Johnson realises his destiny as Britain loses its credibility

Johnson realises his destiny as Britain loses its credibility, by Paul Kelly.

The bluster, bravado and unpredictability of Boris Johnson, now realising his destiny, cannot conceal the omens of British decline as Johnson seeks to remove Britain from the EU and counter the impression of a nation perilously divided and losing global influence.

“The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters, they are going to get it wrong again,” he declared in characteristic fashion after his audience with the Queen. “The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we’re going to restore trust in our democracy.” …

Boris in full flight

Johnson won the leadership contest for one reason — while he is unlikely to salvage Britain from its trajectory of chaotic decline, he might salvage the Tory government and keep the conservatives in office, thereby denying power to the loathsome socialist throwback, Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson is a vote winner: he won two elections as mayor of London, a progressive city; he has a capacity to appeal to both conservative and progressive voters; and he spearheaded the successful Brexit campaign, despite having initially wavered about which side he would back. …

Having purged his ministerial opponents, Johnson now leads a “no excuses” pro-Brexit government with his pledge to quit the EU on October 31, “no ifs or buts”.

The opening rhetoric from Boris had a ring of Winston Churchill. The challenge he faces is the most daunting for Britain since World War II.  …

Churchill presided over a country of growing unity in wartime while Johnson will preside over a country of bedrock divisions sure to endure for many years in peacetime. In war, the British people ­accepted huge sacrifices; in Brexit, the people are unlikely to accept economic hardship with equanimity. …

Finally comes the prospect of a permanently fractured polity since much of Westminster, Whitehall, the city of London and the media will be alienated from an outcome they never believed was Britain’s destiny. In cultural and economic terms, Brexit will probably widen the gulf between journalist David Goodhart’s “somewhere” and “anywhere” Britons; that is, ­between nationalists and cosmopolitans.