Boris Johnson was – and maybe again someday will be – as catastrophic a Prime Minister as many of his original detractors, your faithful reporter included, initially warned.
But it didn’t have to be like this. He was never forced to go the route of soft touch, centre-left “conservatism” partnering hand-in-hand with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. But he did. And for the most part, it always came down to one thing: his wife Carrie Symonds (or Johnson… but maybe not for long?).
To head-scratching friends on Capitol Hill I describe it thusly: The Johnson government was built, by Carrie, on the sand of her own ability to blackmail the people around her. The corporate media journalist she had long trysts with. The Members of Parliament she worked with, around, and under. The civil servants who for some reason – probably fear of crippling exhaustion – loathed her presence and went along with demands to get her off their backs.
Carrie, a former Conservative Party HQ communications staffer and official at the Clinton Foundation-linked Oceana, immediately corrupted what little semblance of conservatism Johnson once had, as only a third wife can. The speed at which Carrie operated, I’m told, is impressive. And almost every single scandal had her bungling fingerprints all over it. Often, as she gifted him terrible advice, she would brief the opposite to the media, covering her backside along the way.
And whether she decides to stay with the man she only committed to once he became Prime Minister, you can bet Carrie and her small cadre of unqualified grifters she bounced into government jobs will not be far from the corridors of power in Westminster for long.
Boris, in true Boris form, will likely fall upwards into a regular Telegraph, or Spectator column – the establishment looks after its own. Within a few months he’ll be talking about making a big comeback, comparing himself to Churchill, and The Daily Express newspaper will probably feature front cover of him in a boxing ring, 30lbs lighter, with the headline “FIGHTING FIT.”
You see the trouble is British politics has become entirely predictable – which is why even from 3000 miles away, I was able to easily predict Boris’s political downfall. As predictably perhaps, the Conservative Party will now go ahead and pick another wobbly, centre-left candidate like Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak and the whole thing will play out again, possibly sans Carrie (for a little while at least).
Until then, expect the usual, “OH MY GOSH WHAT IS GOING ON” theatrics from the BBC and Sky News. You can be safe in the knowledge that if they are feigning shock, nothing much is changing at all.
Boris seems to have lived up to the many criticisms leveled at him by opponents, being guilty, in Simon Heffer’s list of: “indolence, casualness, monstrous selfishness, lack of attention to detail, incompetence and monumental dishonesty”.
But, it all seems rather bizarre from the American perspective. The British seem to be eaten up with Pi (a 19th century term referring to: “piety,” “sanctimony,” “over-exaggerated moralism.”].
Britain seems to have in place a peculiar male version of our own Me Too Movement. The Love That Currently Never Shuts Up is a much more prominent feature of British life, rooted significantly in the Public School Tradition, and generally tolerated in elite circles. Somehow, in Chris Pincher’s case, lots of British men seem to have turned into shrinking, sensitive virgins, outraged, and suffering from some form of the vapors, as a consequence of an unwelcome poofter’s pass. In America, this sort of invitation could lead to a punch in the face, but all the victim theater would not take place.
Based on a back-of-the-envelope analysis (it’s early), it seems that the real problem was that Johnson wasn’t governing as a true Thatcherite conservative as the voters who had elected him had hoped he would.
The top issue in Britain, as in the U.S. is inflation, or as it’s put in Britain, according to the U.K. press, the “cost of living.” Any plans to fix that? Apparently not.
Issue two was Brexit — he’s still futzing around on that though he was better than his predecessor. Leave means leave.
Three is immigration — the migrants are still rolling in and claiming benefits, going to the front of the line for five-star housing and other things denied ordinary Brits. No sane leader worth their salt would permit that kind of thing going on to please E.U. bureaucrats. There were other assorted bunglings such as refusing to allow Ukrainian refugees in who had sponsors willing to house and feed them. Obviously, something wasn’t working.
Four was global warming. He just couldn’t stop himself promoting that and shutting down Britain’s viable energy putting in place worthless greenie substitutes. Bad policies like that are not only not rooted in science, they are hell on consumers who must deal with higher costs and less reliable energy. To cling to that junk science was absolute poison for his government.
Five was COVID lockdowns — which were as badly managed and driven by quacks as the ones seen in our country and in places like Colombia, where another conservative leader was recently thrown out. The whole thing was the mother of bad ideas and unfortunately, conservatives pay for these things.
