In an era of continuous political surprises, the coronation of Boris Johnson was the very opposite of one. On Tuesday, the new leader of the Conservative party and of the government beat his rival, the current Foreign Minister and “Remainer” Jeremy Hunt (who, judged by the criteria of political spectacle that even British politics has lately succumbed to, had about the same entertainment value as an old mannequin forgotten in a basement at Goodwill) with nearly twice the number of votes. A landslide, of sorts.
The world is watching and trying to take notes, but inevitably giving up in the face of such an ineffable display of democracy and inclusion: at the crucial moment of the country’s greatest crisis since 1945, the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy has just elected its leader by the vote of 0.13% of the population, namely the approximately 170,000 members of the Conservative party who are clinging to the hope that Johnson would rescue the party from its well-deserved decline.
In keeping with the principle of “unity,” Johnson’s preferred slogan in the campaign, the news of his victory soon produced five fresh resignations from the government, including the Ministers of Justice and Education, David Gauke and Anne Milton, the last remnants of the government of the dearly departed Theresa May, on a slow path to oblivion for over a month now.
At least, this entirely preordained sequence of events in this interminable comedy of errors set in our still-convulsing West—where yet another rich, white, womanizing blowhard has come to power through the easy path of class privilege—does not detract at all from the suspense of the impending finale.
After much bloviating about a no-deal Brexit, delivered in his unmistakable manner as a combination of a used car salesman and university don, Johnson finds himself afflicted by the same night terrors that hounded his predecessor: a Brexit agreement not subject to renegotiation, a parliamentary majority of only two seats even with the support of the DUP, Scotland with one foot out the door, that accursed Northern Irish backstop and the specter of early elections, in which the Conservatives would have to work hard to beat the surging Lib-Dem opportunists—literally resurrected from the dead by Brexit and by the first victim of the struggle it engendered, Jo Swinson—and, indeed, their very own Nigel Farage, who doesn’t have to worry about his pension anymore with his salary as an MEP.
The only reason Labour is not on that list is because of the paranoia reigning in the party currently led by Corbyn, which seems intent to shoot itself in the foot in the ongoing anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism scandal. (And here there are only two possible explanations: either a bout of suicidal impulse in which the party is choosing to scupper their own leader’s chances of victory by making a show of self-hatred in perfect Lutheran style, or—the simpler explanation—pure political idiocy.)
Most importantly, “Boris” (the only British politician who has been able to persuade the national and international press to take up the idiotic habit of calling him by his first name alone) will now have to eat his previous words: his comedian-style rhetoric has ensured that there is plenty on his plate.
After the waxing lyrical of the campaign, now he is sinking up to his neck in the dry prose of actual government, where his main foil will be none other than the right wing of his own party, which desperately wanted his ascent in order to survive—and, even more so, that consistent slice of the population who are Brexit die-hards, treating it as if it were a matter of life and death, and to whom he has been an unfaithful lover, making endless promises, many of which he has already forgotten.
And if he were to choose to not engage in voluntary amnesia and really wanted to put into practice the words that brought him the much-coveted Prime Minister’s seat, he would have to go to the extreme of trying to impose the so-called “prorogation,” the early closure of the legislative session, in such a way as to prevent the substantial number of parliamentary Remainers from voting against a no-deal Brexit. We remind those who have a life and thus have been failing to keep up with the soap opera that the EU has extended the Brexit deadline until Oct. 31.
All these factors together might make Johnson’s the shortest stint as Prime Minister in UK history before consigning the country to yet another spin of the electoral roulette wheel. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot: the world (of the Conservatives) will certainly not end with a bang, but with a whimper.
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