I have to confess – I still haven’t altogether made my mind up about Boris Johnson, following my launch of my Boriswatch series (see here), two months ago, when I thought, by now, I would have. He shares many of the characteristics of his friend and US counterpart, Donald J Trump, who I see as a flawed character but the best of the alternatives and overall good for America and the world. Like DJT, Boris lies and shares some of his flaws, and also he gets needful things done, but right now I am not entirely convinced.
He delivered on his main campaign promise – to get Brexit done (well sort of), and is making many of the right noises and from what I can make out, moves, in this post Brexit era, including standing up to EU bullying, which his predecessors failed to do. With the luxury of a commanding majority in Parliament and an opposition in disarray he is in a good position to consolidate and capitalize on his newly found power, and has showed himself adept in doing so but with a sense of ruthlessness, in a way some critics might see as dictatorship tending that has been evidenced in several ways. Yet to a large extent, how we see Boris depends on how we see the world.
His cabinet reshuffle and the shock decision of his “self-respecting” and “did he jump or was he pushed” chancellor, Sajid Javid, to stand down revealed not only did he appoint his men and women to important positions but he could get away with it without having to appease all sections of his party etc. He is also able to promote those more likely to support whatever agenda he has, i.e. special advisors rather than those democratically elected, e.g. Dominic Cummings. As for deporting certain residents whose UK resident status was not settled, he seems to have got away with it, raising questions whether he can / will override judicial opposition in the same way he can with the legislature. His giving Chinese company, Huawei, a big piece of the cake for developing UK’s 5G network is worrying given they are bad people. As for giving the go ahead for HS2, while I am all for improving infrastructure, I think that money could be better spent. I also worry that he is pandering to the climate crisis lobby, not so much because he believes in it but it may be politically expedient. He is a clever media manipulator but frustratingly deals with soundbites and ducks tough interviews if it doesn’t aid his cause. He appears beyond his evident charm to be quite ruthless and is ambitious more than he is principled, and tells the odd porky.
While all the above seems somewhat damming and unlike the Donald he has yet, in my book, to make the transition from antipathy to support, I am far from writing Boris off. He may well be the best of the alternatives right now and this has been demonstrated with the way he led Britain out of the EU, although having a majority in Parliament was decisive. if he gets the right people around him (I don’t know enough about his cabinet and other minister picks to comment) he could help realise the hopes of those who voted for him, including the disaffected working class Labourites who lent him their votes. In his favour, he shares some of the anti-globalist fervor of Trump and may well end up getting the UK great deals with USA and other international partners. He is pro-Israel and sees the dangers of Islam. He is also refreshingly politically incorrect and says it how it is. Besides relating well to common folk, he understands the populist and sovereign nation leaning sentiments of those who want their country back and be free rather than being sucked into some sinister globalist agenda. I suspect, whatever his motives, he is a pragmatist that is able to get things done and by force of personality get detractors onside and rightly tell the “elites”, who think they know best, where to go. On a much lighter note, I love his witty quotes and classical insights.
Whether or not he will deliver on all his promises and our hopes, heal and inspire a nation where hope is at a premium, and deliver on his one nation conservatism rhetoric, all remains to be seen and likely he will be constrained by events beyond his control. As with the Donald, no way would I want Boris to pastor my church, but when it comes to leading our great nation, that is another matter. I am skeptical on many fronts, yet I am also mildly optimistic.