Sunday 25 August 2019

John Downing: 'BoJo ends the canvass with a British bulldog impersonation'


Boris Johnson leaves his office in London. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Boris Johnson leaves his office in London. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
John Downing

John Downing

Let's give it a bit of "good news - bad news".

So, the good news is that this farcical UK Tory leadership campaign is over and the most anticipated outcome - a Boris Johnson win - will be confirmed today.

Bad news is that he will be installed as prime minister tomorrow - and this phoney carry-on known as Brexit will go up a gear, getting very real indeed. Even if we don't believe his rhetoric, we know that serious accidents can happen when little boys like BoJo play with fire.

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We were reminded of this when the one universally known as "just Boris" ended things yesterday with a good old British bulldog impersonation. He doubled-down on his pledge to take Britain safely out of the EU by the October 31 deadline, reviving that old saw about a new technological fix to avoid a return of a hard Border in Ireland.

"They went to the Moon 50 years ago. Surely today we can solve the logistical issues of the Irish Border?" Johnson wrote in his weekly diatribe in the British 'Daily Telegraph'.

His rival, Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile faced criticism over his handling of Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf on Friday. Several political colleagues accused him of devoting too much time to his leadership challenge and not enough time to his day job as foreign minster.

Theresa May - remember her? - chaired a meeting of the UK's Cobra emergencies committee to prepare a response to the stand-off. Surely that was one of her final acts in her last full day in office. Jeremy Hunt later updated the UK parliament on the situation in the Gulf. It was at least a semblance of doing the day job and tackling political issues which really matter in a country besotted by Brexit since June 2016.

An online poll of 1,199 Conservative Party members conducted over the weekend by the Conservative Home website put Johnson on 73pc. The bookmakers gave Hunt approximately a one in 20 chance of winning - but if he does capture one in four voters he will surely have staked a claim for a senior government job.

Johnson will begin work with a razor-thin majority of three in the House of Commons. His many opponents, both within and outside the party, will be ever so keen to use this to scupper his leadership sooner rather than later.

By lunchtime yesterday his renewed pledge to take Britain out of the EU, with or without a deal, upset pro-EU government ministers who continued to quit and it also frightened the money markets. The pound was left trading near a two-year low against the dollar and the euro.

Theresa May's calamitous three years in office will end once she appears in parliament tomorrow for her weekly question session.

Then she will head to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to Queen Elizabeth who will invite the new Conservative leader to form a government.

Irish Independent

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