GP Insights # 107, 27 July 2019
This week, Boris Johnson succeeded Theresa May as the new Prime Minister of Britain. He has the task to deliver ‘do or die,’ pledge for Brexit with just over three months left. The Parliament has already rejected the Brexit deal three times. A large part of Boris Johnson’s role would be to persuade the European Union to revive talks on a withdrawal deal. He has promised that he would ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit to try to force the EU's negotiators to make changes to the accord.
What is the background?
A known controversial figure in the British politics and journalism, Boris Johnson’s supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure, with an appeal stretching beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he is also accused of elitism, dishonesty, laziness, and using racist and homophobic language.
In 2016 Johnson became a prominent figure in the successful “Vote Leave” campaign for Brexit. He was subsequently appointed as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Theresa May but resigned criticizing May's approach to Brexit and the Chequers Agreement. In July 2019 he was elected Conservative Leader and appointed Prime Minister.
When he showed his support for May’s deal, he said, “I genuinely think that unless this thing goes through, the House of Commons is going to steal Brexit.” His logic being, it is this Brexit or Brexit may never happen at all. Just as how bleak the difference in the referendum was, so is the divide in the opinions among the Parliamentarians on the Brexit deal. This uncertainty has led to the rise of a strong-worded leader as Boris Johnson. The Parliament would break for a summer recess and return in September.
What does it mean?
The lawmakers, the pro-EU Conservatives and the members of Parliament have rejected the deal three times. They have also vowed to do the same with Johnson if he would try to take Britain out of the EU without a deal. If nothing changes over summer break, Boris Johnson might find a parliament even more obstructive than they were with Theresa May.
Britain seems to have failed to understand and address the fundamentals that have led to Brexit. The referendum has exacerbated, rather than resolved the fundamentals that led to Brexit. Boris Johnson might be their last bet at hoping the process ends, one way or another, an accurate representation of the mood of the people.