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Boris Johnson: An Upbeat Week 1

by John Brian Shannon

Finally, things are happening in the UK, now that the extended process for choosing a new Conservative leader is finally over. Thankfully.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson had quite the week, didn’t he?

First there was his initial (short) speech in front of 10 Downing St (see the video here) and nicely followed-up by a full length speech in the House of Commons (see that video here) that outlined his priorities for the country. So far, so good.

Then it was off to visit the leaders of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, followed by a positive appearance at a factory in the West Midlands. All well and good.

Further into the Prime Minister’s first week in office some negatives began to appear, such as the Scottish Conservative Party leader questioning Mr. Johnson’s thinking on Scottish affairs, and then the Conservatives lost a seat in a byelection reducing their parliamentary majority to one.

So, they remain the government, and as long as there isn’t a contentious issue that divides Conservative MP’s the Prime Minister will continue governing the United Kingdom.

However, should a divisive issue appear when the House of Commons resumes in September and any number of Conservative MP’s abstain or vote against a government bill, it could precipitate a Vote of No Confidence in the government, and the entire government could conceivably fall. This would bring about a snap election and it’s anyone’s guess as to who would win.

From here, it looks like the Liberal Democrats would win a tiny majority and with such little experience on the government bench between them, that government would likely fall itself within days or weeks. Maybe long enough to cancel Brexit, or not.

But the LD’s should exercise caution in regards to Brexit if they, by accident, happen to become the government.

Why? Well, for one, Brexit came about as a result of a democratic vote by the citizens of the UK. And while implementing Brexit has been delayed for 1137-days as of this writing, the delay has in no way undone the result of the democratic vote.

Just because Liberal Democrat MP’s don’t like Brexit doesn’t mean they’re free to not respect the will of the people. A majority of UK voters DID vote to leave the EU.

Indeed, entire UK governments have been elected into power on a smaller margin than the 4% margin of victory Brexiteers enjoyed and those governments served their full term in power. Saying the Brexit vote was won by a small margin of victory and is therefore something less than legitimate just doesn’t cut it.

Also, some Liberal Democrat constituencies voted to leave the EU, and that, in addition to a majority of UK voters casting their ballot to leave the EU.

  • The EU was officially notified of the UK’s intention to leave the EU via the Article 50 instrument and it accepted the UK’s plan for leaving the EU.
  • The EU signed the Withdrawal Agreement that former UK PM Theresa May and EU President Jean Claude Juncker agreed in early 2019.
  • Subsequently, Theresa May couldn’t get the agreement passed in the House of Commons (3-times!) and the EU itself chose October 31, 2019 as the new Brexit date.
  • Therefore, unless both the UK and the EU sign a new agreement to postpone or cancel Brexit before October 31, 2019, the UK is set to automatically leave the EU on that date.

Understand, leaving the EU on October 31 is the default modality. Changing that date or cancelling Brexit under these circumstances is a very big deal.

So the LD’s would be smart to remember the following points should they form a government prior to October 31, 2019:

  1. A majority of UK voters chose in a democratic referendum to leave the EU and that instruction has yet to be carried out by the government, through no fault of voters.
  2. MP’s are elected to serve the people of the UK — not the other way ’round. The fact that many LD’s don’t like Brexit is completely irrelevant.
  3. Should the LD’s win the right to form a government in a Vote of No Confidence scenario they might win by a tiny margin and could be bounced from power within weeks and Brexit would be ‘back on track’ as soon as the Conservatives resumed power.
  4. Voters have long memories. And should the LD’s cancel the Brexit that voters voted for, they will write their party’s epitaph as the party that went against the will of a majority of the UK people. Good luck ever getting back into power after gaining that kind of reputation! Thenceforth they would become known as the ‘We’ll DO WHAT WE WANT party’.
  5. Liberal Democrats would be wise to know that the reason Brexit is unpopular among some Britons is because of the three long years of economic uncertainty due to the overly-extended Brexit negotiating process. The whole ‘Project Fear’ campaign was wrong, wrong, and wrong again! Not one of their ‘doom and gloom’ predictions came true. In fact, far from it. The UK economy weathered a 3-year stress test called ‘Brexit uncertainty’ and passed with flying colours. In short, Brexit is unpopular (with some) due to the 3-years of uncertainty — not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with Brexit itself. Had Brexit been completed in one year as it should’ve been, there wouldn’t have been any reservations by a small and vocal group of Remainers. (Tail, wagging the dog)
  6. If the LD’s do get elected via a protest vote, they should remember that protest vote victories carry with them less legitimacy to govern than non-protest vote election results. Such governments formed in a protest vote situation aren’t voted-in for any other reason than the voters wish to expel the incumbent government because they’re angry at them for doing something wrong, or for not doing something that voters wanted done — not because the protest vote beneficiaries are themselves overflowing with virtue, or because they’re more popular. They get in because voters wanted the other party out of power and (LD’s in this hypothetical example) simply got more votes than the other protest vote party (Labour, in this example) nothing more. Therefore, it’s not a mandate to govern, it’s a coin toss.

First Weeks are Usually Chaotic. This First Week for new PM Boris Johnson was No Better nor Any Worse Than Any Other PM’s First Week

Of course, the media need to sell newspapers, get airtime, get clicks on their websites, but it’s time to move on. First weeks are always this way and have been since before there were rocks.

