Boris Johnson Opts For His Santa Claus Election

Photograph Source: Matt Brown – CC BY 2.0

BoJo ran out of rope when all his gambits intended to bounce parliament into accepting his Brexit deal got nowhere (as was widely predicted). The EU accepted his deal, but he wanted it rushed through parliament to meet his 31st October deadline, and parliament failed to oblige.

BoJo, never one to shun bombast, had promised to “die in a ditch” if Brexit did not take place by Halloween.

Few took BoJo’s deadline seriously, except for the hardline Brexit loons who hang on his every word.

Members of his immediate family say publicly they don’t trust him, so what hope is there left for the rest of us?

The only option left for “dead in the ditch” BoJo was to shelve his deal and seek a snap general election, which will now be held on 12th December.

BoJo is hoping to tap into the exhaustion resentful voters now feel about the endless Brexit delays, and the cornerstone of his campaign is to blame the “anti-people” parliament for these stoppages. He’s also promised to deliver Brexit by mid-January if elected.

This pretense of a having a “people’s election” is precisely that—a sham. For once The Guardian got it right:

“Mr Johnson wasted time after attaining office by not talking to the EU. He then unlawfully prorogued parliament to evade scrutiny. Mr Johnson came out with a set of proposals that were unacceptable to Brussels before being swiftly amended. There was no way MPs would permit Britain to be bundled out of the EU with no deal or on terms that threaten jobs, the economy, peace in Northern Ireland or the union with Scotland. The courts and MPs did not allow the prime minister to disregard proper procedure – to their credit, because a future government could use the precedent established for more sinister purposes. Mr Johnson does not care about such things. His calculations revolve around naked self-interest and power”.

It will be interesting to see how BoJo campaigns in the election, after having abandoned his promise to die in a ditch by Halloween.

When he ran for the leadership of the Tory party, BoJo’s handlers did their best to hide their gaffe-prone boss from party members, journalists, and the public.

BoJo’s handlers got away with this strategy then, but shielding a candidate who professes to be a “man of the people” from “the people” in a nationwide election was never going to be as easy.

Johnson’s team will have to let loose their bumbling but over-confident leader, and take their chances with whomever he encounters.

BoJo’s first public appearance did not go according to plan (if indeed there was one).

A politician who is on record as wanting to sell-off the NHS to the private sector would be advised not to visit an NHS hospital as a PR stunt.

However, BoJo’s handlers, aware that the Tory record on the NHS is a weak spot in their campaign platform, decided their candidate should display some fake love for the NHS by visiting the university hospital in Cambridge for a photo op.

BoJo was booed off the hospital premises by medical staff, patients, and visitors. His visit was covered by mainstream media, including the pusillanimous BBC, which did not however mention the raucous send-off given BoJo in the reception lobby at Addenbrookes hospital.

Social media though was more diligent in its coverage and did full justice to BoJo’s cynical visit to Addenbrookes.

Social media also had a field day with the Tory election slogan “Britain deserves better”. Given that the Conservatives have been in office since 2010, and made a complete pig’s ear of Brexit, the PR team responsible for this deeply ironical slogan should perhaps be banished by Tory HQ to the mansion of Prince Charles and made to flat-iron Charlie Boy’s shoelaces each morning.

The old adage “with friends like this you don’t need enemies” has always been applicable to Nigel Farage, the ever-opportunistic grifter who leads the far-right Brexit party, who has proven himself to be even more adept at lying than Johnson.

Farage pretends to be an ally of the Tories in wanting Brexit, but issued them an ultimatum: form an electoral alliance with us or else my Brexit party will field candidates in all seats in the election.

Farage had one condition, given that he considered BoJo’s shelved deal with the EU to be a “lousy” one–  a No Deal Brexit had to be on the table for Farage’s pact with the Tories to be implemented.

Farage’s condition is designed to peel-off hardcore Brexiters—most of them far-right nationalists, Little Englander xenophobes, and white supremacists– from the Conservatives, something BoJo can ill-afford to have happen.

At the same time, Farage’s seemingly uncompromising No Deal Brexit condition for a  pact with the Conservatives could drive Tories opposed to Brexit (and they do exist) into the arms of the Remainer almost-Tory Lib Dems.

Farage also had a fawning interview with Donald Trump on LBC radio.

Corbyn would be “so bad” for the UK, the “America First” president told Farage’s listeners, quite unaware that his huge unpopularity with Brits meant this message was bound to backfire.

Trump, unaware of the competition between Farage and BoJo for Brexit voters, sought to give BoJo and his Brexit deal a boost in this interview, but ended-up guaranteeing that BoJo would now be linked to someone regarded by many Ukanians as America’s sick joke on the world.

Meanwhile Johnson continues to come-up with his trademark whoppers.

On Sunday, The Daily Telegraph was forced to correct a column written by BoJo, in  which he falsely claimed the UK is set to “become the largest and most prosperous economy in this hemisphere”, i.e. that the UK will overtake Germany as an economic power “in our lifetimes”.

The reality is quite different. The World Bank’s GDP-by-country rankings shows something that is not on the horizon for Johnson— e.g. that far from overtaking Germany, the UK is about to be overtaken by India (UK $2,825,208 vs India $2,726,323).

I’ll be in London next week to get a further sense of the directions taken by the election campaigns of the main parties.

We already know that Nigel Farage has declined to stand as a candidate for parliament in the election.

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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