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We need to talk about Boris

  • Published at 06:06 pm December 8th, 2019
donald trump-boris johnson
Photo: Reuters

The outcome of the general elections 2019 will decide the fate of the UK

A recent trip to Bangladesh felt like the right time for a self-imposed two-week moratorium on all things Boris and Brexit related. It provided a much-needed respite.

But all good things must come to an end and as such I find myself thrust rudely back into the madness, especially with the upcoming general elections on December 12, the uncertainty of the fate of this country looming over our heads like the sword of Damocles.

“To Brexit or not to Brexit,” this is the question that has been at the forefront of British politics and hounding the British (English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish) people for the last three years.

We have, in as many years, had as many prime ministers. David Cameron, who has disappeared in a puff of smoke after holding the ill-judged referendum on whether to leave or remain in the European Union, taking us over the (Brexit) precipice.

Theresa May, who was thwarted in her numerous attempts to negotiate the Brexit deal is now probably watching from the side-lines as our latest PM Boris Johnson takes this nation further on a one-way journey into a political, social, and economic maelstrom.

I am mortified to admit that for a very brief period during his stint as the Mayor of London I thought Boris Johnson to be “an affable kind of chap” -- a welcome comedic relief during a nail-biting drama. Thankfully, I am cured of this delusion. If we rewind and look back over the past few years, what we see is that his shambolic, bumbling persona belies an intelligent and shrewd man with a self-serving agenda.

Boris has shown time and time again that he subscribes to the Trumpian populism that is in the ascendancy across the pond and much like his doppelganger Donald Trump, has a total disregard for the truth.

What we can learn from both these men is that no matter what your actions are, be unapologetic and never explain yourself. And if you can, jump headlong from one scandal or controversy to another -- neither the media nor the public will be able to keep up.

In 2016, the key figures leading the charge on the Leave campaign during the run-up to the referendum were no other than Boris Johnson and the then leader of the UKIP Party, Nigel Farage.

What was notable about this campaign was that it was based on misinformation and lies. Starting from the unsubstantiated and basically made up figure of £350 million, which allegedly the UK was sending weekly to the EU and which could be diverted to the NHS if we were no longer part of the Union.

To fan the fires of public emotion, they even had the now infamous double-decker bus with this claim emblazoned on its side along with “Let’s take back control” as an added measure. Despite these false claims, no action has been taken against either Johnson or Farage.

Towards the end of August this year, when Parliament was to resume its session after the summer recess, Boris requested the Queen to shut down Parliament for five weeks, from September 9 till October 14.

Ordinarily, this would not have been contentious as proroguing of parliament prior to the Queen’s speech is an acceptable practice.

However, the length of the requested time period and the fact that it came just weeks before the UK was scheduled to leave the EU was seen by many MP’s and the public as a tactical move by the government to limit Parliament’s opportunity to block a no-deal Brexit.

However, on September 24, this was ruled by the Supreme Court to be an unlawful prorogation of Parliament and MPs were ordered to go back to work. Just in this year alone, he has been embroiled in one scandal after another.

We have been privy to incidents in his private life which in my opinion is not our business except had it not been for the fact that the police were called in after a domestic dispute at his residence with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, where the neighbours heard screaming, shouting, and banging.

He was at the time a potential candidate for the Prime Ministerial role. It has also come to light that as Mayor of London, he gave more than £100,000 of public funds and privileged access to three overseas trade missions led by himself to a blonde model turned tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.

He has subsequently refused to discuss his relationship with Arcuri. And yet again he dodges another bullet, this time for the allegation of misusing public funds.

Apart from his questionable ability to run this country and lack of moral integrity, Boris is someone who holds and propagates views that are Islamophobic, homophobic, and racist.

For example, during his time as a journalist, he has written: “The problem is Islam. Islam is the problem,” “To any non-reader of the Koran, Islamophobia -- fear of Islam -- seems a natural reaction and, indeed, exactly what the text intended to provoke” (The Spectator 2005); “It is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes” (Telegraph 2018) -- referring to Muslim women wearing a veil covering their faces or burkha -- he also likened them to bank robbers. He has called black people “smiling piccaninnies” and gay men “tank-topped bumboys.”

One can say that he has the right to freedom of speech but when in a position of power, that should be tempered with a semblance of restraint. The last thing the UK needs is a PM who is a loose cannon.

What is terrifying is that in a couple of weeks we may end up with Boris Johnson as our elected PM. Boris and the Conservative Party have pledged to leave the EU even if it means a no-deal Brexit.

But what they are unwilling to tell the public and what is apparent in leaked government documents is this would result in shortages of food, medicine, and even petrol. The documents also suggest that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would put the NHS at risk. A far cry from the fictitious £350 million being diverted back to the NHS. There are also fears that parts of it will be sold off and privatized. A UK/US trade deal would potentially impact our drug pricing and patents, food safety system, food labelling, and the UK’s current position on climate change.

The outcome of the UK general elections 2019 will decide the fate of the UK. Much like watching a disaster movie unfold across the screen but one where you are unable to look away, I wait apprehensively to see what Boris does next.

Nadia Kabir Barb is a writer.

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