I Still Can’t Believe Boris Johnson Is Prime Minister!
Is This Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?
Unfortunately, this is very much real life and not just fantasy!
It is just over a week since Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, better known as Boris Johnson, became Prime Minister (PM) of the UK. Just typing these words feels a little surreal.
It is hard to believe a man who has a list of gaffes longer than most people’s list of achievements has become the leader of the country. A man whose flimsiness with the truth is one of his key selling points is now running the United Kingdom.
It is hard to believe!
How did we get to this point? How did we end up with a man who referred to black people as “picaninnies with watermelon smiles” in charge? Where do we go from here?
These are all questions that have been floating through my mind since his ‘election’ a leader of the Conservative Party and by default PM.
Is it a sign of the times that we now favour politicians who play hard and loose with the facts over those who make integrity their main selling point? When Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson can rise to power in a manner of years, there is undoubtedly something broken within politics.
Upon acceding to the highest office in the country, Johnson was quick to assure people that he would unite the country, increase public spending and deliver Brexit.
In trademark style, there was a slither of detail about how all of this would be achieved. In its place were bluster and unbridled optimism. As if we merely will better times to come they will just arrive on a winged chariot with bells on.
What will a Johnson premiership mean for the UK? Will the Brexit deadline be met? And how long will Mr Johnson last in the confines of Number 10?
Johnson’s rise to become PM represents the UK’s dizzying fall from a country lauded as a modicum of stability to a basket case of chaos in three years since the 2016 referendum on European Union membership.
No longer do we have a great statesman like Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill or William Gladstone in charge, we have a man who is more well-known for his gaffes than any achievements in his previous posts.
There have been so many gaffes during his journalistic and political career, that it is hard to come up with one definitive list. However, here are a few that he has committed:
- Crude remarks on Child Abuse investigations: Johnson claimed public money had been “spaffed up the wall” and that the money would have been better spent putting more police officers on the street.
- Referring to niqab wearers as letterboxes: Writing in his column for The Daily Telegraph, Johnson compared women who wear burqas and niqabs to letterboxes. He described the items of clothing as oppressive, stating that it was “absolutely ridiculous” that people should “choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”
- Dead bodies in Libya: Johnson got into hot water at the Conservative Party conference in October 2017 when he claimed the Libyan city of Sirte would have a bright future as a luxury resort when they “cleared the dead bodies away.”
- Referring to Africa as “that country”: At the 2016 Conservative Party conference, Johnson looked back on his first three months as Foreign Secretary by describing Africa as “that country.” He went on to suggest that the continent could benefit by adopting more British values, warning a number of leaders were leaning towards authoritarianism.
- Talking about alcohol in a Sikh temple: Johnson was berated at a Sikh temple in Bristol while he was Foreign Secretary for talking about increasing whisky exports to India. Alcohol is forbidden in Sikh faith. A female worshipper was caught admonishing him by the BBC: “How dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple?” He later apologised for his remarks.
- Reciting a colonial poem in Myanmar: Britain's ambassador to Myanmar had to stop Johnson reciting a Rudyard Kipling poem, The Road to Mandalay, while he was on a visit to the country in September 2017. Earlier, he had referred to a golden statue in the Shwedagon Padoga temple as a “very big guinea pig.”
These gaffes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Johnson. There are many, many, more that he has made during his career. That he was able to swat all of these aside and still become Prime Minister says a lot about him and a lot about the members of the Conservative Party who voted him in.
They are obviously content to elect a man who has no integrity, remorse or respect for anyone other than himself. That is to say nothing about the manner in which he was elected which was hardly democratic.
There are countless precedents for ministers becoming Prime Minister without facing a general election. Indeed, Johnson railed against Gordon Brown becoming PM in this manner in 2010, claiming it was “about as democratically proper as the transition from Claudius to Nero.”
While it may not be democratic, it is much more democratic to have elected representatives pick the next PM than a party membership which constitutes less than 1 per cent of the electorate.
160,000 Conservative Party members elected Johnson as PM. 38% of whom are over the age of 66. This is hardly a democratic election worthy of the name. In no way, shape or form does it represent Britain as a whole.
But here we are with Mr Johnson as our new PM for the foreseeable future.
Johnson’s primary objective as PM is to secure the UK’s exit from the European Union. After writing two separate articles on whether the UK should leave or remain, he plumped for leave.
It is claimed that the exercise was a Hegelian way of looking at the situation. My reading of it was that he plumped for leave in the knowledge that it would provide him with the best chance of becoming PM. A job he has craved for a long time.
He is now the man tasked with securing Brexit and judging by his record as the Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, I wouldn’t be confident about his ability to pull it off. Even if no deal is the default position come the 31st October!
During his tenure as Mayor, £53 million of public money was spent on a bridge that was never constructed. In response to the riots in 2011, Johnson ordered three water cannons at a cost of £322k. They were never used and were eventually sold for scrap.
This is a man who had no regard for taxpayers money and would throw it around like a child who had got hold of their parents credit card. Is this really the man we want in charge of our country?
Of course, he has already begun pledging more money for the police, schools and many other schemes. This is how he operates, full of bluster, but short on any kind of detail.
He has already begun a tour of the UK, visiting the various regions and reassuring them that there will not be a no-deal Brexit and he has their best interests at heart.
The irony in all of this, especially as Johnson has awarded himself the title of Minister for the Union, is that Brexit could precipitate the breakup of the Union.
For years, the Conservative Party has considered the Union as sacred. However, with the goal of leaving the European Union in sight, it appears elements of the party would be willing to sacrifice it in order to force through their long-held dream.
The boos that faced Johnson on his tour of the country this past week could turn into something much more menacing if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
For now, we are stuck with Boris Johnson as the leader of the country. A man who rivals Donald Trump for incompetence, maybe one day I will wake up and realise this was a nasty dream.
Unfortunately, for now, this is real life.