Boris Johnson is now leading the country after having been chosen to lead the Tory party following Theresa May’s resignation (and failure) as leader and Premier. Johnson won 66% of the vote for Tory leadership cast by approximately 160 thousand members of the Conservative party. The Queen thus invited him to form a new government. Hence Johnson fulfilled his dream of becoming Prime Minister, and entered the famous black door of No. 10 Downing Street -as his role model Winston Churchill. Born in New York 56 years ago, he studied in Britain’s top universities and began his career – not without incidents – in journalism -. He served as MP in 2001, Mayor of London in 2008, re-elected in 2012. He again served as MP in 2015, he led the Leave campaign in the 2018 referendum, he won and was appointed as Foreign Minister in Theresa May’s Cabinet. He resigned in 2018. The recent developments are known: he won Tory leadership, marking yet another success.
“Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers’ best friend, and pushing for a damaging no-deal Brexit,” remarked Labour leader Jeremy Corbin. “But he hasn’t won the support of our Country”, since “the people of our country should decide who becomes prime minister.” “In fact – Clifford Longley, columnist for the Catholic periodical The Tablet, told SIR – Johnson is nothing but the product of the British party system.” The option of electing a prime minister with a general vote might result in a prime minister who is not aligned with his party” with all the difficulties this could entail.
His first speech as Prime Minister, delivered before entering 10 Downing street, is emblematic: eleven minutes in his usual punchy style, to a soundtrack of booing and protests from beyond the security fence.
His speech not devoid of rhetorical phrases (“my job is to serve you, the people, because the people are my bosses”), followed by a set of policy announcements for future government: from street safety with the promise of some 20,000 police officers, to faster processes; from improved NHS “to protect you from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care” to the commitment to fix the crisis in social care; from ensuring quality education for all children in the Country to higher wages and higher productivity, trade, thereby giving business the confidence to invest. The to-do list includes changing the tax rules to foster investment, along with promoting “the welfare of animals.” “My job is to be prime minister of the whole United Kingdom”, ha promised, with the goal of “uniting” and defending the values of freedom, rule of law and democracy that stand at the heart of British history. Then obviously the point on Brexit: “a decision by the people, that we must respect.” It “will create a new and improved partnership with the EU.” In case of a no-deal Brexit, “we will accelerate the work of getting ready” and the prophesized disaster “will be far less serious than some have claimed.”“Boris Johnson seems to rely on what could be described as a Nietzschean ‘triumph of the will’, as if wanting something strongly could overcome any difficulty”, Longley remarked.
“His Churchillian rhetoric will not convince Brussels to change its position. He must have a plan.”
Indeed, Johnson immediately started working energetically, firing 17 ministers and forming a new cabinet: a veritable “carnage” according to British newspapers. For Longley, “this is the right-most, Tatcherian cabinet since the 1990s.” “It will not mend the divisions in the country.” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is the first to be prepared for a breakup: “No doubt Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely”, she stated after Johnson’s speech. It’s a known fact that Scotland does not want to leave the EU.
“I’m not at all sure that we will leave”, Longley said. “Something might very well prevent it from happening.”
Brussels: customary messages were immediately sent out to congratulate and offer best wishes to the new Prime Minister. Donald Tusk for the Council, Jean Claude Junker for the Commission and Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator of the Commission for Brexit, all said they were looking forward to “working constructively” with Boris Johnson. But none of them said that the deal could be renegotiated. The next 99 days will be very interesting, without a doubt.
In the meantime, in a post on Twitter the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, con un tweet, asked for “prayers” for Boris Johnson and for the government: being formed in the coming days. “We pray for wisdom and courage at this time of great challenge” Welby wrote, “as we work to build a shared vision for the future of our country and all its people.” The English bishops issued a statement that was reported by a spokesperson: “The coming months will be extremely challenging. We look forward to working with the government in areas in which we have been working for a long time, particularly schools, the prison reform and assistance to marginalized and vulnerable persons.”