The Boris Legacy: May on Brexit, Blair on Borders, Klaus on Climate
Boris Johnson leaves office only a short time after becoming the first Conservative (Tory) leader to win a really substantial parliamentary majority since the 1980s, brought low by a series of scandals and fallout from his handling of coronavirus lockdown. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson walked out of Downing Street this morning, addressing waiting journalists before heading for Balmoral to meet the Queen and make his resignation final. All told, as Prime Minister Johnson squandered his opportunity to reform Britain post-Brexit in the most soul-crushing, inevitable, pointless way possible.
The country, despite having been led by the Conservative Party for 12 years and by Johnson himself since 2019, slips through his fingers more authoritarian, institutionally left-wing, heavily taxed, debt-laden, and crime-ridden than it was even when fresh out of the hands of Blair, Brown, and their crew of globalist gangsters in 2010. It was thought by many when Boris Johnson entered office in 2019, his snap election win clearing out the fractious House of Commons then dominated by anti-Brexiteers he inherited from Theresa May, that his would be a truly transformative premiership. Among other things, on the playbill was getting “Brexit done” and presiding over radical reform of a permanent bureaucracy, the porous immigration regime, and publicly-funded educational and “civil society” establishment dominated by woke, globalist values. In reality, the purposely scruffy Old Etonian, who historically portrayed himself as a libertarian, politically incorrect maverick as a political outsider, leaves office with almost no discernible legacy to speak of, beyond becoming the second foreigner to have a little plaque installed in the so-called Alley of Courage in Kyiv by the Ukrainian government. His remaining loyal supporters point to Boris having taken Britain out of the European Union, but key Brexiteers know Johnson’s deal is, in fact, the reheated and incomplete version of Brexit virtually indistinguishable from that pursued by Theresa May — which he once condemned as “vassalage, satrapy, colony status for the UK.” These are what a perhaps overly-generous observer might describe as positive legacies, at any rate — although public perception of Johnson throwing himself body and soul into becoming a distant second to Joe Biden in shovelling arms and money into Ukraine may change, depending on how the war eventually ends and how bad the looming energy crisis he has told the public they must endure gets. His negative legacies, particularly from a traditional conservative viewpoint, are painfully clear, however. An illegal immigration crisis in the English Channel that gets embarrassingly, exponentially worse seemingly with every passing month, in total defiance of repeated government claims that resolution is right around the corner, with migrants, sometimes extremely violent, now costing taxpayers billions of pounds — but lining the pockets of corporate actors like Serco — as they are put up in three-star hotels across the country. An increasingly lawless society, where police-recorded rapes, general sexual offences, and crimes of violence against the person are at their highest since comparable records began in 2002, foreign convicts are lost in their hundreds, and criminal barristers are poised to strike indefinitely. Yet woke police forces can somehow still find the time to log 120,000 so-called “non-crime hate incidents”, arrest military veterans for sharing memes, and dance the macarena at Pride marches. A “points-based” immigration regime which voters — especially the Brexit voters who gifted Johnson his impressive majority — were told would “take back control” after decades of the European Union tying the government’s hands behind its back, but which has actually resulted in more visas being issued to foreigners than ever before, with bosses no longer even required to see British workers might be found to fill a position before they can turn to cheap overseas labour. Boris Johnson leaves his successor — a strident anti-Brexit campaigner who was once a high-level activist in the woke Liberal Democrat party, but now claims to have turned over a new leaf and was, somehow, anointed as the “right-wing” candidate in the race to replace Johnson — many more pressing problems, of course. Brexit, far from being “done”, remains an extremely live issue in Northern Ireland, which was effectively ceded to the European Union — contrary to his vociferous pre-premiership campaigning that he would never sell the British province out to Brussels as a “semi-colony” — with the EU widely believed to be using its powers there to disrupt trade with the Great British mainland, and angry Unionists once courted by Johnson not allowing a regional government to be formed as a result. Other Brexit issues remain as well, with the British fishing industry, for example, sold out by Johnson as Heath sold it out in the 1970s, and likely to be sold out once again the first time quotas and so forth are renegotiated — but much of the British public, exhausted by years of trench warfare on the issue, seem unwilling to face any