Boris Johnson Odds On To Asset Strip The UK

June 26, 2019

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As the Leave demographic of the country is both deliberately and accidentally pushed towards accepting No Deal as the only True Brexit, the country has been given the chance to avoid the end, and focus on the means. We get to experience the thrill of a Tory leadership contest, where there is no winner, regardless of whoever thinks they are victorious when the vote is resolved in July.

If Boris Johnson wins the position, then he will ultimately come out the worse for it. For other Brexiteers, the motives seem plainly pecuniary and jingoistic. You would not be surprised if half of the other No Dealers were set to benefit from a combination of libertarian hedge funds, libertarian think tanks, Russian commodity assets, and all kinds of dodgy pay-offs. That would explain how such a collection of intellectually limited spivs and aristocrats were happy to drive towards the nonsense with such vigour. That does not appear to be the case with Johnson.

It is difficult to argue that Johnson’s desires are any better when they deliver exactly the same end reward: economic harm and the political and cultural environment that enables asset stripping and legal disenfranchisement of those who most need assistance. He is already rich enough and has shown little inclination to do much more than be overpaid for fairly prosaic work: giving speeches and working for the Telegraph. For all the attention paid to him, there has not been any serious suggestion that he will be on the end of a financial reward for No Deal. The premiership is its own reward for him, which seems like pitifully small chips.

Instead, his former colleagues and employees simply suggest that he wants the attention and the status. He wants to be in charge in and of itself, but does not appear to want any of the responsibilities for it. His is a shallow ambition that he will do anything to realise, as long as it’s not too demanding. The reason he might work for the Barclays, or discuss tactics with Steve Bannon, is probably not ideological sympathy, it is much more likely that he’ll work with anyone prepared to do the heavy lifting for him.

Because he believes in so little, it requires no intellectual bandwidth to promise whatever he feels like on whichever day he is called upon to do so. We know all this, of course, but it needs repeating when he is on the cusp of being able to eff up the country just as he has done his own existence. The only change is he does it with ever less charisma. Even his verbose phrases have become repetitive.

The alternative for Tory party members, and us (I assume and hope there is little overlap here) is Jeremy Hunt. Where Johnson is a charlatan willing to say anything and in the pocket of a newspaper, Hunt is instead the man who damaged the NHS while claiming to bolster it, and who was removed from a government post due to improper behaviour regarding Rupert Murdoch. Totally different situations.

Hunt has an advantage of a less colourful private life and political history, so he can goad Johnson on his failure to expose himself to more scrutiny, as if his tactic is any less cynical than his rival’s. While he may have a point, it does not make him any more qualified to take over to lead the country. He, too, gurns in the face of No Deal in order to raise his popularity with the rabid Tory base.

Does he believe in it? No. But nor does Johnson, regardless of his campaigning and sedition over the past three years. The country has two potential leaders who fundamentally disagree with the reasons for Brexit, but who are desperate enough for power that they will try to outdo one another on its phantom potential benefits. And because they essentially believe in nothing, they have to sell their inevitable flip-flopping first to a group of angry self-harmers, then to a reluctant public, all before having to take the opposite view when reality hits. No Deal, despite the bluster, is still far from a sure thing. This would take a mixture of Bismarck and Machievelli to pull off successfully. Instead we have Johnson or Hunt.

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Author: Alex Netherton

Alexander Netherton used to be a writer

Twitter @lxndrnthrtn


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