“Good old Boris Johnson”, I expect someone, somewhere is saying tonight. He wants to unite the country around the government’s “Brexit vision”. He doesn’t want his fellow Brexiters to rub remainer noses in it. This cannot be the same Boris Johnson who lied his way through the referendum campaign of 2016, can it? It surely can.
The first thing to note is that Theresa May’s government has no “Brexit vision” at all. She has no policies on it either, just evasion and empty rhetoric. Her senior cabinet figures held two days of talks the week before last to decide what they wanted from Brexit. Given the referendum was almost two years ago, this is an alarming state of affairs. Given that they came up with nothing at all, you wonder where this country is going. I can give you a clue: it’s going to hell in a handcart.
Johnson’s speech had absolutely nothing to do with building unity. Today he played yet another game of bluff. After his speech, which was classic Johnson waffle, he was repeatedly asked whether he would resign from May’s cabinet if they finally agreed on a soft Brexit. Johnson repeatedly declined to give the answer which can only mean that he would resign in such circumstances. We absolutely know this to be true because Johnson cares about just one thing: Johnson.
If May had a spine, she would sack Johnson. In fact, she should have sacked him months ago. But she hasn’t, won’t and didn’t. As Johnson cares only for his career, then May cares only about keeping the Tory party together. That is why, with barely a year before we actually leave the EU, the government does not have a clue what it wants.
This country voted narrowly to leave the EU. I do not believe they voted to leave the single market or the customs union. I’m not sure they voted to make themselves, or more specifically their children, poorer, either, even if many of them have done exactly that.
I’m afraid I am still very much a remoaner and I am not going to change my mind. Johnson, who was an enthusiastic EU supporter until he decided his leadership ambitions would be better suited by campaigning to leave the EU, is the most untrustworthy politician in the land, so it is essential to believe the opposite of whatever he says.
If we really must leave the EU, the only compromise I would accept would be to stay in the customs union and single market and for people to choose some form of associate membership of the EU if that enabled us to retain some of the rights we enjoyed in the EU. (For those who support Brexit, they could of course ditch their EU passports, lose the right to live, love, study and work abroad, as they voted to do.)
Johnson will, I suspect, make his leadership move sometime during 2018. If you thought this country was in a mess now – and it is – then wait until the next Tory leadership election. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.