Thursday, 7 July 2022 — The Van Says…
Spot the difference
Today sees the resignation of Boris Johnson, a British Prime Minister who has caused more problems than he has made progress. The world’s media will be covering this story in immense detail (and bias), yet there are matters concerned with both himself, his successor and the the western world as a whole that are being highlighted by this fiasco.
The UK Prime Minister has resigned from his position today, yet whilst he wishes to remain in power until the autumn there is increasing pressure for him to leave Downing Street sooner. This brings to an end a little under three years in office as British premier, and although the pandemic was possibly the greatest challenge to face any leader over the last half-century, the manner in which Johnson has handled his mandate has left a lot to be desired. From making gaffes to hiding in fridges to avoid the press, for all his alleged ‘Britishness’, his rule has been more akin to Benny Hill than British haughtiness. The demeanor and statesmanship required of a leader has been completely absent from Johnson’s time in office, with everything from Partygate (which was covered in a previous article) to the Owen Paterson affair to his latest debacle regarding Chris Pincher slowly eroding his popularity. Whilst he was the premier that finally engineered Brexit, the hallmark of his mandate has been of repeated scandals, his inconsistency being described as ‘an out-of-control shopping trolley, veering from position to position’ by former Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings.
The World Stage
Aside from the pandemic and Brexit, Johnson rather than leading his country, has followed a path dictated by others, the tide of global affairs not only sweeping the UK along, but the PM in many cases ensuring that Britain led the way on a course set from Washington. It is no news that most European nations are merely parts of the American Empire, yet unkempt Boris has been attempting to please the western establishment in the same way a shaggy dog humps its owner’s leg. This has meant that London is now more of a slave to global forces than ever, yet looking at other leaders, he is hardly alone in this respect. Moreover, he has failed to listen to those around him or react correctly to many challenges that have faced him. No leader is perfect, but Boris Johnson’s career at Number Ten has merely lurched from crisis to crisis.
The World Reacts
The western world will naturally be concerned that not only a staunch advocate of the western establishment but one of the Ukraine’s principal supporters is now out of a job. After saying that Putin must go, it is now Johnson that is out on his ear, and in a most ignominious fashion at that. The East however will delight at Bojo’s demise, a nation that accused Putin of having plastic surgery now having to find a new face to lead the UK on its Drang nach Osten along with other nations. Those states that have been attacked by the collective West with Britain in tow will also be looking at the rogue’s gallery of new faces, yet knowing that for all the appointments that will inevitably occur in London, no real change will happen.
For all his allegiance to Washington and its élite, Johnson is only one of many puppets that fill the corridors of power in London and the western world today. It is doubtless that in the quest for a new leader, there will be the same backbiting and bitching as with any power struggle, but looking at not only those who want the top job but those who already have it in other nations, there is no great change in the offing. Far more worrying is the fact that in the UK there is no cohesive opposition. There is the Labour Party, but far from offering the change that it claims, its leader, Keir Starmer is arguably more of an establishment man than Johnson.
It is still too early to say who will bid for a shot at Downing Street, and who the front runners are will take months to become clear. We can however propose some of the potential names that may be presented and take a closer look not at their chances but also at how they may take the UK into the future.
A former journalist and erstwhile ally of Boris Johnson, Gove has a very high standing within the Conservative Party. He was an ardent Brexiteer and has twice previously run for the top job. He is a very senior Tory and unlike many in his party, he is considered to be a bit of a ‘gray man’, his career not being riddled with scandals or controversy. He will invariably be an attractive candidate to those who want a ‘steady hand on the helm’, yet just as with any of the candidates, no positive change can be expected. He may be a gray man, but he is certainly not the gray cardinal that the Conservatives need to pull them out of this crisis.
Sajid Javid is former chancellor and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care as well has having held other governmental posts. He had an eighteen year career in banking and his principal strengths are finance and business. He was the first senior minister to quit his position, he seeing that the posture taken by Boris Johnson in relation to Chris Pincher as incompatible with his position. He has only run once for the Tory leadership, he lending his support to Boris Johnson after finishing the leadership race in fourth place. Javid is an avid neoconservative and has regularly attended and spoken at American Enterprise Institution conferences, he being a supporter of overseas military actions. He is a very strong contender, yet as the UK heads towards a recession, does the country want another foreign war?
Another potential contender in the leadership race is Rishi Sunak who was also Chancellor of the Exchequer until resigning from his position this week. Just like Javid, he too has a past in the banking sector, he and his wife who is the daughter of an Indian billionaire having a collective wealth of around 700 million dollars. Whilst not embroiled in the same scandals as the Prime Minister, there was considerable controversy regarding his wife’s tax affairs and he was fined for lockdown breaches. Not as strong a contender as Javid, Sunak lacks his ‘charisma’, he being more of a financier than a dynamic leader.
In the last conservative leadership battle it was Hunt who finally lost to Johnson, yet in spite of this loss, his esteem within the party remains high. He has managed a number of different business ventures in the past and was formerly the richest cabinet minister after the sale of Hotcourses. His career, just as with Gove has had few blemishes, and being part of the moneyed élite, his candidacy for the top job is high even if his chances of success are rather lower.
She is favored by many in the party and is currently Foreign Secretary just as Boris Johnson was prior to becoming Prime Minister. She has held a number of governmental positions and is favored by many due to her very conservative views. She did make a complete fool of herself earlier this year by displaying an absolute ignorance of geography, going as far as mistaking Voronezh and Rostov as parts of the Ukraine. Liz Truss is inexplicably the darling of many in the party, but after seeing her previous gaffes, does London really need another blue-blooded Benny Hill in Downing Street?
A three-year tenure in office is now coming to an end, yet in spite of all the drama concerning current events, it is Johnson and Johnson alone who is largely to blame for his current predicament. Far more importantly, the last three days of his adamant refusal to resign in the face of mass resignations that will dictate his future after a new leader is chosen. A week is a lifetime in politics, yet in the face of so many key ministerial departures, his failure to recognize the inevitable means that the last three days will be the death knell of his political career. A huge error of judgement regarding the appointment of Chris Pincher as Deputy Chief Whip means that Johnson is the now whipping boy of the Tory establishment.
There is however a twist to this affair. Whilst Boris Johnson may be the goofy Brit he is, there is no clear candidate to succeed him, bonehead Boris being the best of a very bad bunch. With Gove being in same characterless vein of John Major, Sunak being more a financial wheeler-dealer than real leader, Javid wanting foreign wars whilst Truss rides around on tanks trying to find them, the upcoming race to replace Johnson truly will be a race to the bottom…