In recent years an already unstable political climate has hit global turbulence. Instead of voting in support of the status quo, the people have been on the side of change in a protest demonstrating dissatisfaction. This has never been made clearer than in the case of the European referendum and the victory of the Vote Leave campaign, championed by our new Prime Minister.
Through this and other astute political manoeuvres, Boris Johnson has established himself as a vehicle for change. Safe change. And who is a better figure head for change in the Conservative Party than an ex-Etonian, Oxford graduate? May was a refreshing choice after Cameron, as she remained firmly out of the party’s Etonian clique. She was, however, a patsy placed by that same old boys’ network. Now that she has served her purpose, Eton’s oligarchs are ready to return one of their own to the throne. And who better than Boris? A man who seems to have had designs on Number Ten since he first became a member of parliament in 2001.
Voting in an outspoken, egotistical buffoon feels all too familiar. Let us not forget the current President of the United States, who has already pinned Johnson’s success on him being ‘Britain’s Trump’. Perhaps Trump is right, in that both men are perceived as honest; their outrageous comments are misinterpreted as honesty and easily appeal to a new brand of voter in a world disenfranchised with politicians of the past.
Let us review some of the ignorant comments made by Boris, comments he has dismissed as ‘wholly satirical’ and ‘wrenched out of context’. Our new Prime Minister referred to gay men as ‘tank-top wearing bumboys’ and has compared same sex marriage to bestiality. This is even before we broach the many racist, offhanded remarks – such as the inexcusable ‘watermelon smiles’ description of Africans. As foreign secretary, a dignified position requiring a larger degree of sensitivity than Johnson seems capable of, he managed to offend many countries. His visit to Turkey was soured by an offensive limerick he published, calling the Turkish president a ‘wankerer’ and describing him having sex with a goat. He has also criticised police investigating historic child sex abuse cases as money being ‘spaffed up the wall’. What a dashing display of sensitivity!
Yet another spectacular show of statecraft can be seen in his official visit to Myanmar, a nation still hurting from the terrible sting of the British Empire’s colonial atrocities. Johnson decided to recite lines from Kipling’s The Road to Mandalay, a colonial era poem, inside the Shwedagon Pagoda and into a microphone. This was widely regarding as incredibly ignorant, and highly offensive to the people of Myanmar. It can easily be interpreted as the behaviour of a bored, impulsive child.
The word spoilt can also be used to describe Johnson. In his first week as mayor of London, he was late to two functions. When the London riots began, he was on holiday. Rather than rushing back to the city, he waited forty-eight hours to return. When he finally addressed the people of London, he was met with a booing crowd. During his time as a journalist he was frequently late in writing his column and would lose his temper if the paper was published without his articles.
This consistent egotism extends to financial matters. In the parliamentary expenses scandal, Johnson was exposed as spending excessive amounts of the public’s money on taxi journeys. This is bizarre, as we were led to believe that Boris bikes everywhere. It gets worse. Johnson realised that he would not be able to live on the annual £143,911 mayoral salary, which is around five times higher than the current average household income. To survive, he continued his Telegraph column. The additional £250,000 he earned annually from this he referred to as ‘chicken feed’. Perhaps this second job is responsible for his tardiness. This is the man we have surrendered our country to; a self-absorbed brat who will never put duty before his personal gain.
Furthermore, the man is untrustworthy. Many who have worked with him have denounced Johnson as a liar, including Lord Patten. This is clear from his behaviour as Mayor of London. He abolished the western wing of the congestion charge and abandoned plans to raise the congestion charge for four-by-four vehicles. This astoundingly short-sighted decision failed to take into account increased congestion in the city and global warming. It came across as an obvious and careless attempt to grab votes and is likely to have contributed to London’s nitrogen dioxide levels being above the legal limits. This was revealed in an independent report by the Greater London Authority, which Johnson dishonestly failed to publish. Nitrogen dioxide has been linked to climate change and lung cancer.
Continuing his crusade of deceit, Johnson attempted to cover up pollution in London before the 2012 Olympics by deploying dust suppressants near pollution monitoring stations. Boris has also misused statistics to mislead the public. Beyond the notorious £350 million for our NHS lie, he falsely claimed that during his tenure as self-appointed chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority that serious youth crime decreased. It has actually increased. Is this merely the misremembering of statistics by a man stressed from working two intense jobs, or a deliberate attempt to lie to the public?
The many misdeeds and misleading actions of Johnson could fill a book, but I believe the case against him based on those mentioned previously to be substantial. The remaining question is, what comes next? What are Boris’ plans for the country?
Several promises were made during his campaign, promises which many believe he will start breaking before he spills his first drink on Number Ten’s couch. He has promised to deliver Brexit by 31st October, abandoned the current withdrawal agreement and in doing so made the possibility of a no-deal Brexit look more inevitable based on Britain’s current success with negotiations.
There is no question that a no-deal Brexit will be terrible for Britain. Given Boris’ ‘fuck business’ declaration in relation to Brexit, it is surprising how supportive the Conservative Party’s vote was. Perhaps this support was due to his promise of tax breaks to individuals earning less than £80,000, which includes a member of parliament’s salary. These political tactics can be perceived as dangerously close to bribery, but apparently Johnson is not above this.
The shadow of a no-deal Brexit haunts Britain thanks to Johnson, and the working class should be scared. Increased production costs through the imposition of tariff barriers and restricted market access are likely to be offset by the reduction of wages, for example.
But before this, beyond this, will there be a general election? To regain parliamentary stability on Brexit, Johnson will need to call a general election. Additionally, only the Conservative Party has voted for Boris. To be clear, less than 0.2% of the British population have voted for him. Surely in a democracy we have a right to choose a leader through a general election? May seemed to have believed so, however the 2017 election backfired on the Conservatives. The majority was lost, and a £1 billion bribe was agreed for the DUP to support the government.
What would be the result of a general election now? With the resignation of prominent MPs, such as Alan Duncan, and the splitting of the two major parties to form groups such as Change UK and the Brexit Party, the Tories are in a precarious position. Polls are showing a shift in support away from Labour and the Conservatives in favour of the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats. A general election could destroy the fragile remnants of parliamentary stability, which would be a disaster for Johnson. But who knows? Perhaps his arrogant nature and sycophantic followers are already convincing him that he will win in a landslide.
But all this is speculation. Maybe Johnson’s unstable, lying nature was a sign of immaturity born from his desperate struggle for a power which he now has. In truth, it seems to remain a petrifying reality. Laziness, arrogance and greed are not the characteristics of a leader with his country’s interests at heart. The crisis of the Conservatives has presented with a new symptom, and it may be fatal. The party has played its final card and it is weak. Johnson is an unsuitable leader and the country will pay.