of them, and content to delude themselves that Johnson settled the issue. An issue that cannot be ignored, however, is a cost of living crisis driven by rampant inflation and energy shortages, currently fuelling strikes by struggling dockers, rail workers, rubbish collectors, and others crippling much national infrastructure and leaving cities covered in filth. Johnson has tried to blame the crisis entirely on Vladimir Putin, but it has undoubtedly been exacerbated by his own full-throated endorsement of a green net-zero agenda and neglect of energy security. As an outsider, Johnson once penned florid opinion pieces with titles like ‘Ignore the doom merchants, Britain should get fracking’, extolling the virtues of a technology that offered “the hope of cheap electricity [that] would make Britain once again competitive” in industry and rubbishing highly-subsidised wind turbines as “white satanic mills” despoiling the country’s hills and dales without making any meaningful contribution to energy independence. However, as Prime Minister — the ultimate insider — he perpetuated a blanket ban on fracking, embraced wind, brought forward a ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2030, and indulged green activists campaigning to block the opening of Britain’s first coal mine in decades, among many other moves totally contrary to the carefully managed persona that got him into Downing Street. Johnson’s greatest legacy of all, however, may be the repressive lockdowns imposed on Britain’s citizenry in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic — the true cause of the cost of living crisis, according to evidence submitted to the Pandemic Response and Recovery All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in June. Few will have been satisfied with his worst-of-all worlds approach to this crisis, with his government initially proving bizarrely obstinate in refusing to stop or even meaningfully monitor arrivals from virus-stricken countries like China and Italy in its early days, but wildly draconian in the imposition of domestic restrictions later, with police encouraging mass snitching, harassing members of the public walking along in remote hills with drones, and instructing people — wrongly — that they were not allowed out into their own front gardens and forcing them indoors.
The whole repressive system lost credibility among many members of the public, however, when the Black Lives Matter unrest of 2020 crossed the Atlantic, with activists allowed to throng the streets of the British capital and other cities vandalising statues and memorials in total defiance of the regulations even as elderly people in care homes remained largely banned from seeing their children and grandchildren. Most infamously, Johnson himself ultimately ended up falling foul of his own Byzantine restrictions, being fined for having a piece of cake at work on his birthday — an absurd “scandal” in the eyes of many, but in line with similarly pointless rulings imposed on ordinary people — which helped set the dominos falling for his involuntary departure from office. Despite lockdown now being largely rescinded, however, its long-term consequences are not just financial, with many members of the public now having the sense that supposedly inalienable civil liberties can be rescinded at any time, even by notionally “libertarian” leaders, and their trust irreparably damaged. A general erosion of trust in the establishment — what little remained of it — may be Johnson’s true legacy. His rise from a sort of comic fan favourite among Tory activists to, on paper, the most powerful prime minister since Tony Blair, was driven by a belief among a party grassroots repeatedly let down by conservative-in-name-only leaders that their priorities would finally be respected, and among working-class non-Tories who lent their votes to him in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ parliamentary constituencies (electoral districts) which were once solidly for Labour, thinking he was someone who would actually deliver for them on Brexit, immigration, and rolling back wokery. He delivered on none of this, serving up the same fraudulent “Brexit” that had appalled them when presented by Theresa May, accelerating mass migration, increasing the tax burden to its heaviest in 70 years, and offering only the occasional, faintly embarrassed criticism of institutional wokery — even allowing it to take over the £120m ‘Festival of Brexit’ in comprehensive fashion — while focusing his efforts on winning the praise of Davos attendees for his climate change activism and playacting as a much less convincing Winston Churchill in Ukraine. In all likelihood, the country is little different for Boris Johson having led it than it would have been if Theresa May had never been ousted, so slavishly did he submit to the modish, left-liberal priorities of the establishment status quo the moment he secured the power he had craved for decades, with no more sense of what he actually wanted to do with it than a bland machine politician like his old Bullingdon Club compatriot, David Cameron. Time will tell if his successor, too, is just more of the same. .
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