By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu
The historic victory of the flamboyant and charismatic Boris Johnson as the new British Prime Minister and successor to Theresa May did not come as a surprise after all to political watchers who had been following the British Political drama since the Brexit impasse began about three years ago. Political pundits including British exit polls had earlier predicted that the loquacious former British Foreign Secretary Johnson would secure a decisive victory against his fellow Conservative Party challengers at the party’s Convention for the leadership of the deeply divided party.
It was therefore a fait accompli when Johnson overwhelmingly defeated his sole challenger and the immediate past Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the keenly contested election with a wide margin of 92, 152….Votes for Johnson and a little over 46, 000 votes for Hunt, representing about 66.4%. Johnson’s victory did not come so easily as he initially faced stiff opposition from a pack of other formidable contenders for the Party leadership position during the elimination process in accordance with the Conservative Party’s Constitution.
The Conservative Party under the inept and visionless leadership of the immediate past Prime Minister, Theresa May was completely torn apart and in total disarray and therefore needed a strong and pragmatic leader to salvage its terribly battered image in the eyes of the British people. The strong and consistent campaign launched by Johnson during the leadership tussle and which dramatically gave him the decisive victory was his vigorous and unrelenting campaign for the United Kingdom to exit from the fifty one years old European Union during the referendum in 2016. Johnson was clearly in the fore front during the campaign for “Yes” votes as opposed to the lackluster and sitting on the fence stance of his challengers during the Brexit Campaign as some of them were later converts to the Brexit movement as was the case with the former Prime Minister Theresa May who later jumped on the Brexit band wagon after she became the Prime Minister in 2016.
It is worthy of note that during the series of televised debates among the party leadership contenders, the new Prime Minister Johnson was unequivocal on his strong position that Britain must exit from the European Union (EU) by the scheduled departure date which is 31st October, 2019 “with or without a deal” while his main challenger Hunt, was hesitant but argued that he would rather re-open the Brexit negotiation with the E.U leaders with a view to securing a “new deal” which could eventually be approved by Parliament should he win the leadership context and subsequently became the next Prime Minister.
It was indeed a sweet and great victory for Boris Johnson whom President Trump of the U.S had earlier endorsed to win the Premiership contest. It would be noted also, that both President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson Share things in common since both have similar personalities as extroverts, loquacious and penchant for controversies as well as enjoying a great deal of showmanship in their public life.
It is no gainsaying the fact however, that the honey-moon between Trump and Johnson would be short-lived and soon be over after Johnson must have settled down to serious government business at No 10 Downing Street even as he would immediately be confronted with the monumental challenges facing the British people, uppermost is the seemingly intractable Brexit imbroglio which has so far defied all possible solutions to the political quagmire.
The British people who are already downcast and frustrated by the lingering Brexit saga and uncertainty would obviously look up to Johnson to urgently find a lasting solution to the crisis and expect him to make a great success of his Premiership after his predecessor May had failed woefully to deliver Brexit deal to Britons in accordance with their wishes as freely and democratically expressed during the 2016 referendum. It is time to get down to business and Prime Minister Johnson should not be under any illusion or underestimate the enormity of the political challenges currently facing the British nation. These challenges could not be simply wished away by mere display of charismatic exuberance or brilliant rhetoric but require urgent and collective action by the British political gladiators to deal decisively with this political monster called Brexit.
Prime Minister, Johnson no doubt, will be walking on a tight rope when he eventually presents his blue print for a “no deal” proposed in Parliament even as many MPs on both sides of the political divide including Johnson’s loyalists as well as other minority parties would almost certainly vote against his “no deal” proposal and consequently the Brexit debacle would continue to linger and to the detriment of the British public.
Meanwhile, the European Union leaders at Brussels were already preparing for the worst case scenario of “no deal” as the 31st October 2019 deadline for the British departure is fast approaching. It was reported in diplomatic circles however, that Boris Johnson might probably approach the newly elected E.U leaders at Brussels with a view to reaching a compromise on certain contentious issues such as the backstop on the Irish border among other thorny issues. It remains to be seen however, if the new E.U leadership would be favourably disposed to re-open the Brexit deal which the Union had on various occasions declared as a “closed deal” even as the E.U might not after all, welcome a “no deal” scenario which obviously will not be in the overall interest of both parties and as such should be averted.
In another rather bizarre development or twist which could further compound the perennial Brexit crisis was the recent threat by the former British Prime Minister John Major to the effect that he would soon initiate a legal action in the British court to stop the British Parliament (House of Commons) from performing certain legislative functions on Brexit deal and which might precipitate an unprecedented constitutional crisis in Britain.
According to British political pundits and commentators, a second referendum on Brexit had become imperative in order to ascertain yet again the true wishes of the British people. Political watchers had observed that the last referendum in 2016 which approved Brexit by 52% “Yes votes” as against 48% “No votes” with a margin of a mere 4% could not be said to reflect the true wishes of the British people.
In the same vein, the anti-Brexit or pro-European campaigners had equally argued that there was lack of clarity regarding the long term implications or consequences of Brexit for the British public and her economy during the 2016 referendum and therefore, a second referendum would afford the British people yet another opportunity to critically examine the reality on the ground to enable them make an informed choice for their future and that of their generations yet unborn.
Never-the-less the new British Prime Minister Johnson, must quickly deploy his political sagacity and brinkmanship to harmonize all diverse and shades of opinion among the political class to deal decisively with the unending Brexit impasse and uncertainty in the country. The British people had for long been subjected to unnecessary tension and uncertainty due to the lingering Brexit crisis and the time to end this malady is now.
In his first major policy statement on Brexit after assuming office at No. 10 Downing Street, Johnson reiterated his earlier resolve that Britain must leave the European Union on 31st October, 2019 “with or without a deal” and not “ifs or buts”. It is the high expectation of the British people that Prime Minister Johnson has the capacity and the magic wand to quickly resolve the Brexit logjam so as to restore the image of Britain as a major player in the arena of global politics and diplomacy.
In conclusion, as Prime Minister Johnson grapples with the complex Brexit imbroglio, he is currently faced with another diplomatic disaster in the Anglo-U.S relationship following a diplomatic row between the U.K and her most trusted and dependable ally, the U.S and coming on the heels of the leaked classified document in which the erstwhile British Ambassador to the US was reported to have launched undiplomatic and most damaging attack on Trump’s Administration whom he described as ‘inept and incoherent”.
This rather embarrassing incident might affect the age long traditional relationship between the two close and trusted allies and Johnson must act quickly and nip in the bud, the unfortunate incident as Britain could ill afford another diplomatic crisis and certainly not with the highly unpredictable and extremist demagogue President Trump of the United States and his administration.