For anyone who is still in any doubt about how unfit Boris Johnson actually is for any office of State, least of all that of leader of our Conservative party and potentially Prime Minister. Here is a reminder of what he actually said immediately before the Brexit Referendum – make your own mind up, but there is only one conclusion in our minds. For the sake of the country and our party, Johnson is best out of politics altogether.
“There is going to be more and more of this stuff; and I can see why people might just think, to hell with it. I want out. I want to take back control of our democracy and our country.
If you feel that, I perfectly understand – because half the time I have been feeling that myself. And then the other half of the time, I have been thinking: hmmm. I like the sound of freedom; I like the sound of restoring democracy. But what are the downsides – and here we must be honest.
There are some big questions that the “out” side need to answer. Almost everyone expects there to be some sort of economic shock as a result of a Brexit. How big would it be? I am sure that the doomsters are exaggerating the fallout – but are they completely wrong? And how can we know?
And then there is the worry about Scotland, and the possibility that an English-only “leave” vote could lead to the break-up of the union. There is the Putin factor: we don’t want to do anything to encourage more shirtless swaggering from the Russian leader, not in the Middle East, not anywhere.
And then there is the whole geostrategic anxiety. Britain is a great nation, a global force for good. It is surely a boon for the world and for Europe that she should be intimately engaged in the EU. This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms: the membership fee seems rather small for all that access.
Why are we so determined to turn our back on it? Shouldn’t our policy be like our policy on cake – pro having it and pro eating it? Pro Europe and pro the rest of the world?
If sovereignty is the problem – and it certainly is – then maybe it is worth looking again at the prime minister’s deal, because there is a case for saying it is not quite as contemptible as all that. He is the first prime minister to get us out of ever closer union, which is potentially very important with the European Court of Justice and how it interprets EU law. He has some good stuff on competition, and repealing legislation, and on protecting Britain from further integration of the euro group.
Now if this were baked into a real EU treaty, it would be very powerful. Taken together with the sovereignty clauses – which are not wholly platitudinous – you can see the outlines of a new role for Britain: friendly, involved, but not part of the federalist project.
Yes, folks, the deal’s a bit of a dud, but it contains the germ of something really good. I am going to muffle my disappointment and back the prime minister.”