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PostAppraising Boris Johnson (Timothy Ashby, Spain, 08/10/19 4:01 am)
Fast forward 431 years from my previous posting to today's Britain. John asked us to get the BoJo Ball rolling on WAIS, so I'll add my observations on the new PM along with thoughts on Brexit as the two subjects are intertwined.
It is wrong to call Boris "Britain's Trump." Even half asleep, BoJo could run intellectual rings around The Donald, who judging by his unscripted speeches, and boasts that he doesn't read, has yet to finish See Spot Run. Boris is a serial philanderer like his US counterpart, but then, many politicians in both countries have the morals of alley cats. Speaking of cats, one big plus in BoJo's favour is that he, like former PM David Cameron, actually likes cats, whereas the odious "MayBot" so repelled Larry the Downing Street Cat that he ran from her. See appended photo of Larry and BoJo taken on "International Cat Day" (August 8th).
BoJo's problem is that he is as seriously out of depth as a free diver in the Mariana Trench. The host of lickspittles, third-raters and idiots (with the exception of the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, whom I've met several times) appointed to his cabinet had to literally sign a Brexit-or-Bust pledge to get their jobs. Their general level of stupidity is profound. The new foreign minister and erstwhile Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, is infamous for admitting that until recently he did not fully appreciate the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing for UK trade (it is the number one gateway to the UK's largest market, the EU), and the smarmy little Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (whose job is to do whatever the PM tells him), suggested yesterday that financial chaos could be avoided on November 1st, the day after the UK exits the EU on a "No Deal" basis, by shutting the financial markets.
The Johnson government is rushing headlong into a "No Deal" scenario, even though many cabinet ministers (including the PM) are aware of the negative economic and social consequences. The UK is still an EU member--Brexit hasn't even happened--yet since the 2016 referendum Pound Sterling has fallen by 25% against a basket of currencies (it fell again yesterday after news that the economy shrank for the first time in almost seven years, as Brexit uncertainty fuelled fears that the country will move into recession before the end of the year). Foreign Direct Investment has fallen by 25% since 2017, over £1 trillion of assets have been transferred out of Britain in the past year, the current account deficit is running at around £30 billion, the GDP-debt ratio is now at 86%, the economy has lost over £60 billion in the past year and future growth over the next two years is projected to lose the economy a further £1.2 trillion. Major manufacturers have reached the limit on places to stockpile parts for inputs. My daughter's company, the aerospace giant Rolls Royce plc, spent £100 million on stockpiled parts so far this year.
My friends in the intelligence services take seriously the Irish government's recent warning of increased risks of violence in Northern Ireland after Brexit. The Republic of Ireland's 2019 government risk register, initially published earlier this year but revised last week, added a section stating that "uncertainty around a physical border on the island could also be expected to become a focus for dissident republican paramilitary recruitment and activity."
Where is this leading? Certainly to a further sharp decline in the value of Sterling (yesterday morning Blackrock--the world´s largest and most respected asset management company--increased the risk likelihood of the GBP reaching parity with the USD which of course implies somewhere between EUR 0.8 to 0.9), and probably to an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
Plans are afoot to call a vote of no confidence immediately after Parliament reconvenes on 3rd September. If this goes against the BoJo government (which it could given that I understand that at least 30 Conservative MPs are prepared to vote Aye on a no-confidence motion even it it means they lose their seats in the next election). And it should be noted that the Conservative government is only in power because it has a working majority of one seat, and was only able to form a government because of a pact with the unsavoury Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. If the vote goes against the government, there will be a frantic scramble during a two-week period to form a new government, possibly even by a "government of national unity" such as Churchill led during the War (although I think this unlikely, as Comrade Corbyn has said that he would only support such a coalition if he could be PM).
If a government can't be formed, then there will be a General Election. Conceivably, a BoJo-led party could again emerge with the largest number of seats and form another government. Conservatives hope and pray that Jeremy Corbyn stays as Labour Party leader into the next election, as he is eminently "beatable." A new Labour leader--even the unabashedly Communist Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, whose vision for the UK is "socialism with an iPad"--would probably spell defeat for the Tories, especially if the Brexit Party siphons off votes in key "Leave" constituencies.
Get ready for a scary Halloween.
JE comments: Excellent post, Tim! And apologies to the WAISitudes for promising this yesterday and not delivering. Classes resume in a fortnight, and my day job intervened.
Tim Ashby presents a plausible scenario by which we'll have Boris the Brief. BoJo strikes me as way too clever to be ousted after half a summer in power, but these are extraordinary times.
(WAIS Assistant Editor Gustav Felinus is reprimanding me at this moment: How could I have overlooked ICD/International Cat Day?)
Larry and Boris