IS BORIS SERIOUSLY FOCUSED ON DELIVERING BREXIT?
For those of us that want to see Brexit delivered and, in particular, are hopeful of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, Boris Johnson has made various remarks that his friend and campaign advisor, Sir Lynton Crosby would call ‘Dog Whistles’, that is remarks which call us back to heel like well-trained dogs!
Of course these remarks might be genuine expressions of Boris’ personal determination and ideological commitment to Brexit “Do or die!”
Alternatively these remarks might well be being said by Boris Johnson purely for reasons of expediency. It would therefore be worth reminding ourselves of Boris’ history.
The first thing I should say is that I do personally like Boris’ style. He is clearly an absolute star and a magnetic personality and performer with tremendous charisma. He has genuine leadership ability which makes a fantastic change from the dispiriting lack of it of Theresa May and her inner circle. That said let’s consider his position.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in the United States and when he attended Oxford University his former tutor at Balliol confirmed that he did so as an American citizen.
More recently as MP for Henley and Editor of the Spectator and then as Mayor of London, Boris had seemed enthusiastically Europhile.
I remember in a TV programme which he did enthusing on the topic that the EU was the new Roman Empire. He suggested that what we now needed was a new Caesar Augustus!
He also at one stage enthusiastically endorsed the idea of Turkey, the land of his Great Grandfather, Ali Kamal (one of the last Sultan’s ministers), joining the EU.
We then have the occasion when he decided to come out as supporting Leave once David Cameron had called the EU referendum in 2016. During that campaign he made all sorts of remarks which pleased us Leave supporters.
However it should be borne in mind that he had done two draft speeches. One supporting Remain and David Cameron, the other coming out for Leave. David Cameron has also apparently confirmed that he thought Boris did not believe in Brexit.
I would therefore say it is not clear that Boris coming out for Leave was about commitment and principle, rather than about career and opportunity.
There is also Boris’ family background which is very Europhile, globalist, multi-racial, multi-cultural and metropolitan elitist. Perhaps not the typical seed bed of patriotism and nationalism!
Now we turn to what is going on at the moment. Boris has obviously got the leadership of the Conservative Party, partly on the basis of his personality but also partly on the basis of promising to deliver Brexit “Do or die”. Brexit has therefore been very useful to his career ambitions.
When Boris became Prime Minister, Stephen Barclay became the New Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. The two of them still could have agreed by Consent that our case “Defend Brexit” would win and agreed that there be a Declaration that we were out on the 29th.
Indeed, we could have agreed some other date where we would be out if the Government thought there was any reason for having a different date.
Instead of doing this, despite the fact that Boris, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Stephen Barclay and many Conservative MPs had been lobbied about it, the Government’s lawyers wrote to me and to the Court of Appeal saying that they had received instructions to reiterate the Government’s pleaded Defence. Although I have asked for confirmation of who ordered it but I think it highly unlikely that that would have been written if the new Prime Minister and Secretary of State had not ordered it.
A lot of the noise and froth which we read in the media or hear from Boris’ supporters is that he is being almost martyred for the issue of Brexit by the parliamentary Remainers, it is nevertheless worth pausing and considering that Boris had several opportunities to prevent the then Bill becoming law. The Conservative Peers had lined up many amendments which would have filibustered the Bill so that it could not pass through the House of Lords before Parliament was prorogued and would therefore have been lost. It has been reported that Boris personally stood the Conservative Peers down and enabled the Bill to pass without objection.
He also could have refused or delayed Royal Assent to the Bill. There would then have been a further row about whether that was proper to do, but the time would have ticked away and we would have been closer to achieving Brexit with ‘No Deal’.
He has now signalled that he would consider a ‘No Deal’ Brexit to be a failure. It is also worth remembering that on the third occasion he did actually vote for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Deal, which, of course, is really more of an abject and almost unconditional surrender document. From this we can draw the certain conclusion that Boris is not ideologically committed to opposing Theresa May’s deal. The question of the deal is purely a matter of expediency for him.
We will see over the coming weeks whether he does take any decisions which advance the chances of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, or whether he in fact prevents that from happening behind a cloak of ‘Dog Whistle’ remarks to Leavers.
So you might ask me what I think Boris is actually trying to achieve if it is not a clean break Brexit?
My answer would be that I think what he is trying to achieve is a General Election with him having a good chance of using the Brexit issue to enable him to destroy the Brexit Party and to get a large majority as a result of the election.
If that election takes place before the 31st October I wouldn’t then be at all surprised if Boris quickly signs us up to what to all intent and purposes is Theresa May’s deal.
The amusing commentator Rod Liddall suggested that what Boris would sign us up to was “Theresa May’s pig of a deal which Boris had put lipstick and rouge on”!
What do you think?