by John Ward
It’s hardly surprising that Boris Johnson used his favourite sport as a way to tell hustings activists that he is the Sixes Slasher who should be at the crease. BoJo is the opportunist par excellence, but those who (like me) support him for the moment must use him in an equally opportunistic manner. Once inside Number Ten, Boris’s sole reason for being is delivery of the Brexit Britain and Europe need. On balance, he is unlikely to achieve that goal. And even if he does, there are bigger cultural maladies to solve.
I have no idea what the collective noun for distractions is, but I rather suspect it ought to be ‘a distortion’. Without doubt, there has been widespread briefing by both the Johnson and Hunt camps this weekend….and almost certainly by Whitehall in general, with the Cabinet Office in particular releasing what it imagines will be seen as “good news”.
The only genuinely good news I can see is that, barring another attempt at Boris-bursting, Jeremy Hunt is not going to be Prime Minister. The Whitehall mafia has bowed to the inevitable, and decided to prepare for the surreality of a Johnson premiership. This doesn’t mean they will let BoJo do his worst (even if he wants to) but rather that the mandarins intend not to be caught offside. Olly Robbins is leaving to spend more time with his superego, and Mark Sedwill is off to be….the British Ambassador in Washington, where he can spend more time with the CIA.
Both Messrs Johnson and Hunt are stressing the need for the October 31st deadline not to be missed. Canadians, task forces and ‘Brexitstreams’ are being recruited and assembled. Doubtless there will be Tsars, purges and crackdowns in due course. Speed, it seems, is of the essence. As to the essence of Brexit itself, there is little or no odour as yet; only a Johnson spokesman saying that his candidate’s “focus will be on selling his Brexit vision of a 31st October leaving date with or without a deal”.
The main fear among we of the 1st Doubting Thomas Lancers is that Britain will be heading into the October charge without a plan.
There will be no indecision, says Boris: he will be Botham to Mrs May’s Boycott. There will be sixes in all directions, and a hero’s tea at 4 pm sharp with lashings of ginger beer and cream.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself says Beefy Boris. Nothing except 420 Remainer MPs, John Bercow, at least seven disruption plots, and the Bombasts in Brussels screaming “They shall not pass”.
From Day One, The Slog has been glass-half-empty when it comes to a clean, Sovereign Brexit. I have felt (and still suspect) that there are simply too many powerful people who don’t want it: The Pentagon, NATO, MI6, the bourses, the banks and the federal technocrats either in Brussels or the two key capitals, Berlin and Paris. Today, I do not see, as yet, anything more than a glimmer of an iota of a fraction of a sign of a diminution in their power and determination. I see only a series of élites quietly regrouping behind subterranean defences.
Equally important, I see Boris the Spider – a fully paid up member of their ranks – in pole position to adopt the white flannels and sturdy pads most suited to his latest populist role as Boris Botham the Brussels Basher.
Unfortunately, the Remainers’ XI have some predatory slip-fielders in their side:
- Allegedly only the umpire, in fact Commons Speaker John Bercow is of far more use to the team in his role as wicketkeeper, forever ready to stump the Brexiteers by whipping off their bails without warning. He has, by personal proclamation, now extended his Westminster run of 120 months not out to Christmas. We can expect more mysterious decisions from the umpire behind the wicket.
- Creating a crescent of catchers at first, second and third slip are the No-Ball expert Yvette Cooper, Philip ‘Fingers’ Hammond and the man who catches every stray corkie, Vince Cable. All three have vowed to create a Jihadist campaign to declare the Brexiteer batsmen ‘run out’ at very opportunity.
Should Boris fluff his forward drives, there is the deadly duo of Blair and Campbell at mid on-and-off. No matter how silly their positions might be, Tony and Ally are an ever popular duo among the eurofans. In the outfield smoking a fag will be Kenneth Clarke, ever vigilant for the skied square cut of Johnson’s gib. On the boundaries respectively making jam and playing with an abacus are Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott.
There is, meanwhile, no shortage of attacking bowlers. The controversial ‘Chucker’ Umunna will open from the scoreboard end, and there will undoubtedly be a slot for Guy Verhofstadt who, despite his long history of ball tampering and wide boy bowling of bouncers and beamers, is still a danger to be reckoned with and (if necessary) placed in a straitjacket for his own protection. Although getting on a bit now, it is expected that arch-meister of the disguised spin Juncker will get a spell, and without doubt Manny ‘vrai dur’ Macron will be tossing a few balls from the other side of the wicket before taking the sweater – a gilet jaune, perhaps.