In short, he played a conservative on T.V. but he governed as a leftist. That’s a failure to lead, and sure enough, the discontent in Britain is over his leadership, not the Thatcherite elements of his party platform. Johnson’s citation of his “successes” as prime minister — such as lockdowns and Ukraine intevention are rather telling in this regard. He didn’t cite any that Margaret Thatcher would be proud to call her own.
It put his polling numbers in the crapper. It prompted a huge slew of resignations from his cabinet, each character huffing out in a bid to save his or her political skin. It certainly was the same thing did in the president of Colombia’s party a few weeks ago, this claim to be a conservative while governing as a leftist, but Johnson didn’t heed that warning.
Now Britain faces the dangerous prospect of early elections, and the real prospect of the Labour Party leftists taking over. They will dismantle Brexit and print money like maniacs, driving inflation sky-high.
The California experience of having a RINO in office offers a mordant precedent for Britain. Following the exit of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California, leaving the state in a mess, the net result has been California’s hard turn toward becoming a blue state. One hopes against hope that this isn’t what happens to Great Britain, too.
What’s the point of going to elite schools like Eton and Balliol? Boris Johnson loses his speech notes and demonstrates the special ability to ex tempore BS that only graduates of those kinds of schools acquire, spinning entirely off-the-cuff several plausibly coherent paragraphs on the connection between Peppa Pig and Britain’s national advantages and happy future.
“The British Supreme Court (a dubious constitutional innovation if ever there was one) appears to have killed Brexit stone-cold dead. Between the Court and the Fixed-Parliament Act, the Remainers seem to have had all the cards when it counted: the lawyers and political class have trumped the referendum.
Hard to see what happens next. Prime Minister Johnson is a Tory Prime Minister in theory only. Unable to deliver Brexit, which his Party only allegedly wanted, he seems destined for an early disappearance. But what does that mean for the Conservative Party? Most of their voters wanted Brexit. but their donors didn’t. The donors have won for now, but this Parliament has to allow an election sometime. Not sure I’d want to be a Tory officeholder then.
The whole sorry episode shows that when the voters want one thing, and the elites another, the elites win, eventually.”
Unlike a dissolution, which is governed by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, proroguing Parliament is a Royal Prerogative power exercisable by the Queen, (who, by convention, follows the PM’s advice). This doesn’t require the consent of the Members.
This effectively makes “Brexit” unstoppable. As David Jaroslav explains:
“Parliament is scheduled to return from recess on September 9. Now they will be prorogued from the . . .12th until two weeks before the exit date set in the Withdrawal Act. This formally ends the parliamentary session so all pending business dies unless there is a vote in the old session to carry it over to the new session. On October 14th there will be a new Queen’s Speech opening a new session and little to no parliamentary time for the Remainers to play games.
“Even if no confidence were tabled AND voted on the first day of the session (highly unlikely), the 14-day period for a new government to receive the confidence of the House would end right around the exit date, during which the current government would remain in office. If no confidence passed and no new government formed, there would then have to be a general election, but it wouldn’t happen until after Brexit, and again the old government would remain in office until the election concluded.”
Trump and Boris are at a working breakfast August 25th on the second day of the annual G7 Summit accompanied by representative of France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan. Trump and Boris are laughing and joking and having a great time, while further down the table various EU representatives look a lot less happy. You can really tell who’s winning.
I remember having an argument about this once at a dinner thrown by Rees-Moggâ€™s old school chum William Sitwell. A fellow guest insisted that Mogg was far too posh to reach the highest levels in politics. But the person making this claim was a middle-class Remainer who was essentially projecting his liberal elite prejudices. Out in the country at large, however, people just donâ€™t have this chippy attitude. Just as squaddies in the Army still often prefer it if their platoon commander is a Rupert with a proper public school accent, so constituents â€” as is certainly the case in Jacobâ€™s North-East Somerset parliamentary seat â€” have a sneaking fondness for an old-fashioned, lord-of-the-manor type with impeccable manners, a mastery of the English language, and a respect for Britainâ€™s traditions.
