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Boris Johnson is the European Union’s Worst Nightmare

Boris Johnson is the European Union’s Worst Nightmare

  • The UK's new prime minister backs Brexit and unlike Theresa May, appears willing to walk away from the table.

Authored by Bill Wirtz via The American Conservative blog:


Yesterday’s vote in the British Conservative Party confirmed that Boris Johnson will become the United Kingdom’s next prime minister.

Johnson beat his opponent, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt, by a margin of 92,153 to 46,656 among Conservative voters. Prime Minister Theresa May had stepped down after her efforts to reach a deal with the European Union regarding the UK’s exit from the bloc were repeatedly rejected in the House of Commons. May had negotiated several extensions to the official exit, which is now set for October 31. That leaves Johnson with little time to find an agreement.

The Conservative Party is currently a minority government, relying on the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to get measures passed. Since the prime minister post is not directly elected, the ruling political party’s leader automatically becomes head of government. The next general election isn’t scheduled until May 2022.

Boris Johnson is a household name in British politics. He’s the former Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, former mayor of London, and was one of the most vocal voices behind the campaign to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum campaign of 2016. The 55-year-old has a massive vocabulary, and is known for his colorful columns and even more colorful insults. In 2013, when he was mayor, he called the London assembly “great, supine, protoplasmic, invertebrate jellies,” getting a laugh even from those who had just voted to remove him from the assembly room.

Beyond his articulate wit, Johnson is likely to be more free market than his Conservative predecessors, though exactly where he stands ideologically is hard to tell. He doesn’t seem to follow in the footsteps of the Tories’ restrictive lifestyle police, as he opposes increased sugar taxes, which have been lauded as a necessary tool for public health. And even though Johnson supports tax cuts for the middle class and increasing the higher-rate income tax threshold by more than 60 percent, he wants to avoid deficits only by increasing borrowing.

Most important however, is what he’ll do differently than his predecessor, Theresa May, to secure Britain’s departure from the European Union. Johnson first opposed the Withdrawal Agreement that May’s government negotiated with the EU, only to “reluctantly” support it on the third vote. This cost him some trust among hardline pro-Brexit supporters. Famous Brexiteer Nigel Farage doubts that Johnson can get the exit done by October 31, though newly elected European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says she would be open to another extension of the official exit date.

Johnson’s options are limited: either he convinces the EU to make fundamental changes to the Withdrawal Agreement—which seems unlikely—or he cancels triggering Article 50 and doesn’t leave the EU at all—which would be the end of his premiership—or he risks leaving the EU without a deal. In the past, he’s made it clear that he’s open to the third option. Under a no deal scenario, the UK and the EU would fall back onto World Trade Organization rules, which would reintroduce tariffs on goods coming from the EU. Westminster has insisted it would not do this, though Brussels has not been entirely clear on its position.

This is the point of contention: if the UK and the EU re-introduce tariffs, then long lines at the border (including in Northern Ireland) could interrupt the supply chain, and cause shortages and rising prices. On the other hand, Brexiteers have assured their critics that technological improvements can make the process smooth and unseemly, and that tariffs would only come into effect if the EU were to take that step. From a UK standpoint, no border would need to be erected.

The new PM has made it clear that he wants to get a deal, but also that he is ready to steer towards no deal if necessary. This is essentially a negotiating position: if you announce prior to a negotiation that you will never walk away (which is what Theresa May did), then you can be sure that the other side will exploit you.

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For the EU, Boris is the least favorable option in this sense, because he seems most secure in walking away from the negotiating table. This explains the nervous reactions across Europe yesterday afternoon. EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis even insinuated on the official website of the European Commission that Johnson deceived the British electorate.

If Johnson does not reach a deal, if he kowtows to pressure and begs for an extension, then his days as PM will be short-lived. If he leaves without a deal, he will be faced with doomsday scenarios for weeks, with every bit of bad economic news blamed on his leadership. If he manages to strike a good deal for the United Kingdom, he will go down in history as one of the UK’s most effective leaders.

The suspense is palpable. We will find out what happens on October 31.


Bill Wirtz comments on European politics and policy in English, French, and German. His work has appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Examiner, CityAM, Le MondeLe Figaro, and Die Welt

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Monty Python was a Guru
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Monty Python was a Guru

A witty clown devoid of pragmatism re: Russia with a genetic boil of British hubris on his forehead worn like a crown and second to none and a burning desire to appear relevant in world affairs while punching above his weight. But for the witty part, that describes all of the UK’s leadership, does it not?

Olivia Kroth
Guest

If Brexit really happens in October, a tsunami will sweep over Europe. Other states will leave the EU too. I imagine Italy with Salvini, Hungary with Orban and France with Le Pen will try to get out, whenLe Pen finally becomes president one day. If and when …

jph
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jph

Amy Eurozone country will then be confronted with the bill of the Draghi disaster making exit very costly.

Guy
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Guy

BOJO should call an election before jumping the EU ship . It should be an election issue which ,referendum notwithstanding , let the people decide on an election issue .Labor would not have to have another referendum as was stated by Jeremy Corbyn ,should he win and if not ,well BREXIT it is.Get it over with .

AM Hants
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AM Hants

We had the Euro Elections and there were more MEPS elected from ‘Leave Parties’, then ‘Remoaners’ funded by Sor os and Blair. How many elections are we meant to have? We are not Ireland, who had to keep voting, till they came up with the answer the EU demanded. I wonder what would have happened to the Irish Border, if they had stayed with the result of the first election? LEAVE.

bob
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bob

Meanwhile, in the real world of living in britain – democracy is dead. The media prints what it likes irrespective of criticism. The politicians have all gone on holiday. Boris is not a ‘leaver’ merely a flexible puppet depending on what day it is and how many jokes he can come up with. The poor are getting poorer. The disabled are dying. Anyone over 60 does not get health care rather are ignored in the hope they die soon. Manufacturing is at zero percent. Free speech is to become a criminal offence. There is no suspense – only for media… Read more »

Sledgehamma
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Sledgehamma

I must echo your very accurate summation of the state of Britain at this time, Much of Europe is not far behind, with some much worse off. The days of the EU are over…………………lets separate and move on………….. I am disappointed that Alex. Mecouris is so out of touch on this subject.

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Two questions were asked in the BREXIT Referendum. Stay – be dictated by the EU. Leave – self determination/independence. What is wrong with cutting out the ‘middle man’ and just having WTO tarrifs? Are the EU seriously going to refuse to sell to a customer? If we implemented Article 50, after 29 March 2017, then the EU would have full control over if we could leave and what the terms would be, if they let us. Which is why it was implemented prior to that date. So we could leave on our own terms. Like the way he has got… Read more »

jph
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jph

Overlooking Farage, Salvimi, Orban aren’t we?

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

I think the UK won’t be spared this nightmare either.

Sledgehamma
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Sledgehamma

Johnson, a neocon zionist agitator, he’s not witty, he’s a waste of skin.Name please, anyone, something that Johnson did which benefited the electorate ???????? He’s a fraud, and he will fail the electorate again on the 31st of the 10th. His real loyalties lie with the State of Israel, he is their asset, and to the City of London. He has already ordered the forces of law and order to pay less attention to the Cabal of Pedophiles and its Satanist links………………… this should tell you enough about his intentions………….. If Bobo is a clown, then he is the worst… Read more »

Bird Watcher
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Bird Watcher

Why the EU’s nightmare? More like a blessing. The UK, like Poland, is nothing more than a cuckoo bird from across the Atlantic, plopping its eggs into the EU’s nest. Good riddance, I say.

Andre
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Andre

Bye bye empire. Britain won’t survive a nodeal Brexit crash. It has no FTAs with third nations in reach.

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