With Boris Johnson as prime minister, things can only get worse

Posted By: May 27, 2019

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, May 27, 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her resignation last week.
Who has been the worst prime minister of recent times? There are quite a few candidates jostling for the top spot – Margaret Thatcher and her destruction of working-class industrial communities; Tony Blair and his disastrous war in Iraq; Theresa May and her stalling and intransigence over the Brexit negotiations.

Mrs. May was prime minister when British citizens who had come to the UK as Windrush immigrants were told they could no longer stay because they didn’t have the right paperwork.

She was prime minister when Isis bride Shamima Begum’s citizenship was revoked even though it rendered her stateless – a potential breach of the European convention on human rights.

She was the home secretary when draconian guidelines were brought in to make it as difficult as possible for immigrants to settle and work in the UK.

Mrs. May appointed a secretary of state whose knowledge of Northern Ireland, even more than a year after she was appointed, would fit on the back of a [cigarette] packet.

And she failed to sack Karen Bradley because, despite the secretary of state’s continuing ineptitude, she was one of Mrs. May’s few allies.

Theresa May was a terrible prime minister and utterly unsuited to the job. But at least she gave the appearance of trying. None of those now lining up to take her job will be able to unite a Tory party and country divided into pro and anti-Brexit camps.

Mrs. May’s predecessor David Cameron, who dragged the country into a divisive and disastrous referendum which has ruined the prospects of future generations, caused political debate to descend into public bear-baiting and indirectly led to the odd trend of throwing milkshakes at anyone you don’t like instead of peaceful protest, walked away when the Brexit vote didn’t go as planned.

Periodically emerging from writing his memoirs in his £25,000 “luxury” shepherd’s hut, he takes part in brief news interviews to criticize how the Brexit negotiations are unfolding – rather like the lemming who led everyone else off a cliff but managed to save himself at the last minute.

Arguably Mr. Cameron was the most reviled prime minister since Anthony Eden dragged Britain into the Suez Crisis in 1956.

But that’s likely to change when Boris Johnson inevitably becomes prime minister.

Boris surprised no one by throwing his hat into the race for the Tory leadership long before Mrs. May even announced her resignation last week.

“I’m going to go for it. Of course, I’m going to go for it. I don’t think that is any particular secret to anybody,” he said.

He wasn’t wrong. Boris’s vaunting ambition to be prime minister and finally get one over his former school and university colleague Cameron has been obvious to all for years. He’s rather like Donald Trump in that he wants the job but not necessarily the bother that comes with it.

Even his own father didn’t seem all that convinced. In interviews aiming to show his support for his son, Stanley Johnson talked at length about Boris’s strong grasp of policy but skirted around how rubbish he is in practice.

Many think Mrs. May has made a mess of the Brexit negotiations, and she has, but that will be nothing compared to blunder man Boris, who has already turned almost every EU leader against him.

He has already vowed to let the UK crash out of the EU without a deal in October.

“We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal,” he told an economic conference in Switzerland.

And, showing his famed grasp of policy, he added: “The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal.”

There’s very little that will be good for the north under Boris as prime minister. The DUP might benefit for a short time if he agrees to continue its confidence-and-supply agreement. And we could look forward to a new secretary of state.

But changes at the top will only stall power-sharing talks, adversely affect Brexit discussions and further delay redress payments to survivors of institutional abuse.

Arguably the only person to gain from a change in the Tory leadership will be Boris himself.

In thirty years’ time, A level history students will be asked exam questions on how Brexit led to a split in the Tory party and caused deep divisions in society.

You could almost write the first question already:

’Boris Johnson’s brief reign as prime minister was more destructive than that of David Cameron. Assess the validity of this view.’