Politics

Bullseye

Barring some unforeseen calamity, it seems pretty much certain that Boris Johnson will soon be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He owes much of his popularity with the Tory party and the wider public to his easily understood and uncompromising stance on Brexit. He's made it clear on numerous occasions that Theresa May's disastrous withdrawal deal is dead and that the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on October 31st, with or without any kind of trade deal in place.

The pundit classes have been at pains to point out how the problems of Parliamentary arithmetic persist regardless of who occupies Downing Street. There have already been dark threats from the likes of Dominic Grieve to vote with the opposition and bring down the government if Prime Minister Johnson attempts to take Britain out of the EU on WTO terms. We may yet see if such people have the courage of their convictions because that scenario is entirely possible.

However, in common with Donald Trump across the pond, Johnson is not nearly as dumb as the chattering classes like to think he is, and he's had more than two years to plan his strategy. His uncompromising stance on the biggest issue in a generation shows that he is not the slightest bit scared of Parliament or the mainstream media class.

In other words, he knows he can't miss.

The earth has heaved and the landscape can never return to its previous contours. Maps must be redrawn and a new language for navigation established following the seismic results of the European elections. Today the world looks different across the continent, not just in Britain.

The stunning success of the Brexit Party here in the UK is clearly driven by a deep seated resentment at the shameless shenanigans of our political class over the last three years. However, this uniquely British problem alone does not explain the triumph of Le Pen's National Rally, Salvini's Lega or KaczyƄski's Law and Justice party to name but a few.

There can be no denying it any longer. National identity, Euroscepticism and populism are on the rise across the continent in a way that transcends language, custom and cultural differences. Whilst Farage's Brexit Party shares some similarities with other Eurosceptic movements, there are also many differences between them. What binds them together in opposition to the centrist dominance of past decades is what Marxists would recognise as a growing sense of class consciousness.

It's so much bigger than just Brexit. Here in Britain, what began as a poorly defined sense of alienation has developed into a clear realisation that a large percentage of the population are viewed as little more than dangerously ignorant tax fodder by the established political class. As a result of this realisation, the Brexiteers' trust in political and cultural institutions has collapsed, to be replaced by an understanding that organisation and confrontation are the only viable methods to achieve their broader political and cultural goals.

It should surprise nobody that our airwaves are abuzz with analyses of this week's local election results. With over 1,300 Conservative councillors suddenly separated from their expense accounts, it's inevitable that more than a couple of columnists have noticed that the Tories have returned their worst local election results since the rout of John Major in 1995. We all know what happened a couple of years later when New Labour swept all before them.

While this is a useful yardstick to measure the scale of the catastrophe, the simple arithmetic glosses over a deeper and more fundamental connection those two electoral nightmares. This is a case where superficial differences hide a deeper and more fundamental thread of continuity.

That thread is, of course, the European Union and Britain's perennially uneasy place inside it.

It's worth noting that Margaret Thatcher survived the miners' strike, the Falklands gamble and even the Poll Tax fiasco, but it was her steadfast opposition to the Maastricht Treaty and the creation of the European Union that finally galvanised her own party to wield the knife. Pundits can wax lyrical about Michael Heseltine's principled stance on the Westland issue, but it's no coincidence that he's now uttering his ermine-collared judgements on the horrors of Brexit from the safety of the upper chamber. That a senior frontbencher would knowingly weaken his own party in order to remove a major obstacle to European integration should tell you much about the true loyalties of the Tory grandees.

Whisper it, but there's an alarming degree of similarity between the leaders of our two biggest political parties right now.

It's a matter of some conjecture as to whether this situation is pure happenstance, or the inevitable result of party machine politics backed by big donors and special interests. I've written extensively on how the dual pressures of Brexit specifically and rising populism generally have forced many special interests to finally show us their true colours. In some ways the results have been entirely predictable, although probably a lot worse than many of us would've liked to guess. Perhaps one of the biggest scandals emerging from this whole situation is the startling similarity between the two party leaders, who claim to be implacable enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn's distaste for the modern capitalist West is well documented, so there's no reason to regurgitate the rap sheet in this column. Suffice to say that whenever there's a conflict of interests, his gut instincts always align with those who wish to do his native country harm. Support for a controversial cause like Irish republicanism could be excused as principled if it were a one-off, but when it's part of a decades-old pattern of behaviour, we must conclude that some overarching world view is informing Corbyn's thinking. In short, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition believes that 21st-century Britain is somehow an enemy of freedom and a threat to the rest of the world.

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