Boris, Brexit & Britain

Written by  //  August 13, 2019  //  Europe & EU, U.K.  //  No comments

Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop?
By John Campbell BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor
The Guardian Brexit
BBC: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
‘Order! Order!’: Parliament Speaker Is Brexit’s Surprise Star and Villain
Brexit, EU & UK – June 2019

13 August
Three ways Boris Johnson could become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister
(WaPo) Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote and resign
How realistic is a Johnson loss? Well, he has a working majority in Parliament of just one seat, and a few lawmakers from his Conservative party have indicated that they’d consider the nuclear option of voting against their own government if that’s what it took to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson could lose an election
If Johnson lost a confidence vote and if no other viable government emerged in that two-week window, Parliament would be dissolved and an election would be held 25 working days later.
Alternatively, Johnson might want to call an election of his own volition — either to strengthen his mandate to push Brexit through (if Parliament somehow managed to block him) or to capi­tal­ize on any bounce after having made Brexit happen.
Johnson could lose a no-confidence vote, refuse to resign and get sacked by the queen
David Howarth, a professor of law and public policy at the University of Cambridge, told LBC Radio that the queen could in theory fire Johnson, but that, more likely, Johnson would be asked to step aside so as not to “embarrass” her.

Simon Tisdall: John Bolton doesn’t want a trade deal with the UK – he wants to colonise us
Trump’s national security adviser wants the UK to be beholden to the US for its daily bread, making the country a timid American outpost
(The Guardian) Bolton has three main aims. The first is purely transactional, in keeping with the Trump administration’s arm-twisting style. Although he says the US is content to wait until after Brexit on 31 October before pressing its demands, it’s already pretty clear what they will be. If Johnson wants a quickie sectoral trade deal on, say, the car industry, then Bolton’s price could be the UK’s withdrawal from the hard-won, US-trashed 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and the abandonment of fellow signatories France and Germany. In truth, Johnson and Dominic Raab, his neophyte foreign secretary, are already halfway down this road, having agreed to join a US-led maritime force in the Gulf rather than support a Europe-wide initiative initially proposed by Jeremy Hunt.
Bolton’s enthusiasm for the “incredibly valuable” role that an “independent” UK could play in Nato, a regular target of Trump’s anti-European spleen, suggests an ever-greater degree of subservience. Will the price of market access soon include uncritical support for Trump’s renewed nuclear arms race with Russia and China, now he has scrapped the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) treaty? And whatever you do, chaps, don’t mention the words “climate crisis”. That sends Trump nuts.
The dire prospect raised by Bolton’s gleeful, hopefully premature Whitehall victory tour is one of the UK’s foreign and security policy outsourced to Washington, subordinated to the Trump-Bolton global agenda, and in hock to rightwing nationalist-populist ideology. Brexiteers promised a return of sovereignty. What’s coming is a sellout – a fire sale at the altar of America First.
Bolton’s second aim is to drive a wedge between the UK and Europe, and then use it as a sort of Afghan war-style forward operating base from which to disrupt, subvert and weaken the EU, whose very existence offends him.
…  the third Bolton aim: to enlist a radically repurposed and realigned UK in pursuit of his singular vision of American global hegemony, of the truly exceptional nation whose power and dominion know no limits and whose enemies quail before its unrivalled might. In Bolton’s imperious worldview, the pre-eminent, muscular and righteous US republic rises above all others, sustained by the ultra-conservative, libertarian, populist-nationalist preconceptions and prejudices that only those with commensurately tiny minds can seriously entertain.

30 July
Sinn Fein leader say it’s time to talk ‘Irish unity’ now that Boris Johnson is PM
Mary Lou McDonald tells supporters Boris Johnson is ‘not my prime minister’
Northern Ireland’s largest nationalist party called on the Irish government Tuesday to prepare for the unification of the British region with EU-member Ireland, saying “bullish” Boris Johnson’s Brexit posed a threat.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald told supporters in Belfast that Johnson was “not my prime minister.”
Her comments come days after Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the question of the unification of Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland would inevitably arise if Britain leaves the European Union without a divorce deal on Oct. 31.

