What can I say?
Trying to take a calm, rational view of the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the UK is calling for effort and emotional control I find difficult at my great age. Mr Johnson wishes to be the saviour of Britain by enacting Brexit. His Churchillian approach suggests that he likes a battle. His style of behaviour implies a couldn’t care less approach to people, somewhat in the vein of President Trump, who, momentarily, sees Boris as a protégé.
An invigorated special relationship with the United States would isolate Britain from Europe for the foreseeable future. You can argue that Mrs May already achieved that without Trump’s assistance. But her frankly bizarre intransigence was at the heart of her failure. Boris sounds as though he might be worse. But wait… many who know him speak of his persuasive charm. I, too, believe he has some when he puts his mind to it.
The people of the UK are still extremely divided. The considerable cohort of Remainers is bolstering the Liberal-Democrat Party in a dramatic way. A life-long Conservative myself, and unable to vote due to my prolonged absence from UK, I found myself – astonishingly – sending the Lib-Dems some money on the eve of Mr Johnson’s coronation. If I were there I would vote for them in a general election. They have Remain as their main platform.
My decision would be entirely emotional because I don’t really think the Lib-Dems could run the country efficiently and politically successfully. But they are nearer to my views of what needs to be done than any other politicians in UK. So what is Boris going to do that might win me back to Conservative thinking?
First he will have to change his demeanour and present himself as Boris Johnson and not a clone of the great man who piloted us through WWII. Imitation politicians always fail because they can never live up to their role model’s achievements. Second, he will have to show what he is made of by how he deals with the Strait of Hormuz problem. It is ironic that such a challenge should emerge at this particular moment. Imagine, just when collaboration and concerted effort are most important the UK is trying to quit the only organisation that gives it clout. Oh dear.
Third he will have to show the EU that he means friendship and cooperation, not “do or die” – one of the silliest expressions a politician can make. His dealing with Hormuz may actually help him in this aspect of his relationship with Europe. But he had better make it good not bombastic. Fourth, Mr Johnson must tell the voters who have put him in place and all the other voters who didn’t like the truth about the real cost of no deal to their society. He lied at the start of the Brexit campaign. He is lying now about withholding the £39Bn owed to the EU. His country is in decline, even technical recession, and his currency has dropped to a riveting 1.21 against the US$.
Mr Johnson and his new Chancellor are promising more treats. This is dangerous, as the previous Chancellor pointed out, and will no doubt continue to do so from the back benches of Parliament. Mr Hammond was not an exciting Finance Minister but he was a safe pair of hands. Boris should have kept him on for at least a year. Generous handouts will run Britain into serious economic trouble which, coupled with the trade disruption already happening due to Brexit, will reduce the country to poverty if they are not careful.
Boris Johnson’s Premiership is the end of British Parliaments as we have known them. A Phoenix may arise from the ashes but I doubt it. Britain may muddle through – its favourite way of operating. The Union will probably break up. Scotland, for a start, is champing at the bit to remain with Europe. Ireland has lost much of the religious fervour that caused the antagonism between Eire and British Northern Ireland. Frankly, a United Ireland is so sensible that I can honestly only hope it happens.
Mr Johnson would not have been my choice for Prime Minister. His night of the long knives dismissing some 14+ ministers from their jobs smacks of cronyism and division not representation and cooperation.
He may yet prove to have grown up.
That’s the best we can hope for.