Can the U.K.'s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, slay the EU and revive the Reagan-Thatcher comity?
The U.K. has a new prime minister - a conservative, yellow-haired former journalist, as well as young-fogey Oxford boy, Boris Johnson.
Here's the news, from Townhall:
Boris Johnson won the Conservative Party’s leadership contest, beating Jeremy Hunt to become the UK’s next prime minister.
Johnson won by a wide margin, earning 92,153 votes to Hunt’s 46,656.
In his victory speech, Johnson thanked Tory members for the "extraordinary honor and privilege you have just conferred on me."
He also thanked Hunt for serving as a "font of excellent ideas," joking that he planned to steal them, and May, for her "extraordinary service to this party and this country."
Johnson argued that throughout history the British people have turned to the Conservative Party to promote the good of the country.
"No one party, no one person has a monopoly on wisdom, but if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party’s existence you will see it is we conservatives who have had the best insights, I think, into human nature," he said.
Charming, droll, certainly interested in unifying his own party front. He's a lot like Trump in many ways, lobbing the bombs of political incorrectness. An outraged Vox culled these items:
And over the years, Johnson has managed to generate a considerable amount of controversy for making comments that critics have dubbed racist, sexist, Islamophobic, or some combination of the three. In 2002, while criticizing the UK’s Africa policy, he referred to Africans as “piccaninnies.” In 2007, he likened Hillary Clinton to a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”
In 2016, Johnson suggested that President Barack Obama opposed Brexit because of his “ancestral dislike” of Britain, owing to his “part-Kenyan heritage” (Kenya was formerly a British colony). In a 2018 column, Johnson described Muslim women who wear burqas as looking like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers.”
Based on that, some of his instincts are correct. And I think it's useful that he has a non-conformist background. Just being a conservative is one - at Oxford no less - I was a student there at the same time he was, and though I didn't know him, I do know what the political atmosphere was like at the time, and it most certainly would have taken guts to be a conservative at Balliol.
What's more, his mum was a loopy modern artist. That's good, and I certainly like her.
The guy is funny, compelling, unafraid to look ridiculous, and a great journalist back when he was editor in chief at the London Spectator and a columnist at the London Daily Telegraph. As mayor of London, he was entertaining -- his most famous manuever was getting stuck on a zipwire, carrying the British flag, having to dangle there while he waited for someone to come rescue him. Brits kind of liked him for that, making him a sort of everyman for that, too.
And like President Trump, he talks out of turn, doesn't care what polite society thinks, has yellow hair, and a very turbulent love life.
Most important, his ascent represents the very useful typical re-alignment of politics between the U.S. and Britain which we have seen through much of the 20th century: Democrats such as John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and the Labour prime ministers of the 1960s; Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. The Bush presidencies and the watered-down British conservatives of their eras. Now it's Trump-Johnson, and it feels as though the political world has finally snapped back onto its axis.
It also coincides with President Trump's defeat of Deep State in the wake of the Mueller Report. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was deeply implicated in those activities as the ongoing evidence shows, all the way to the latest episode of the British ambassador badmouthing Trump in private, but now-exposed correspondence. She, and her man, are gone now. The next ambassador is going to treat America's voting choice, and America, actually, with friendship and respect.
When the U.S. and Britain get together, they are unbeatable, and now we see potential for that dynamic to reemerge - both in checking Russia and China and all their little acolytes such as Iran and Venezuela, but also on the economic front. As Trump has said, Britain goes to the front of the line on trade treaties in the wake of Brexit and who among us doesn't have a ravenous taste for British goods? Darn right we'd enjoy buying something British. Start shipping the Liberty prints, Harris tweeds, wool tartans, Church's shoes, and Yorkie bars.
But most important for Boris, there's Brexit. Johnson is only there at all because his NeverTrump predecessor, Theresa May, made such a hash of it. She dithered, she hestitated, she kowtowed to the clown show in Brussels, and she not only failed to get the job done, ignoring the will of the voters, she also lost her Tory party tremendous political support. The Brexit Party's landslide win in the European parliament just last May was a powerful bellwether for the Tories.
We know that May tried, she really tried. She tried three times, was left in tears, and in the end lost her job.
Still, still, we know that Johnson's not stupid and he knows very well what happened to May...he probably even understands it the same way we do.
So the whole mixed picture does leave the question of whether Johnson is going to be tough enough to scare the hell out of the satraps running the European Commission, the ones who got May thrown out. We know that Johnson is wild enough. But is he tough enough? Is he willing to out-bastard them, make himself even meaner than they are, do things that will make the establishment cringe? I am not entirely sure. He's nice, as has been noted. What's more, he mouths some stupid leftist things from time to time - he believes in global warming, for one, and he criticized Trump for his harsh attack on the 'squad,' calling them "totally unacceptable." Obviously, he didn't know Ilhan Omar very well nor did he understand what Trump was doing. The whole thing amounts to signs he cares what the establishment thinks.
On the plus side, the rabid left absolutely hates him. This rabid rag (click it only if you have to) calls Johnson "more dangerous than Trump" which is points in his favor.
Another plus is that Johnson's kindly manner and charm might actually be the best way to handle the creeps and clowns of the EU. According to Lloyd Evans, writing in the Spectator:
A few years ago, he was pestering me to write a story about a fuel embargo which I was reluctant to cover. ‘Sorry, Boris, I’m writing a play. What this story needs is a newshound.’
‘No no,’ he said, with a hint of wheedling self-mockery, ‘what this story needs is an ARTIST!’
Of course, I sidelined the play and did the story. Why did I cave in? Perhaps because the flattery was so blatant. But I also knew that joining Boris on any enterprise would be a good laugh. He’s completely unpredictable. Pranks, jokes and inventive ideas – ‘wheezes’ as he calls them – pour out of him.
That may sound like a disastrous trait in a prime minister but with the Brexit negotiations in the balance it might give Britain a crucial advantage. Boris’s love of mischief and his anarchic streak will make his threat of a no-deal Brexit a serious prospect.
The EU won’t be able to read him. They won’t like that. And they’ll be rather miffed to discover that they can’t help warming to him either. Most of the people who loathe him have never met him. Everyone who enters his orbit finds themselves smitten by his curious, cat-like giggling presence. He likes people. And people like him back. In that respect he’s more of a Reagan than a Trump. He’ll work his magic on the heads of state and the chancellors he’s about to meet. By the fall, the UK will have the most popular leader in the world.
O.K., so maybe it'll work. There's an argument ot there that it will work...
In any case, he's certainly better than what the U.K. had earlier. And, U.S. ties with Britain are going to improve at long last. They have been in the dumpster since the Obama years, ties in name only. America is going to gain something from this. One can only hope that Britain will, too.