25 July
Bumbling Boris is replaced by the Tasmanian Devil
by Michael Deacon
(The Telegraph) Whatever happened to Boris Johnson? You remember him. Posh voice. Confused hair. Bumbling, dozy, absent-minded. Always looked like a man who’d fled the house in a flap after sleeping through his alarm, and now, on a packed train to work, was wondering uneasily whether he’d remembered to turn off the iron, or lock the front door, or put his trousers on.
Funny thing is, there was a man in the Commons today who looked just like Mr Johnson. But it can’t have been him, because this man in the Commons wasn’t remotely bumbling, or dozy, or absent-minded. … Whoever he was, he appeared to be a close relation of the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. Whizzing, spinning, snapping, snarling, ravenous to devour anything and everything in his path, his appetite both insatiable and indiscriminate. He spoke at top volume and top speed, a headlong rush, a verbal blur. Up in the gallery, dazed listeners caught only the odd phrase.
“Right honourable gentleman … Mullahs of Tehran … Invasion of the Body Snatchers … Jugulated and reprogrammed … Doubters and gloomsters …”
“Doubters”. “Defeatists”. “Sceptics”. Even “Britosceptics”. We caught those words a lot – invariably in response to any question from Labour about Brexit. We also caught something about “our mission”, and “mobilising”, and “a national effort”, and “bending our sinews to the task”. It sounded as if the House was being prepared for a war, rather than a negotiation with the EU about border arrangements.

Brussels repels Boris Johnson’s quest for new Brexit deal
Juncker said to have told new PM current agreement is the best and only one possible
(The Guardian) Brussels has roundly rebuffed Boris Johnson after he laid down tough conditions for the new Brexit deal he hopes to strike over the summer.
Speaking to the House of Commons for the first time as prime minister on Thursday, Johnson reiterated his campaign pledge of ditching the Irish backstop and promised to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit immediately.
In a phone call later in the day, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, signalled the EU27’s determination to stick with the deal negotiated with Theresa May’s government – which includes the backstop.
“President Juncker listened to what Prime Minister Johnson had to say, reiterating the EU’s position that the withdrawal agreement is the best and only agreement possible – in line with the European council guidelines,” a commission spokesperson said.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 24: New Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves from the door of Number 10, Downing Street after speaking to the media on July 24, 2019 in London, England. Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, was elected leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party yesterday receiving 66 percent of the votes cast by the Party members. He takes the office of Prime Minister this afternoon after outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May took questions in the House of Commons for the last time. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has already completed his first revolution.
(Politico Eu) The U.K.’s new leader purged senior ministerial ranks of leading figures from the Theresa May era, with 17 Cabinet and other top ministers either sacked or jumping before they were pushed.
In their place is a new top team consisting of ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab — a fierce critic of May’s deal with Brussels — as foreign secretary and Johnson’s effective deputy. As home secretary is another Brexiteer, Priti PatelSajid Javid, the former home secretary, and the man who came third in the Tory leadership contest, is the new chancellor.
The team that helped Johnson win the 2016 referendum for Leave are also reunited at the heart of his government. The mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign, Dominic Cummings — a fierce critic of the culture inside Whitehall — was appointed as a senior adviser in No. 10, while serial reformer Michael Gove will lead the Cabinet Office.
The Cabinet clearout was merciless: Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary and the man who came second in the Tory leadership race, was offered a demotion, refused it, and will return to the back benches. Supporters of Hunt, even Brexiteers like Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt, were also unceremoniously fired.
Boris’s brutal reshuffle
Boris Johnson is entering Downing Street without much furniture or, it now turns out, many of the ministers who have sat around the cabinet table for the past couple of years.
(The Spectator) He has been carrying out a brutal slew of sackings from his Commons office this afternoon. Those who hadn’t already resigned on principle, he has sacked or seen off. Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that he has left the government, having had a stand-off with Johnson over whether he would accept another job. It was being seen as a test of Johnson’s authority whether he gave in to Hunt’s demands to be able to stay at the Foreign Office. Clearly Johnson wants to make clear that his authority is pretty strong.
Penny Mordaunt, the first female defence secretary, has been sacked, as has Liam Fox. Chris Grayling apparently asked to leave the government, which must have been a huge blow. We have live analysis of all those being turfed out – and those being invited in – on Coffee House here.

23 July
Jeremy Kinsman & Larry Haas on CTV Diplomatic Community
Roger Cohen: Boris Johnson Faces a Swift and Bloody Nemesis
Or he could, like his hero Churchill, be remembered for a single act of bravery.
A single issue awaits him: Brexit. (Well, Iran may raise its head.) His deadline for British extrication is October 31. By then he must pull off the do-or-die miracle he’s likened to a moon landing.
Mr. Can-Do — on a good day, maybe, when the emptiness at his core is not gnawing — either pulls a rabbit out of his hat in the form of a new Brexit deal better than his predecessor’s, which was rejected three times by Parliament; or he embraces, as pledged, the après-moi-le-déluge option of a no-deal Brexit with its accompanying economic and administrative mayhem — a course that would further batter the pound, sever essential supply chains, maroon Boris’s pals in Chiantishire, and face stern parliamentary opposition.
Johnson’s three months and change are in fact more like two. Europe goes AWOL in August. The patience of the European Union with the British farce is about exhausted Johnson has many enemies, a paper-thin parliamentary majority, and the tightest of deadlines. His chances of getting a new deal through Parliament by October 31, or actually propelling Britain over the cliff of a no-deal Brexit, are slim to nonexistent.
So what then? He can call an election, but a Tory victory looks unlikely with the electorate split between Nigel Farage’s jingoistic Brexit Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s awful Labour Party, the resurgent pro-Europe Liberal Democrats and Johnson’s Tories. It would, in any event, be a leave-or-remain election, so why not call a second referendum? After three years of inconclusive chaos, with all Johnson’s lies in 2016 now exposed, Britons deserve a chance to say if they really want to leave.

Boris Johnson Is About to Collide With Reality
He has thrived on theatrics. As prime minister, he faces Brexit’s final act.
By The NYT Editorial Board
Throughout history, chaos has often been a crucible of great leadership. Yet with Britain in the throes of its biggest political crisis since World War II, it will be surprising if that turns out to be the case this time.
Boris Johnson prepared to become prime minister on Tuesday after the Conservative Party chose him as its leader. A master of political theater and the quotable quip, he is idolized by rank-and-file Tories determined to quit the European Union no matter the consequences. Yet his record as journalist, legislator, London mayor and foreign secretary displays far more bluster than achievement, and a disdain for hard work, probity or the truth
Team Boris | As Boris Johnson gets ready to meet the Queen and be formally appointed U.K. prime minister, all eyes are on who he will pick as his chancellor of the exchequer, his foreign minister and Brexit negotiator — though Johnson is likely to be the key person there. If he fills his cabinet with committed euroskeptics, it will signal to Brussels that he intends to play hardball and not waver on his promise to pull out of the European Union on Oct. 31, deal or no deal (Bloomberg Politics)
Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader
Former foreign secretary will succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister after beating Jeremy Hunt
(The Guardian) The former mayor of London, who has long cherished an ambition to lead his country, won 66% of the votes – 92,153, to Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4% among 159,320 party members.
In a characteristically lighthearted acceptance speech, Johnson conceded that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”.
Boris Johnson’s victory proves it’s fiction, not fact, that Tories want to hear
“There is no workable majority in the House of Commons for any version of Brexit. Not for staying in the European Union, not for leaving with May’s fudge of a deal, and not for leaving without a deal, an outcome that would in any case force Britain, on the day afterwards, to start negotiating again with Europe, except from a worse position,” Anne Applebaum writes.
(WaPo) In European parliamentary elections held in May, the Conservatives, one of the world’s oldest and most successful political parties, came in fifth place. Not only did the Tories lose to their traditional rivals in the Labour Party, they hemorrhaged votes both to the brand-new Brexit Party, which is angry that they haven’t managed to leave the E.U. yet, as well to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, the two clearly pro-European parties in Britain, who are angry that they still want to go. If they repeat that performance at the next British parliamentary elections, they might be wiped out together.
“… the key to understanding Johnson is understanding one of his most fundamental motivations: winning over the affections of those he encounters. That’s the portrait of Johnson (Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, or Al to his family) laid out by Tom McTague in this definitive profile of the controversial man and statesman who would have his country crash out of the European Union without a deal.”

22 July
Tom McTague: Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny
Hailed as a savant, lampooned as a fraud, Britain’s likely next prime minister must lead his country through its moment of maximum peril—and opportunity.
(The Atlantic) It will be the culmination of seven weeks of national campaigning in which Johnson has slowly and cautiously closed in on the prize. Yet in reality it has been a 40-year pursuit, relentlessly driving forward, each step a mere prelude to the next on his seemingly unstoppable rise.
There was his two years as foreign secretary, resurrecting his career following a failed initial bid at the top job in 2016; before that, his two terms as London’s mayor, the first (and only) Conservative to win the position in Britain’s left-leaning capital, during which time the city hosted the 2012 Olympics; and his time as a member of Parliament and journalist before that, all building to this point. He has often stood apart from his party’s leadership, and grown more powerful each time. Here is a man unshackled from the constraints that usually apply—one whose personal celebrity has given him autonomy from a party that has instead come to rely on him to save it from annihilation as a result of the one policy, Brexit, he was instrumental in bringing about.

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