Despite the act, Boris Johnson knows what he’s doing. And what he’s doing isn’t going to be good for our economy, our politics, or our country’s reputation around the world.
He has a cabinet full of zealots, Mavericks, and several ministers already sacked for misconduct. Gavin Williamson, sacked for leaking state secrets is, unbelievably, now in charge of educating our nation’s youth. Priti Patel, sacked for having secret meetings with a foreign nation with no officials present to take notes is now, unbelievably, in charge of our intelligence agencies and national security.
But more worrying than this is who he is surrounding himself with inside Number 10. Dominic Cummings was the man who brought Cambridge Analytica into our politics during the referendum. He was summonsed by a committee of MPs to come and discuss previous comments he’d made, possibly misleading parliament, and simply refused. As a result he’s one of only a handful of people to be found in contempt of parliament. Well, now he’s our prime minister’s most important advisor. David Cameron described this man as a ‘career psychopath’, perhaps the only thing he ever got right!
Why should we worry? Because these people don’t play by the rules, they don’t even stick to the law. They believe that a weakened economy and disempowered country is a price worth paying to leave the EU. Worst of all, they are willing to put your livelihoods and well-being on the line to pursue their political vision. We have the first government in history that is knowingly making all of us poorer with fewer opportunities as a matter of policy.
The people running our country are dangerous but they’re no fools. They know what they are doing and they no price is too high for them to achieve it. So people like me are going to have to really up our game and adjust to this new world pretty quickly.
I sat in the chamber on Thursday as the new prime minister jabbed his finger, threw insults around like confetti, and repeated his mantra about optimism like he was channelling the Maybot.
I was bobbing away trying to catch the speaker’s eye but every few moments the question I wanted to ask changed. When you have a circus like this going off in front of you it’s quite difficult to figure out how to react.
The prime minister said in answer to a question that he was looking forward to enhancing workers’ rights after Brexit. I then heard the words ‘Peter Kyle’ ring out from the Speaker’s direction so I asked, ‘precisely which workers’ rights does he want to enhance that we are prohibited from enhancing as members of the EU?’
The answer: ‘errr…..err…..well that will be for the House to decide’. There was uproar because, or course, he was talking out of his backside. If he cared about workers’ rights he’d have been able to talk about them. And if he cared about governing he’d have known that it was his job to introduce new rights to parliament, not for parliament to just do it while the prime minister and government sit idly by.
It will take time to really understand how to make an impact on our new government, but I know we don’t have much time so I can promise you I’m working really hard to adjust and equip myself for this new, often surreal, period we’ve entered.
Where now? Boris Johnson has promised billions in new spending and yet more billions in controversial tax cuts for business and high earners. With a majority of just two this would be defeated if it were introduced in a budget.
He’s promised a raft of policies that are divisive and again very expensive. If he called a Queen’s Speech it’s hard to see how it could pass through parliament.
And he’s promised to negotiate a better deal than Theresa May, without need of the ‘backstop’, by October. He’s not bothered calling the EU to discuss it yet, presumably as he knows he’ll get nowhere.
So I can only assume he will blame the EU for not giving him what he wants. Blame parliament for not giving him what he wants. And blame elements within his own party for not giving him what he wants. He will claim to be the patriot even though half the world has pity and the other half are laughing at us. But he’ll create chaos and use it to push our country into a general election.
I want a public ballot too, but one which will answer the Brexit question. That’s why I will refuse to vote for a general election until Brexit is resolved. The public will decide what they vote on in a general election, they won’t be told it’s about Brexit or anything else. They own elections, politicians don’t, as Theresa May found out with her ‘give me a strong hand in negotiations’ election in 2017.
We’ve had three prime ministers and three governments since the referendum. Each says it is respecting the referendum but does something different than the previous government. They can’t all be right! So there’s only one truly democratic way to proceed – deliver a deal and ask every voting citizen if it’s good enough for them, their family and our country. A confirmatory ballot with ‘Remain’ as an option.
After his statement, parliament went into recess. No votes and no test of his government. So the unelected prime minister will head to a freshly elected EU (the irony!) and try to get his better deal. He said that they need us more than we need them. He said he will get a better deal.
Optimist or not, I’ll be judging him on results, holding him to account, and giving our community the strongest voice I’m humanly able to in these trying times. I know that’s what you need.