First published in the Andersonstown News on 25th July 2019
Boris Johnson is now the Prime Minister for England and its own interests, whatever way they decide they should be in the context of Brexit. He set to work immediately purging his cabinet and added to a pretence of change by reappointing a cabinet of the extreme. 17 of the MPs appointed to the new cabinet had formerly served in Cameron and May governments. Many of them have been sacked in disgrace, resigned in disgrace or just been a disgrace. They blame the poor for poverty and view human rights as a form of abomination.
Of course Johnson is a deliberate caricature of himself. Bumbling, chaotic and dysfunctional. In one afternoon, he attempted to change that view by asserting authority. “Out with the weak and in with the strong.” With strong meaning the mishaps, sacked and inept cast offs of previous governments.
Johnson has also been singular in approach. This government is different because this government will not accept the Withdrawal Agreement with the Backstop in it. No ifs no buts this government will leave the EU without a Backstop.
Alongside both of these strong man acts began the briefings. Briefing against the Irish government. The Irish are the problem. Briefing against Tories who won’t accept a no deal. They are the problem. Briefing against a Parliament who will not accept a No Deal. They are the problem. Clear “Us” and “Them” messaging to create the impression that if Britain is not out of the EU All Souls Day it is because of the “Them”. So hey ho let’s have a general election to elect “US” and the strong man is in a populist if not popular position, thereby outflanking Nigel Farage and winning the majority Theresa May could not.
Not a bad strategy for Mr Bumble. Who would have thought he would have it in him? Enter stage right Mr Dominic Cummings. I cannot explain the type of malignant character he is better than the Channel 4 drama Brexit: the Uncivil War did. It’s still available on All4 and is required viewing. Although beware – it will make you want to delete your Facebook account. Mr Cummings is Johnson’s Chief of Staff and now running Downing Street.
There is a con trick, or coup, happening so that a few very rich and cynical right–wing people have control of England by next Spring.
And we in Ireland are the collateral damage. As always. Any talk of concern for the Good Friday Agreement from London rings hollower than a tube of polo mints, and needs to be seen in the context of the appointment of Johnny Mercer as a Minister for Veterans. It is a singularly myopic appointment indicative of a complete disregard for the rights of those harmed by British state forces directly and indirectly. This Johnson government will act in the narrow interests of the English elite.
Of course, the DUP’s days of influence are numbered too. Remember that deal that delivered Brexit to England but had a special clause for the North of Ireland which May was ready to sign until she got a call from Arlene Foster? I can see that becoming the ghost of Christmas past visiting DUP headquarters once Johnson feels he doesn’t need 10 DUP votes when his coup is complete.
July is normally politics’ silly season. Normally a circus passing as the leaves start to fall. This year however the nasty clowns are becoming the main act.