By guest contributor – Nick Eriksen
Boris Johnson once proclaimed that he was a great fan of the punk rock band The Clash (I kid you not) so he will certainly know their single Should I Stay Or Should I Go. As he ponders this very question, the options before him are bleak, as the very apposite lyrics explain: “If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double”. But how has the-man-who-would-be-world-king (that was his childhood ambition) come to such a sorry pass? Just over two years ago he was the conquering hero who had won a general election and had an overwhelming parliamentary majority of 80. He had demolished Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, had taken the UK out of the EU (well, not quite, but more on this later) and had achieved an “epoch-making political realignment” which, it was blithely assumed by political commentators, meant that he would not only walk the following general election but probably even the one after that. But if, as Harold Wilson once said, “a week is a long time in politics”, then two years is an eternity, and now, with one scandal after another, with police investigations following official enquiries, and with more and more letters of no confidence being sent by Tory MPs to Graham Brady (leader of the Conservative Party ‘1922 Committee’ who will hold a formal vote of all Tory MPs on Boris’s leadership if he receives 54 such letters), many question whether Boris Johnson will still be prime minister by the end of the month.
Boris believes he is the blameless victim of a leaks and briefing war by his erstwhile adviser Dominic Cummings, whom he compares to Shakespeare’s scheming and deceitful Iago to his tragic Othello. Given his support for mass immigration and amnesties for illegal immigrants, let’s just hope that Boris does not take this analogy too far and don a ‘blackface’ – he has enough troubles already! It is certainly true that Cummings has a vendetta against him, and this is not a man you want as your enemy, with David Cameron describing him as a ‘career psychopath’. But the stories that Cummings is leaking are hitting home for two reasons: firstly, because they are true, and people feel justifiably aggrieved that while they were forced to obey the appalling, idiotic, police-state, lockdown restrictions (which have now been calculated to have only reduced deaths by a negligible 0.2%!), Boris, his wife Carrie (to whom we shall return) and the staff at number 10 were enjoying themselves partying. Voters do not like to be laughed at and treated as fools. The argument that Johnson’s critics are hypocrites because most of them flouted the rules too, just doesn’t wash. While I suspect it is true that most people did indeed break the rules when they could, they did so because they realised the stupidity and pointlessness of the restrictions, but Boris Johnson was the one who wrote the rules and who imposed them on the rest of us, so he is therefore the one person in the country who cannot be excused for breaking them!
The other reason these accusations are having such an impact is simply because the media has nothing positive to write about instead. After two years as PM, with a commanding parliamentary majority, what exactly has Boris Johnson achieved? Nothing. What popular policies has he introduced? None. How many promises has he kept? Zero. But “Boris Got Brexit Done!’ his simple-minded supporters scream at me whenever I dare to question his achievements. But did he? The 2019 Conservative manifesto stated (in bold!) “We will keep the UK out of the single market, out of any form of customs union, and end the role of the European Court of Justice.” But the UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the latter is still tied to all three of these EU institutions as a result of the treacherous Northern Ireland Protocol devised and signed by Boris Johnson himself. So he has deliberately failed to deliver the Brexit he promised us. The result of Boris’s resolute refusal to revoke the reviled Protocol and end his betrayal of Britain and his failure to free Northern Ireland from the clutches of Brussels and Dublin has resulted in the instability that we can see there now.
To digress for a moment, some English nationalists are contemptuous of the benefits of the Union with Northern Ireland (and Scotland and Wales too, for that matter) but they are wrong. United, the UK is stronger than the sum of its parts. The argument that these regions are economically burdensome would see us separate from not just these regions but swathes of northern England too, leaving us no more than an offshore Luxembourg – wealthy, but globally insignificant and unable to defend ourselves or our national interests. Besides, it is not just in Northern Ireland that the evidence of Boris’s humiliating capitulation to the EU can be seen. Just ask Britain’s fishermen, who have to watch helplessly as EU fishing boats continue to pillage our waters. Or look at the billions we are still paying Brussels, years after having nominally left the EU. No my friends, Boris did not ‘get Brexit done’; it was us, the British people who voted for him and trusted him, who were ‘done’ – done up like kippers made from the herring taken from British waters by EU fishermen and then sold back to us while they laugh at our alleged ‘sovereignty’ and the (broken) manifesto promise to take “full control of our fishing waters”.
But Boris has not only betrayed Britain over Europe, he has also failed to keep his manifesto promises in other areas too. On the very first page of his manifesto Boris gave us a personal “guarantee” that “We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance”. Like the rest of his promises, this one wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. National Insurance is going up by 1.25 percentage points in April. This represents a 10.4% increase for most people (who will see their NI rate rise from 12% to 13.25%) and is just another hammer blow following a series of price increases created by Boris Johnson’s fanatical and insane obsession with ‘net zero’. It is the demented pursuit of extreme environmental idiocy that has led to domestic fuel prices escalating out of control. The government may claim that the net zero commitment was in the manifesto, but the truth is that this merely committed the UK to a “target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050”. Last year, out of the blue, Boris went bonkers and pledged to “decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2035”. Bringing forward this net zero commitment by 15 years is as irrational as it is inane. The UK’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions is less than 1%, and that of our electricity system is even more minuscule and is hardly noticeable. Compare that to China’s approximate 30% share of global greenhouse gas emissions – and rising! So the pain and cost to the UK of completely decarbonising our electricity system by 2035 is utterly pointless. It just makes each and every one of us poorer, destroys our industries and makes us reliant on imports from countries that hate us. It is hard to imagine a more stupid policy.
And what of the manifesto promise that the government would “control immigration”? The never-ending flotilla of boats full of migrants seeking to enter the UK illegally has demonstrated what a grotesque lie that was. The government has not turned one single boat back – despite promises, hollow as usual, to do so – and the Border Force has changed its role from protecting Britain’s borders to acting as a taxi service helping anyone and everyone who wishes to come here. The flood of migrants has been so huge that the government doesn’t even know where to put them all, and has resorted to placing them in four-star hotels across the country, at a cost of over £1.7 billion a year. But hey, what does Boris care – it’s not the government’s money, is it? No, it’s yours.
‘But what about covid?’ some of you will be asking. And indeed – what about it? Boris Johnson has tried to use this as a ‘get out of jail’ card, but in truth the response to the pandemic was wrong-headed in almost every respect. The vaccine roll-out, the bit where, ironically, the government had least involvement, was the only moderately successful element of what was otherwise a textbook case of the cure being worse than the disease. It would take another full article to go into detail how the government blundered like a bull in a china shop, destroying the economy and overturning centuries of hard-won liberties. And even the most generous observer would be hard-put to explain why those ministers who were not involved in the response to covid – basically every minister apart from the PM, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Health (when he wasn’t canoodling with his bit on the side) – could not have got on with delivering in their areas of responsibility. The truth is that it wasn’t covid that was responsible for the government’s incompetence – it was Boris. Boris has failed to deliver on every single promise he has made to us, from fighting wokery to defending freedom of expression, from controlling left-wing judges to changing the BBC licence fee, from revising the Human Rights laws to keeping the ‘triple lock’ on pensions to protect their value. A ‘Boris promise’ is like a mayfly, that dies within 24 hours of emerging. And like a mayfly, whose sole purpose in its short life is procreation, so it seems with bed-hopping Boris, who has managed to sire at least seven children (or maybe more, the number is in doubt) from at least three women (or maybe more). At least he seems to be good at something.
Having toiled so hard for the ultimate prize, finally grasping it in a bright but all-too-brief flash of hope and glory, only to waste every opportunity afforded to him and finally to lose it (probably!) in ignominious shame, Boris’s prime ministerial reign certainly has a distinct whiff of Shakespearian tragedy about it – but his latest squeeze, Carrie Johnson, is much more redolent of the ruthless and ambitious Lady Macbeth than Othello’s innocent bride Desdemona. Her most common sobriquet however is ‘Carrie Antoinette’, and she does indeed share many traits with Louis XVI’s ill-fated consort, such as her extravagant tastes (her refurbishment of Downing Street with gold wallpaper cost over £112,000) and her love of partying (it was she who allegedly organised the lockdown-breaking birthday party where Boris Johnson was “ambushed with a cake” as Tory MP Conor Burns said – or ‘let him eat cake’ as Carrie Antoinette might have said!). But the most reprehensible resemblance between them is her interference in politics. She calls officials, texts ministers and it is reported that “Former Downing Street insiders report feeling Carrie could make her husband change his mind, sometimes overnight, on an issue they thought was already agreed. The prime minister would also tell aides that if he didn’t take a particular course of action, it would anger his wife.” The combination of a demanding, scheming wife and a weak, uxorious husband is never going to end well, but when that husband is the prime minister this is not just a family problem but a national one. It is widely reported that Boris Johnson hired and fired staff at Downing Street at Carrie’s behest, including, of course, the sacking of Dominic Cummings, after which it’s claimed she held yet another party where she played Abba’s hit The Winner Takes It All. Is it still so funny now, dear?
Which takes us full circle to where we started: the fallout from Boris’s illegal parties and the question of whether he should stay or go. Each to their own, of course, but I cannot see the point of keeping a prime minister who is intent on betraying the country, breaking his every promise and making us all poorer. ‘I’ll change!’ Boris is now promising Tory MPs. But he won’t. As a former editor of the Spectator magazine, Boris will know that it is named after the original publication of that name which was co-founded in 1711 by Joseph Addison, who like Boris was a writer and a politician. And as he famously remarked: “Men may change their climate, but they cannot change their nature. A man that goes out a fool cannot ride or sail himself into common sense”.