LONDON – Boris Johnson, for whom lying is as easy as breathing, is about to become prime minister. He faces the most complex and persistent political crisis to influence Britain since 1945.
That should worry enough. But given the British political system – which depends on maintaining the character and disposition of the Prime Minister – it carries even greater imports. Mr. Johnson, whose lazy is proverbial and opportunism legendary, is a man who is well versed in cheating, a pander who is willing to tickle the prejudices of his audience for easy gain. His private life is incontinent, his public report is not consistent.
And his premiership could bring about the end of Britain itself.
The state of the United Kingdom, a constitutional pact founded in 1922 and which has been stretching in one form or another for centuries, is seriously tense. Although the Brexit is mainly driven by English passions, two of the four areas in the Union – Northern Ireland and Scotland – voted to stay. Both cause immediate problems for Mr. Johnson – and for the future of Great Britain.
In Scotland, resentment led to the feeling that the country's voice counts for little and the subsequent repeated attacks of parliamentary chaos have led to renewed calls for a second vote of independence. Nicola Sturgeon, the prime minister, maintains that Scotland will hold one if the Brexit takes place. One of the most useful politicians in Britain, Mrs Sturgeon, knows that despite the widespread doubts about Brexit, the majority needed for independence does not currently exist. But recent polling suggests that a Johnson government could tilt the scales to its advantage. An independent Scotland can be evoked from the chicanery of Mr. Johnson & # 39; s rule.
In Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson is obliged to the Democratic Unionist Party, a tough Northern Irish Protestant party that he will depend on for a majority in Parliament. That means a major breach of his room for maneuver, while he is somehow trying to get Britain out of the European Union. The D.U.P. will not tolerate the separation from the rest of the UK – hence the so-called backstop, in fact an insurance plan to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and its southern neighbor, made the three times rejected deal by Theresa May fatal. It is hard to see how Mr. Johnson can escape this problem, whose protraction can be crucial to the country's internal policies. The call for a united Ireland, encouraged by demographic changes and diminishing unionist sentiments, seems to be receiving more support.
The traditional solution to such a deadlock is calling new elections. But here too there are problems for Mr. Johnson. The current polls show a fluctuating four-way split with the Brexit party of Nigel Farage, who peeled off a large part of the conservative vote in the recent European elections, the Liberal Democrats and the Labor Party. Tory activists believe that only Mr. Johnson can bring the believers back from Mr. Farage, but if he directs the party farther to the right, he will probably lose more liberal reclining seats. Although the temptation of an overwhelming victory over Mr. Johnson's vanity is possible, the risk of a disastrous return from a split base, transferring Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn, and destroying the Tories will certainly be too great. And every successor to Mrs. May will fear the unpredictability of a quick election.
No way out then. And the overall political situation has only worsened since Mrs May's resignation. The European Union – which was only established after the parliamentary elections, with a new head of the committee who explicitly excluded the reopening of negotiations with Great Britain – is likely to fall short of patience and goodwill. (Of course, it doesn't help that his officials consider Mr. Johnson a dangerous blow.)
At home, the rise of the Brexit party further limits its options. Partly to nullify the threat, he has promised that unless a deal is reached by the end of October, the deadline for Britain's departure from the bloc, he will leave without a deal. And since Parliament, which remains stubbornly divided, will most likely not approve anything that Mr Johnson is presenting, an exit from No Deal seems far from impossible. The consequences of such a development are unforeseeable – but they will certainly not benefit Great Britain.
So the political situation is bad, the room for maneuver limited, the stakes high. For another politician, taking power in such circumstances would be daunting – but not necessarily dangerous. In a system that grants prime ministers significant autonomy and is dependent on their correctness, it is important. The same scenario can come out differently in different hands. That is why the analysis eventually returns to Mr. Johnson and his terrible personality.
He wins the victory over the government – his first ambition as a child was to & # 39; world king & # 39; – and his political career was characterized by cruelty of campaigning and indifference in the office, both as a London mayor and a foreign minister. His contempt for criticism can be clearly seen: he was annoyed and petulant when he was challenged about spending cuts, wasting government money on vanity projects or diplomatic blunders. His easy talk of parliamentary prorogation – the effective suspension of the legislature – can be a taste of the coming chaos.
He seems to have no principles. At the end of the & # 39; 90 he told a surprised colleague that he & # 39; was afraid I have no political opinion & # 39; – before presenting a hit parade of right-wing classics about & # 39; picanninies & # 39; and & # 39; bum boys & # 39; would rehearse in his Telegraph column. Although the insight into the void in the heart of Mr. Blond's ambition Johnson is striking, his politics are a number of constants, apart from his spectacular liarity: his defense of bankers and the pursuit of tax cuts, and an aversion to those who call him to account about facts.
The reality will be inevitable on October 31, but Mr. Johnson is bluffing. Predictions about Brexit generally presuppose too much stability in the status quo; Johnson & # 39; s smoothness makes it harder to predict. Tackling the deep division of Britain requires depth of character, conviction and principle, none of which has come through the incoming prime ministers.
In Johnson & # 39; s nauseous novel, fortunately being the only one so far, a thinly disguised Boris-like politician thinks that "the whole world just seemed to be a complicated joke."
Britain is about to discover what it feels like to be the punch line.
James Butler (@piercepenniless) is a co-founder of Novara Media whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The London Review of Books and Vice.
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