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Boris Johnson has been UK Prime Minister for 19-days as this is written and enjoyed the shortest ‘honeymoon’ period ever granted by the media and world governments in British history. That’s 0-days of honeymoon if you’re counting at home.
Which is merely a manifestation of the frustration felt by Britons, the media, foreign powers, and MP’s in the UK House of Commons on account of former PM Theresa May’s 3-year saga of failed Brexit negotiations.
Alas, Theresa May (naively) sought a truly splendid and diplomatic future relationship with the EU, however, EU leaders were having none of it as their noses were so out of joint due to the fact that 17.4 million+ Britons voted in a democratic referendum to leave the EU.
Emotional people rarely make the best decisions.
But when so much is at stake(!) one must be mature enough to put aside their (understandable) human feelings and concentrate on making the best out of the situation.
How Brexit unfolds will largely determine European relations for the next 100-years. Or more.
That’s a lot at stake! Far too much is at stake to allow human emotion to rule Europe’s future. Denial is not an option.
If certain leaders (including those in the UK) can’t wrap their heads around how profound this moment in time is, they should do the honourable thing and resign. It will be better for them, for their country and for their respective political union — whether UK or EU — because no good will ever come of bickering, haranguing, resenting, and ignoring the democratic will of voters.
Let’s hope that EU hurt feelings realize that Europe’s entire future is on the line, and let’s hope that new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson finds a way to; #1, fulfil the result of the June 23, 2016 referendum by October 31, 2019, #2, finds a way forward for Brexit without further hurt feelings on the EU side, and #3, in the post-Brexit era finds ways to make the UK-EU relationship better than it ever was.
A tall order?
Not really. By definition, British Prime Ministers (and German Chancellors, BTW) must be ‘larger-than-life’ characters as their countries are large and important — but not so huge and as powerful as say, the United States, China, Russia, and the monolithic Soviet Union in its time.
Either Boris and Angela are larger-than-life and are therefore up to the task, or they’re somewhat less than that and will therefore fail to lead their countries to a place of mutual harmony and interdependence.
I’ve used Boris and Angela as an example here, but it also applies to the leaders of all G20 nations including those living under the EU27 umbrella.
All of those countries need larger-than-life leaders due to the unique challenges they face — including trying to compete in a world dominated by a still-powerful U.S. economy, an astonishing and still-rising Chinese economy, and the new, but powerful amalgam of CPTPP economies.
Fighting between ourselves only further hands the win to the U.S., China, and the CPTPP group — all of whom we love and respect(!) — but hey, we need to eat too.
So let’s not get in our own way.
What about it, Boris, Angela, Emmanuel, and other EU leaders? What way is it going to be?
Are Europeans going to continue shooting themselves in the foot as they did in the 20th-century (this time not in war, but in endless political and economic bickering) and continue to hand the lead to the three economic superpowers mentioned above?
Or will Europeans become part of their own solution instead of part of their own problem?
Every Country Brings Something to the G7 Table. What Will Boris Bring?
All eyes will be on new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he is the newest leader of a G7 country, to see what he will add to the G7 family. They understand that as of today he’s only 19-days into the job, but by August 24-26 he should be a little further into his new position and more familiar with the reins of power.
It should be noted that much of the work done in advance by the UK’s G7 sherpa team was done by Theresa May and under EU oversight.
But Boris intends to actually deliver Brexit, so it is incumbent upon him to show the world what the refreshed UK will bring (add) to the G7 family.
Bringing a shipload of money (spending commitments) to the G7 just won’t cut it. There’s plenty of that already in the world. What the world needs and what the G7 needs is ideas and practical plans to make the world a better place.
This year’s G7 theme is “Inequality” and “Environment” — which are worthy and interdependent goals. And no doubt, there will be some amount of progress as Merkel and Macron have worked diligently on these issues within their own countries and across the world and are supported by many countries in this.
But what could a new British Prime Minister thrown into the mix only days ago hope to accomplish?
Let’s hope that Boris and his team are working late into the night trying to come up with something so that Britain can be seen to be part of the solution on Inequality and Environment instead of underwhelming the world at this year’s G7.
Post-Brexit, the UK Will Take Care of its Own Poor and Marginalized, and Simultaneously Work to Improve its Own Environment
Which will help the EU to focus on their own problems in that regard, as 67-million Britons will no longer be the responsibility of the EU, nor will the ecology of the entire landmass of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Which is great because it takes those problems right off the EU’s plate.
