Boris and Brexit—An Opinion
Thirty-six years ago, the United Kingdom joined a free trade zone, the European Economic Community. Prominent Christians were among the founding fathers of that community and it seemed like an obvious good move—and so it proved to be for many years. The entire area prospered and economic activity between the member nations increased the wealth of their citizens.
From Free Trade towards a Federal Government
There is, however, a tendency for people with power to do their best to gain more power. The free trade zone evolved into a supra-national state taking more and more authority over the member nations, creating courts that sat in judgment over the national courts, establishing a parliament that passed volumes of legislation that bound all members states, controlling immigration, admitting nation states that did not meet the membership criteria with subsequent economic chaos and mass people movements within the area, and then creating one super-currency with a European Central Bank. That step was a step too far for the UK. We kept our currency. The next planned step is one military for all of Europe. The EEC had become the EU in its journey from a free trade area to the United States of Europe.
Unwilling to Acknowledge the role of Christian Faith
To my mind, the most important issue was the steady momentum away from its Christian foundations towards a self-proclaimed humanism. Angel Merkel, German Chancellor, publicly stated that she wanted a direct reference to Christianity in the Lisbon Treaty, but her efforts were unsuccessful. There is no reference whatsoever to God or Christian values in the current documents of the EU.
Many citizens of the European Union, chafe under the growing bureaucracy, taxation and wealth redistribution from Brussels, but is it possible to leave? For those who had abandoned their own currency and adopted the Euro, the answer was almost certainly, “No.” The United Kingdom, though, with the Pound Sterling still in place, might just pull it off. When the Conservative Government of David Cameron put the question to the general population three years ago, nearly all the media pundits predicted that, despite the ceaseless griping about Brussels, the people would choose to remain in the EU just to avoid the risk of an economic down-turn. The results shocked both the main-stream media and the political establishment. The people of the UK voted to leave—though by a small margin.
A Clear Vote
The margin, however, wasn’t so small when seen in the context of representative government.
We have 650 members of the House of Commons. Each one represents a voting district and they are normally the voice of the majority of their voters. That was not so when it came to the question of leaving the EU.
408 Constituencies voted to leave.
Only 160 MPs have voted to leave.
There is a clear gulf between the politicians and the people they are meant to represent. To compound that, our Prime Minister for the past couple of years, Theresa May, wanted us to remain and the government she formed had few members who wanted to leave. Those facts are at the heart of the last three years of confusion.
Brexit Without Leaving?
The PM and her team attempted to negotiate a deal, but their hearts weren’t in it. Worse than that, though, was the determination of Brussels to make it very hard to leave and to punish the UK if it succeeded in its efforts to leave. (If they were cooperative, more nations would head for the exit.) Theresa May returned from her many trips to Brussels with a deal that she presented as leaving the EU, but kept the UK captive to the regulations and judicial system of the EU and prevented the UK from negotiating any trade deals with other countries. The big thing that would have changed under her agreement was that the UK would lose voting rights as one of the 28 member states.
Finally, after months of no progress in Parliament, Mrs May announced her intention to resign and the conservative party initiated a process of choosing a new leader. The final step, a vote by the 160,000 members of the party, resulted in a two-thirds majority for Boris Johnson. So, who is he?
A British version of Trump?
The BBC and more liberal press will continue to caricature him as a “British Donald Trump”. But he is different in many respects. That caricature is no doubt because of his firm conservative political beliefs. He had the privilege of very good schooling followed by university at Oxford where he studied Classics and was President of the Union.. He was a political columnist for the Daily Telegraph, a successful mayor of London and was also the author of a biography of Winston Churchill–and it’s a good read. There is no doubt that Churchill is his hero and that he would like to be known as a Churchill-like figure.
What he has in common with Churchill is an optimistic outlook in uncertain times. He has a quick wit, a superb command of language (definitely not Trump-like) and a good sense of humor. He has been characterized as impulsive, and insufficiently detailed, but those who know him well, including one of his professors at Oxford, counter that claim by pointing to his record as a student, as a journalist and as Mayor of London. In that sense, he is more of a Ronald Reagan than a Jimmy Carter. Carter probably had a higher IQ than Reagan, but got lost in the details, while Reagan was a big picture man who surrounded himself with competent people whom he trusted.
Far from Ideal
He is not, however, a good role model for aspiring young people. He left, and is divorcing, his second wife. He has four children by his two marriages and at least one other child from an affair. His current girlfriend, 31 years old, will be moving with him into the Prime Minister’s residence, Number 10 Downing Street. That fact attracts almost as much media attention as his politics. He is known to be antagonistic to the Church, by that I mean the Church of England. Whether or not he is also an adversary of Christian faith in general is not yet clear.
Some Signs of Hope
In these early days of his overall national leadership he has given us some reason to hope. His cabinet and the wider government he formed have demonstrated that he is serious about delivering Brexit. He has also put some very strong characters in position to streamline government. Interestingly, their pay will be related to how much wasteful expenditure they eliminate. His speeches have been very well received by the public. I have to say that the BBC has been consistently downbeat and negative about him and our national outlook. I am hoping that he will have the courage to do away with the TV license fee (£150 per household!) and make them stand on their own commercial success. They have demonstrated a strong left-wing bias for the past couple of decades.
To my mind, his most significant appointment thus far has been to make Jacob Rees-Mogg the leader of the House of Commons. Marti and I admire him and I often listen to his videos just for entertainment. There are several short YouTube clips that show his ability to speak clearly and avoid the pitfalls. Here is one of them:
Of all politicians, he has been the most articulate proponent of Brexit.
Finally, I am glad this has happened during the Trump presidency. President Obama visited here a few years ago and famously stated that if the UK left the EU, they would be at the “back of the line” for any trade negotiations. Trump has said that the UK is at the front of line and, just yesterday, I read that Boris has plans to visit DC three times in the next few months.
Many pundits say he cannot succeed, and others focus on the innumerable and very difficult obstacles, but a few think he will deliver Brexit. That is my hope.