Boriswatch (1)

Following the Boris Johnson led Conservative victory in the recent UK General Election, I decided to end my Electionwatch 2019 series (see here). But as I was reminded by a friend, there is going to be a lot of Boris led action in store for us in the months to come, especially given his handsome House of Commons majority.

In the light of this, I decided to launch a Boriswatch series, mindful that while having considerable power to affect our lives there are many factors over which he has little control. There is no doubt opinions are divided over Boris. Some see him as a liar and opportunist, lacking empathy where it matters and a generally despicable character. I was reminded in my own town of a mural painted by my local artist friend, John Bulley, arising out of his criticism of women wearing burkas, when he was criticized of racism, Islamophobia and misogyny.  Others see him as the right person to lead our country at this difficult time, down the needed path of one nation conservatism, throwing off the shackles of EU tyranny and being a sovereign nation again, with a bright future.

As for me, I disagree with both extremes. Yet despite many and obvious faults, I rather like Boris, who reminds me of Donald J. Trump, who has rather grown on me in the three years he has been US President, who I believe has done more good than harm for those he serves, and hope Boris will do likewise. He is a vast improvement on the previous Prime Minister, Theresa May, and is a lot better than any of the other political leaders, notably Jeremy Corbyn. He fought a good campaign. The government program, providing he can deliver, looks promising, in particular when it comes to getting Brexit done. While I was skeptical he could deliver on Brexit, he seems to have started on the right lines, and given he has the luxury of a big parliamentary majority, he is better placed to call the shots. I was, for example, encouraged by his Christmas speeches referring to religious persecution and Jewish rights.

My concerns are first that he does deliver on Brexit but, given the transition period following leaving January 31st 2020 is needed for a smooth exit, can the UK be fully out of the EU, no strings attached and with a trade deal, by December 31st 2020? The other concern is whether he can / will deliver on manifesto promises and particularly for the poor and vulnerable? Mindful of a similar situation when Margaret Thatcher had a big majority and an opposition in disarray, I have taken note of concerns raised by some of my Christian minister friends. While I may not entirely agree with their points or believe it is right to mix religion and politics, it is right they stand up for justice and for the poor, and if the government of the day fail in these areas they speak out accordingly, especially if others don’t. As for those who see Boris as a posh boy that doesn’t understand or care for the poor and has a tendency to lie and opportunism, I do not entirely disagree, even though I see a good side to him and think he understands Workington man better than the Islington elite.

One cited the Queens Speech “The government will stop public institutions imposing their own views on international relations that are separate to those of the government, by stopping boycotts or sanctions against foreign countries and those who trade with them. This includes local authorities” and was disapproving as it undermined local democracy. Another cited a newspaper article: “Boris Johnson’s bill ‘tears up’ protections for child refugees – New bill scraps commitment to negotiate new deal for refugee children hoping to join relatives in UK” and make mention of the Dubs amendment – “In 2016, Lord Dubs sponsored an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis”.

There are many other criticisms being made about Boris and I find myself having to take note, often not coming to a fully rounded view, especially without knowing all the salient facts or of the other views. I have no doubt we are in for an interesting ride with Boris at the helm. While some will feel discomfort that I seem to be more for Boris than against, I will be watching developments and while I recognize, like us all, I have my own axioms and preferences, I will try to be fair. While I am relieved the circus of parliamentary deadlock is now behind us, I am just as concerned that now the hinderers can no longer hold up Brexit etc. that Boris is brought to task and made accountable when he does not do the right thing.

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