We have a new prime minister
Boris Johnson has achieved his long-term (lifelong?) ambition by becoming the new U.K. prime minister. His primary aim is to ensure that Brexit happens by 31st October, deal or no deal. He has therefore appointed a right-wing, pro-Brexit cabinet comprising a frighteningly reactionary home secretary previously relieved of a ministerial post for illicit dealings with Israel, a foreign secretary who doesn’t seem to know that our country is surrounded by sea, a defence secretary with a track record for divulging state secrets, and other outstanding luminaries. We are blessed.
The first week in office for a prime minister is considered the beginning of the ‘honeymoon period’. Everyone, including the man himself, is aware that Mr Johnson is a controversial and divisive figure, so it was essential for him to take full advantage of the ‘bounce’ that always accompanies a new appointment. To this end he has promised generous-looking though not fully adequate (or in some cases, fully practicable) payments to boost the NHS and police recruitment, which are sure to be popular policies. He’s made it clear that he is a dynamic, get-things-done leader who will “stand up to the EU”, which will be lauded by the right-wing press.
He’s also toured the country, being bullish but apparently seeking any location that appears china-shop-ish. As a result he’s been greeted everywhere by boos and cat-calls and has on several occasions been shepherded into the safety of his official car looking more like a man who’s just been arrested than a visiting prime minister. Also, during this first week of his term of office, he’s lost a by-election. The Brecon and Radnor constituency lost its roughly 8000 Conservative majority and is now a Liberal Democrat seat. Mr Johnson’s overall majority in the House of Commons is now 1. (Yes, one.) And the dozen Scottish Conservative MPs are among the several of his back-benchers who won’t support his Brexit plans; and the DUP’s support is dubious…
If this is the honeymoon, the prognosis for the marriage isn’t great.
President Trump has hailed Mr Johnson as a kindred spirit. Perhaps, indeed, the two men have several characteristics in common: attitude to women, attitude to non-White people, flexible relationship with truth, superficiality of judgment, penchant for putting mouth in gear without ensuring brain is engaged, and remarkable hair. They’re both vivid characters, but are they the sorts of characters we want to lead our respective countries?