The only parallel I’ve omitted from this tortuous analogy is the one I fear most: a pitch invasion from the members’ enclosure in the event of Bojo heading for a captain-hero’s century.
Leaving fantasy cricket in favour of the real world, as a country the problems we face remain exactly the same: the two horns of our dilemma are first, a solidly Remainer Parliament; and second, a lack of self-belief in our ability to be truly independent as both a sovereign nation and a trading entity.
Since last February I have stuck doggedly to the conclusion that only a general election dramatically changing the House of Commons’ make-up can give a new, more Brexit-determined administration the room it needs to make Brussels face reality. Without it, I foresee only filibuster, foul play, fiddled rules and more Verhofstadt.
The general body of MPs have now convinced themselves that they are on a mission ordained by God to “save” the British People from No Deal disaster, rampant racism taking hold in Blighty, and the loss of all those Human Rights held so dear by the 99% of EU citizens who remain fiercely loyal to the technocratic directives of the Brussels Commission.
Such a view is based solidly on avoiding all infection by EU opinion surveys, ECB actions, econo-fiscal data from the eurozone, the rapes of Greece and Cyprus, EU/UK trade surplus numbers, the Italian bank debt mountain, Deutsche Bank’s collapsing valuation, the reality of Islamic and/or violent migration, and a faith more blind than a blind man who has had his hearing surgically removed and his nostrils eviscerated. Such faith is also known, in certain circles, as The Labour Party.
The idea that Boris Johnson, Steve Baker, the hard end of the ERG and other worthy souls can somehow (unaided) pierce the hermetically sealed bubble in which neoliberal blocistas and useful idiots live is preposterous. Only a general election in which the genuine UKippers vote tactically and en masse for complete independence is going to deliver a new future for the United Kingdom.
‘UKippers’ today means (for me at least) those who would prefer Britain as an offshore Switzerland – unaligned, creative, protected by a natural barrier and devolved into cantons where creative local entrepreneurs thrive alongside an internationally influential financial sector.
But this is not how Boris Johnson sees the world. For him, London is a Singapore in the making, and The City a goose that will lay 24-carat golden eggs in perpetuity. He accepts the idea of a globalist world without question, he is a dyed in the wool lover of the Special Relationship, and he will fight tooth and nail to protect the sociopathic privilege of The Square Mile.
It has always been my contention that, behind the populist rhetoric, Boris is still a spider with a world-wide web of influence. For my money, he is a means to an end: that is, he is by far the most likely potential leader to remove us from vassal status as part of a crumbling EUnatic asylum. He is by far the most likely leader to put the Muswell Hillbillies back in their tiny Marxist box. And above all – as I wrote at the start of this piece – he is not Jeremy Hunt.
Along the rocky road ahead lie an election that might bring Farage’s TBP into power-sharing (he too is no more than a temporary elastoplast), and a Brussels that knows for sure this is do-or-die for them.
Don’t write that latter judgment off as hyperbole. The Commission and its allies in Berlin, Paris and Frankfurt have a image to protect…..an image that has been carefully nurtured to protect them from liberal-democratic reality.
That image is one of invincibility akin to the imagined superiority attached to the Nazi Wehrmacht in 1940. Greece and Cyprus have been crushed, Italy split and Hungary threatened. If Brussels can tame the UK and retain it as a cash cow, the Mad Project may yet endure: Hungary can be beaten down, Orban removed and the delicate Italian coalition divided. But a Britain that breaks away with its trading independence and currency intact will smash that image of neo-Roman fascist might.
The Commission will spend any sum, resort to any banking skulduggery, bully every media owner and bring every possible bourse or debt bond pressure to bear in a bid to break British resolve and convince the EU’s other member States that resistance is futile. If they fail in those dark endeavours, then their own bond rates will rise, liquidity in the ezone will disappear, Italy will default, and the European Union in it current form will collapse within three years.
A Johnson administration will have 90 days to succeed in cutting the umbilical chord….90 days during which all hands will be on the throat of baby New Britain. Fasten your seatbelts.
If you remain unclear as to why I hold these apparently extreme views about the Tory leadership question, Brexit, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, these suggestions for further Slog archive reading might help: