The United Kingdom is soon to get a new Prime Minister and lest there be something unforeseeable, it looks guaranteed to be Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
He is likely to take the helm in one of the most difficult time for Britain when a decision for generations is to be made that will shape the world for decades to come.
The task has never been harder since Chamberlain’s white flag was replaced with Churchill. Nor is the question now much different, though thankfully in a far more peaceful context.
Is Britain European and will it stand for Europe or is the land of Magna Carta to go at its own?
Boris will not make that decision, the British people will, but he will have immense influence, so who is this man?
The Commoner Aristocrat
You can barely make much sense of what he says when he speaks with Johnson keen to find rarely used words and drop little known ancient historic references to emphasize perhaps he studied Literae humaniores, nicknamed greats, in Oxford.
As high as he is, you do spot him on occasion riding his bicycle in the streets of London like a commoner.
Yet he is as elite as one can be. Born to a father who worked at the World Bank and the European Commission, with an artist mother from a family of liberal intellectuals, Johnson went off to Eton after securing from birth both an American and British citizenship as he was born in Manhattan while his father was studying in USA.
His ancestry, it is said, can be traced back to King George II of Great Britain. Just as his great-grandfather, from the father’s side, was Turkish journalist Ali Kemal.
His ancestry further includes Russian Jewish immigrants, as well as some French. Making him a very global figure transcending all Abrahamic religions.
The aristocrat, however, is also very much a commoner. His row with his girlfriend, for example, at very buzzingly metropolitan Camberwell, is a very vivid example of how he walks among ordinary people.
While Mayor of London, he went down to the London Bridge train station during peak morning rush-hour without much fanfare or even any security around.
The train was late, of course, but then the train station was revamped with new lines, new gates, and a new modern feel.
Boris Johnson describes himself as socially liberal libertarian (but not ultra-libertarian) who will defend to death the right of anyone to believe in reincarnation.
He does gimmicky things, like Boris bikes or James Bond safely bringing down the Queen from a helicopter for a spectacular entrance to the Olympics while he was London mayor in 2012, as well as more substantial things like revamping train stations which are less visible to the public.
He has been accused of racism for colorfully describing some traditional African dance, but we don’t think he is racist in any way.
He has also been criticized for stating women wearing burkas look like letterboxes. Not the best word to use perhaps, but our governments have done far too little in criticizing both Iran and Saudi Arabia for their use of religious police which at threat of prison enforces the hijab.
The reason it looks like all women wear the same black hijab is because black attracts the sun. In the heat of the middle east, it is basically a physical punishment for any woman that wants to go out of the house. Men of course only wear white in Saudi Arabia because white repels the sun and thus keeps you a bit colder.
Where this criticism is used against Johnson to suggest he is islamophobic, we’d say there’s a difference between religion and oppression, especially state oppression.
He is clearly a cosmopolitan, well traveled, well learned, and with a rich ancestry. All religions, cultures and nationalities would probably be very safe and maybe even safer.
He would in fact probably be a fine prime minister overall in any other time, but in the current constitutional crisis, passing judgment is far more difficult.
To Be or Not to Be European?
“I am a bit of a fan of the European Union. If we did not have one, we would invent something like it.”
So said Boris in 2003, with the European Union a self-evident coming together of a generally one people and a generally one culture as under the Roman empire, or the Holy Roman version or the Vatican one under the rule of the popes.
The question is where the Hadrian Wall will be this time, in France, or beyond Iceland or whether there would be one at all virtually speaking?
“I saw the whole [European Union] change. It was a wonderful time to be there,” says Boris, adding:
“The Berlin Wall fell and the French and Germans had to decide how they were going to respond to this event, and what was Europe going to become, and there was this fantastic pressure to create a single polity, to create an answer to the historic German problem, and this produced the most fantastic strains in the Conservative Party, so everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power.”
The European Union has been the downfall of every conservative Prime Minister since UK joined in the 70s, bringing two of them down just in the past three years to add to a long list that includes Thatcher.
As sometime is said in geopolitics, UK’s interest is to keep France and Germany divided as otherwise Britain would be too weak and thus perhaps would be invaded according to the devil’s “science.”
Whether this cartoonish view of inter-national relations is in fact taught at Eton or Oxford, we do not know, but Boris says: they want us out, we should go.
Maybe. The problem is UK has the pound. Europe can’t operate as a single currency without effectively becoming the United Europe or Great Europe with an elected continent wide president, cabinet, army, and so on.
Just as the problem is what exactly will happen to the pound if UK leaves, with it now not far off from euro parity:
A pound Britain in a euro nation might be a complication for both Europe and the UK, especially considering the latter has a veto.
Europe has to integrate and effectively merge, that’s self-evident, but as an island Britain does have a choice just as islands in general usually are autonomous or semi-autonomous. The question is, just what is the right choice?
Britania or Europa
One jokes the queen could be the head of state of the European Union. That would probably not go down well in the continent, but the argument she would be the final stand against a dictator could appeal.
Joking aside, the vision for staying in Europe is one of UK being the conduit of a trans-atlantic alliance that was forged in fire during the last century.
A European Britain would drive the continent towards more economic liberalization and social tolerance, while maintaining close relations with America. Thus America would maintain close relations with Europe.
This alliance can then drive the whole world forward, with a balance of powers maintained between the two sovereign continents.
As both sovereign and roughly the same size, they would keep each other in check. America would then focus more on Latin America and perhaps Asia. While Europe maybe would form an alliance with Turkey, which could then bring peace to the whole region below. And from the above it would repair relations with Russia, which has an elite that generally sees itself as European.
Neither Russia nor Turkey are quite within the European continent, so perhaps neither should join the union. Both however should be integrated where trade is concerned, and considering Europe’s far bigger economy, both should be used to bring and maintain peace in their wider regions.
Making this a vision of a golden age of general good relations and flowing trade with UK somewhat at the heart of it, and thus benefiting much from it.
The vision for Britania starts first with whether Europe would give the one modification that Johnson is apparently to ask, that being a time limit of say five years to the backstop just in case trade negotiations fail.
As the backstop is only relevant to tariffs, if an agreement is reached between UK and Europe for the free flow of goods, then the backstop would no longer be relevant.
If no such agreement is reached, then UK can not possibly agree to any borders within its own nation, whether virtual or otherwise, so the choice would be no-deal leave or remain.
Regardless, this would be just a matter of degree, as in how close UK stays to Europe. If this time-limit to the backstop is granted, then UK would be integrated with Europe. So from EU’s perspective it would probably be same as above, but now with a UK alliance integrated to the west.
UK would still act as a conduit between US and Europe regardless of deal or no deal, but it would have far less influence with both.
In economic matters, London would still have much clout and they might move towards more economic liberalization, with UK so striking its own relations with countries across the globe.
Meaning both choices can be positive and really there’s isn’t too much difference between them depending on just what deal is reached and just how close UK maintains relations with Europe.
Where this space is concerned, remaining would be better because of passporting where a British license is valid in all Europe.
It would also be better because only a United Europe can really give competition to the SEC or other USA-wide agencies. Competition that is very much needed.
UK is just too small to be that relevant where SEC-level competition is concerned. It’s still better than nothing, of course, but the EU would be at a different level.
It’s not clear, however, just what exactly Boris’ vision is. Does he want UK to be part of some European institutions, Erasmus for example? Would Europe agree? Can he get passporting? If there is an EU SEC, would he want to be part of its jurisdiction? Is this basically some sort of special deal just because Britain kept the pound, which it was forced to keep by markets that broke the Bank of England?
Three years on and still no one quite has a clue just what leaving means and this hasn’t even begun, we’re told, with the only thing clear so far being that if they can’t get a deal, then remain would probably be better.
The Historic Upcoming Election
Clarity should be reached soon on both what Europe wants and what Britain wants with Johnson apparently already reached out by EU.
If he is right and if it is true that Europe wants Britain out presumably because of the pound, then you should think he’d be able to get a deal.
If he does get some sort of special deal with passporting and all the rest, then the choice wouldn’t really matter.
Such special deal however might not be on the table, meaning effectively no deal, and that would be something very different.
All this is to be sorted out presumably by September, with a general election around then or at some point before October 31st.
That’s because as a democracy, Britain makes decisions in a legitimate and peaceful manner. Parliament would not allow a no-deal exit without a general election, and the growing support for remain would be agitated considerably even if it does.
Considering the tiny majority the conservatives have, and considering just two or three defections would effectively collapse the government and force an election, if Boris is smart he would himself declare a general election at the first opportunity.
In such situation, it would be both in Britain’s interest and in Europe’s interest to have full clarity on just what exactly will be their relations.
That’s because the British public is clearly very divided and it would not be in anyone’s interest to entrench further such divisions.
Britain can have a very close alliance with Europe, including on military matters with free flowing trade and perhaps even people, even if it is outside of EU.
That can work to the benefit of both, but whether both sides will agree to that, remains to be seen.
Regardless, in an election campaign just what has been agreed can be explained, with Libdems putting forward their case for remain or as close a relationship as possible, while Labour can perhaps receive a delayed punishment for the Iraq War since Corbyn doesn’t even know what he wants where Europe is concerned and since he has been no opposition.
Farage too can be decimated at the polls since no one would vote for him over Boris. However, there are suggestions Boris might enter some pact with Farage. That would be a mistake and perhaps a very big mistake.
Farage can say what he wants, but he did found UKIP and we’ve seen what that party has descended into. He did stay in front of those posters and he did concede twice on the referendum day when there are suggestions he might have known leave won.
Independents would probably be repelled by any such pact with Farage or for giving him any role whatever and Libdems in particular would probably have a field day at painting Boris as basically Farage.
Nor is such pact needed since against Boris, Farage barely polls. He has to go at it on his own. He caused all this. He now has to fix it.
Whether he can, remains to be seen, but time is of the essence. Jeremy Hunt perhaps should take all by surprise and just step down since party members are obviously not going to vote for him. Boris then can go back to Brussel where he has spent many years of his life, and come back to call an election with whatever agreement has been reached or call the election before hand.
Libdems are probably already preparing for an election, as is Labour. So Britain, Europe and the world can enjoy a summer where perhaps we all realize whether in or out doesn’t even matter if Boris can reach an agreement to keep Britain close, with all of this potentially turning out to be nothing more than a silly spectacle as UK either stays, stays in all but name, or goes on a long drive that eventually amounts to staying.
Because Britain is European. That part of the continental geography can’t be changed. They’re physically goin no where. Still next to France and Germany and Holland and Denmark and… in Europe. The only question being whether with a veto or without influence in internal EU matters.
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