Labour Party. Again, again, and again. Reprehensible. Then there is the issue of his own past associations with pro-terrorist figures. But let’s say he met these people because somebody had to in order to help the such and such peace process. This, argument would be more convincing, however, if we had footage of Corbyn meeting British or American officials. He appears to be very selective, however, about who he will meet.
When the new European Parliament opened a few weeks ago, the MEPs from the Brexit Party turned their back on the E.U.’s anthem (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy). That was predictable and ignorable from a bunch of bores as them. At the same time, however, the Liberal Democrat MEPs arrived wearing T Shirts bearing the legend ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. The Liberal Democratic party is a mainstream party with deep roots in British politics. I expected better, much better, from their MEPs.
That’s been the problem with Brexit, though; it has made fools of so many people. Why? Because they want their objective to be met so much, so, so much. So, so much it has corrupted them.
What’s to be done? That is what Boris Johnson will almost certainly need to work out. Can he do it? Personally, I don’t think so; I don’t think he has the popularity or good will in Parliament to make it happen. I suspect we’ll be heading towards either another Conservative leader or, more likely, a General Election before too long. And God help us if Jeremy Corbyn wins.
God help us – prayers are all we have left right now