This is one of the things that has been so enjoyable about watching the Boris Johnson administration in action. Itâ€™s like watching Odysseus returning to Ithaca and clearing his court of all the wastrels, louts, and spendthrifts who have taken over in his absence; itâ€™s like witnessing the Restoration of Charles II after years in which Britain had been in thrall to hatchet-faced, Christmas-and-Maypole-banning Puritans; itâ€™s like Britain once more becoming the place we used to know and love before the social justice warriors and race-baiters and cry-bullies and diversity officers and sustainability consultants almost went and ruined everything.
Watching the new gang â€” Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg especially â€” competing in the Commons last week to see who could most wittily and imaginatively put down the Opposition, I was reminded of the good old days at the Oxford Union when Oxford was still a halfway decent university and hadnâ€™t completely surrendered to whiny, entitled Communists.
The swagger, the confidence, the bantering good humour â€” where making your point is all very well, but what matters far more is the style and wit with which you do it â€” reminded me how much weâ€™ve been missing in Parliament all these years as MPs with class and hinterland and oratorical skills were edged out by career-safe, virtue-signalling placemen and placewomen.
What weâ€™re seeing happening in British politics now is very similar to what the U.S. has been experiencing under Donald Trump â€” only done in an English way. The bubble of pomposity has been pricked by our new God-Emperors of banter.
The Guardian reports that Theresa May’s government is falling apart over Brexit.
Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government rather than back Theresa Mayâ€™s plans for a soft Brexit.
The prime minister hammered out a compromise with her deeply divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers on Friday, but after consulting friends and allies, Johnson decided he could not promote the deal.
Pressure on the foreign secretary had been mounting since fellow pro-Brexiter David Davis resigned as Brexit secretary on Sunday night, swiftly followed by his No 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker.
A Downing Street spokesman said: â€œThis afternoon, the prime minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The prime minister thanks Boris for his work.â€
Friends said Johnson had been finalising his resignation letter, but Downing Street announced his departure before he had completed it.
After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime ministerâ€™s Brexit plan as being akin to â€œpolishing a turdâ€.
As the flamboyant public face of the Vote Leave campaign, his departure will deepen the sense of crisis around May, and increase the chances that she could face a vote of no confidence.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, being a literate chap educated at Eton and Oxford, naturally had the famous Kipling poem come to mind & tongue when invited to bang the bell in a temple of the Great God Budd in what used to be known as Rangoon, Burma.
The wet ends at the Guardian, and the British Left generally, had a cow over the incident.
Boris Johnson caught on camera reciting Kipling in Myanmar temple.
Foreign secretaryâ€™s impromptu recital of colonial-era poem was so embarrassing the UK ambassador was forced to stop him.
‘Not appropriate’: Boris Johnson recites Kipling poem in Myanmar temple.
The foreign secretary has been accused of â€œincredible insensitivityâ€ after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January.
Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: â€œThe temple bells they say/ Come you back you English soldier.â€
Kiplingâ€™s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed. Britain colonised Myanmar from 1824 to 1948 and fought three wars in the 19th century, suppressing widespread resistance.
Johnsonâ€™s impromptu recital was so embarrassing that the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, was forced to stop him. …
The previously unbroadcast footage shows the diplomat managing to halt Johnson before he could get to the line about a â€œBloominâ€™ idol made oâ€™ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Buddâ€ â€“ a reference to the Buddha.
The gaffe came on the first visit to Myanmar by a British foreign secretary in five years. He had taken part in a ritual involving pouring water over a golden statue of what he described as â€œa very big guinea pigâ€, when he approached a 42-tonne bell, rang it with a wooden stick and spontaneously started reciting Kiplingâ€™s poem.
A visibly tense ambassador stood by as Johnson continued: â€œThe wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say …â€ Then Patrick reminded him: â€œYouâ€™re on mic,â€ adding: â€œProbably not a good idea…â€
â€œWhat?â€ Johnson replied. â€œThe Road to Mandalay?â€
â€œNo,â€ said the ambassador sternly. â€œNot appropriate.â€
â€œNo?â€ replied Johnson looking down at his mobile phone. â€œGood stuff.â€
â€œIt is stunning he would do this there,â€ said Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK. â€œThere is a sensitivity about British colonialism and it is something that people in Burma are still resentful about. British colonial times were seen as a humiliation and an insult.
â€œIt shows an incredible lack of understanding especially now we are seeing the impact of Buddhist nationalism, especially in Rakine state [where Rohingya muslims have been been the subject of violent persecution].â€
BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!
‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay…
When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay…
But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay…
I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay…
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay !