Thursday, 15 February 2018
Brexit means Boris
Boris Johnson has given another Brexit speech. I have to confess, I never quite grasp the purpose of Boris’s orations, at least not beyond the furtherance of his own career. The amiable buffoon character fooled nobody; I’m not expecting the world statesman shtick to bolster his image. And as far as reaching out to Remainers is concerned, surely Boris had to be one of the worst possible choices; for many he is the face of Tory treachery and opportunistic jingoism.
As for his speech: Brexit means a more open Britain, a more outward facing Britain – what does any of that actually mean? Who really cares? Leavers didn’t vote for it; the world market argument is fallacious. And Remainers don’t get it: Matthew Parris, on PM yesterday, tried to claim that Boris’s inner liberal was making the case for ‘nice Brexit’ in the face of nasty Little-Englander Brexit. To his credit he did admit that he was an angry, unforgiving, bitter Remainer who would probably hate leave voters for the rest of his days, but this just shows how far we’ve come along the federalist path in the last four decades.
Throughout the dying 20 years of the last century, the EEC was a pain in the arse, a bunch of Johnny Foreigners poking their noses into our business and blocking our every attempt at reform. A few decades of heavy PR though, and it’s not just millennials who now declare themselves ‘European’. Can they not see that the British will never be truly accepted as part of the continent, except for a few highly lauded cosmopolitans who own parts of it and who don’t possess a smidgeon of Britishness beyond saying ‘sorry’ far too often... usually on behalf of the rest of their ignorant islanders.
Sadly, I agree with Parris in that Boris’s speech will do nothing to mollify Remainers and little to inspire Leavers to turn yet another cheek in the direction of the commission. The battle lines are drawn and I have to say I blame the Remainers. Had the referendum gone the other way, Leavers would have been disappointed, for sure; some may have even carried on campaigning for a while, but I’m pretty certain that the majority would have shrugged, accepted it and got on with business as usual.
The hard core Leave movement would have kept on rattling the collecting tins, of course, but Ukip would have gone into a lengthy hibernation and the broadcasters would have given zero-to-negligible air time to their concerns. By now it would have been a largely forgotten event and Boris Jonson would have become an irrelevance; his epitaph reduced to ‘former Mayor of London’.
Vote for me... I mean Brexit!
But Boris is clearly still eager for power and hungry to leave a lasting legacy and the nasty little barb in his speech, coining the adjective ‘Faragiste’ as a descriptor for those who most loyally made the case to leave, was a clear and unattractive ploy to appeal to his detractors. Nobody was fooled, however and his relevance remains sidelined. The principal effect of his speech will be... nothing. No opinions were influenced, no minds were changed and today it’s business as usual – the Remainers will carry on remoaning, the placards will remain at the ready and the establishment will continue its struggle with the meaning of democracy.