In that way, 93,628 square miles (242,495 square kilometres) of environment will no longer need to be overseen by the EU, nor will the well-being of 67,000,000 people require one moment of the EU’s time, which should allow the EU27 to concentrate on their own environmental and inequality issues.
But even that’s not good enough, because the G7 not only looks after G7 countries it also sets the bar for other developed and developing countries. Therefore, Boris Johnson must not only solve the UK’s Inequality and Environment problems, the UK as a G7 power is expected to be one of seven countries that set the standard on these important issues and it must be seen to be an important part of the solution across the world.
At the very least, the UK needs to be seen taking strong action on these issues and succeeding, and be found to be creating a working model that other countries could emulate.
The Best Time to Plant a Tree Was 20-years Ago —
The Second Best Time to Plant a Tree is Right Now
Four Step Programme to Lower UK CO2 Emissions by Half
- How to Help the UK’s Poor and Help UK Air Quality?
- Easy. Have Them Plant a Billion Trees in the UK Annually.
- One Billion Trees Will Remove 24-million Tons of CO2 from the Air Each Year.
- Over 8-years (with a bit of ‘lag time’ for them to grow) 8-billion New Trees Could Cut UK CO2 Emissions by Half
What? You heard me. If Boris Johnson were to announce a new programme to plant a billion trees every year in the UK, and hire a large percentage of those UK residents and citizens who hail from the bottom and 2nd-from-the-bottom economic quintiles he would be solving two problems in one.
Trees remove large quantities of CO2 from the air 24/7/365 and sequester it for an average of 40-years and working people face less inequality than non-working people stuck on some kind of welfare programme (no matter how well-intentioned it is) such as the UK’s valiant attempt at an anti-poverty programme, called Universal Credit.
Pay poor people to plant tree seedlings and save the environment at the same time!
It’s not going to solve 100% of Inequality. It’s not going to solve 100% of the CO2 problem. But such a programme would be a relatively cheap way to improve the lives of those stuck in the inequality trap and improve UK air quality.
It shouldn’t be a temporary programme. Rather, it should become a permanent part of the UK government’s mandate to monitor air quality across the UK 24/7/365 and to order as many seedlings planted as possible to help counter the UK’s anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2 emissions.
Fifty-years from now, the ‘UK Ministry of Ecology and Forest Creation’ (or whatever it would be called) should still be hiring individuals experiencing inequality to plant enough trees to maintain the UK’s air quality on an annual basis!
Bonus: Improving City Spaces with Urban Forests
Not only could low income workers earn plenty of money planting trees in rural and wilderness areas of the UK;
But each UK city or county could hold a referendum to decide which is their most crime-ridden or dilapidated city block (or rural area) and submit the result to their respective MP for funding to; a) mow down that city block with bulldozers, b) prepare the ground for the planting of a city forest, c) plant the trees and install a walkway such as in New York City’s Poet’s Walk (photo below) d) hire the workers from a pool of workers selected from the bottom economic quintile and the second from the bottom economic quintiles.
And, most important of all; as soon as the workers are finished creating their first city forest, have the next location already approved and ready for workers to begin transforming it into a city forest that thousands of citizens can enjoy all year.
Re-Tree the UK Within 20-years!
Such a programme could complement groups that are already working to re-forest Sherwood Forest in Nottingham to its former (much larger) extent, for one example.
In fact, Boris; Why not call the leader of that programme and ask for a re-foresting presentation to show G7 leaders attending the summit?
There seems to be plenty of hectares that need planting in the UK but not enough people-power to get the job done in any reasonable timeframe.
Hire the people who need to earn income to plant the trees we need to clean our air.
Now, that’s what I would call being part of the solution instead of part of the problem!
As befits the UK’s rightful place in the world.
- What Trees Absorb the Most Carbon Dioxide? (Hunker.com)
- Deforestation: Did Ethiopia plant 350 million trees in a day? (BBC.com)
- How much CO2 can a giant sequoia store? [1438 tons] (DewHarvest.com)
- Tree Planting for Carbon Sequestration (Congressional Research Service)
- The National Forest (UK) 25-years of Transformation (The National Forest)
- Trees for Life – Restoring the Caledonian Forest in Scotland (Trees For Life)
- Workless households for regions across the UK (Office for National Statistics)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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)
- 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.