Boris Johnson hit a positive note in his first week, got a bit of bad news later in the week, and one hopes he simply carries on as Winston Churchill would do when faced with a similar week — and that is to raise the ante by a factor of one in regards to taking the fight to his political opponents, and even more importantly, continuing to inform Britons about his vision for the country.

Looking too far ahead isn’t a productive use of his time at present, but setting out his government’s plans for the foreseeable future would probably prove comforting to Britons.

And if the Prime Minister can get beyond merely informing Britons and the business community about his near-term plans for the country (which itself is uber-important) and carry right on to ‘the good stuff’ by getting some of those items ticked-off as DONE within the next few weeks, he will be doing himself and his party a world of good.

Let’s hope Boris Johnson has a thick skin and carries blithely on with his mission to create a more upbeat and more successful UK, and that he out-succeeds his political opponents every day until Brexit is completed and proves the ‘doomsters and gloomsters’ wrong for all time.


UK Election: Strengthening Britain’s Brexit Hand

by John Brian Shannon

UK election 2017 - The six party leaders

With a fresh mandate from UK voters, Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating hand should thereby be strengthened — allowing her to obtain the best Brexit deal for Britain. Image by Samankashwaha

Some very smart people a long time ago, decided to prevent another World War by working to unify European countries that share and haven’t always *shared well* the European continent.

To preclude another internecine war they created several brilliant Euro-centric political institutions such as the European Community, the European Economic Community, the European Union, the Eurozone, the European Court of Justice, and other political, economic, and judicial European institutions — and they enthusiastically embraced internationalism and multilateralism via institutions such as the United Nations and NATO.

It wasn’t all about preventing another war, of course. By 1972 it had become as much about improving the pan-European economy as it was about presenting a united bloc to the militarily powerful Soviet Union.

Britain’s decision to join the EC/EEC and later the EU was obviously part of that geopolitical master plan — and if you read the texts carefully enough with a little ‘reading between the lines’ — it becomes obvious to all but the most tone-deaf that senior British politicians of the era and their negotiators considered that Britain might not be married to the continent forever.

To put it forthrightly, Britain joined the European project to help Germany and other countries ‘gel together’ under a unifying organization to prevent another European war — and it’s possible to find internal texts proving that Britain planned for a possible exit from the EC and the EEC and (implied) from the EU, once the continent became permanently united under one political structure.

Therefore, only those too young to remember the history of the EC, the EEC, and the formation of the EU, don’t see that Brexit was always on once the continent had become irrevocably joined.

Not only did Great Britain pay more than it’s fair share in WWI and WWII, it also contributed more than asked during the Cold War, and it contributed more to the European project than any country with the notable exception of the United States.

Now is the time for Britain to leave the EU and make up for lost time. So said 17+ million British voters on June 23rd, 2016.

It is against this backdrop that a majority of Britons still want Brexit, a clean Brexit, and a fair Brexit.

And why shouldn’t they? The UK has paid more than it’s fair share towards the continent since 1914 and still contributes more than it receives from the EU. Britain, the cash cow.

Yet some in Britain can’t stop haranguing the government for having the audacity to try to deliver what the people voted for — Brexit.

Never since Prime Minister Winston Churchill called upon Britons to prevail no matter the hardship has a country needed the strong support of its citizens and all levels of government.

Brexit is going to be one of the biggest challenges the UK has seen in decades.

And instead of ‘All Hands on Deck’ with every person in the country coming together to strengthen the hand of the Prime Minister and her negotiating teams during what will undoubtedly be difficult negotiations complete with EU officials acting the part of the suddenly jilted lover, we have some British people doing everything in their power to derail Britain’s chances of getting a good deal!

It’s your future, people!

I know you lost the referendum, but for God’s sake don’t sabotage your country just because you don’t like the democratic result.

Of course, it’s the job of the loyal opposition parties to provide policy alternatives to the sitting government’s plans. Nobody can blame them for performing their noble calling which has roots going back hundreds of years.

But it seems that some are so upset they lost the democratic referendum that they actually want the government to fail, they want the Brexit that was approved by 17+ million voters to fail, and they want to demean anyone who supported Brexit.

Really, if you prefer the EU to the UK, why don’t you just move there and become a citizen? I’ll help you pack.

This is no time for un-democrats to undermine their own country’s democracy, and who believe in the superiority of an un-elected Brussels cabal that lives off the largesse of UK (and German!) taxpayers — both countries pay more per capita towards the EU than any other country.

All of whom conspired to convince the Prime Minister to call an election to prove to EU negotiators that Britain is united and moving forward with Brexit, and to quell the small number of UK-based naysayers in the Houses of Parliament and on the street — who get far too much airtime on slow news days.

With a fresh mandate from voters on June 8th Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating hand should be dramatically strengthened, thereby allowing her to obtain the best Brexit deal for the UK.

This Prime Minister has gotten stronger every month since being sworn into office, and calling an election to silence the outliers and to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations that will determine Britain’s destiny for decades, may turn out to be a stroke of genius.

Voting to tie one hand behind Theresa May’s back at this point in time only serves to weaken the United Kingdom. Surely no true Briton would consider such a thing.

READ: What Mandate for Theresa May? (Project Syndicate)

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