Opinion Columnists 13 May 2022 Farrukh Dhondy | How ...
In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."

Farrukh Dhondy | How will history remember BoJo: ‘Churchillian’ or for UK breakup?

Published May 13, 2022, 11:55 pm IST
Updated May 13, 2022, 11:55 pm IST
BoJo fancies himself as a second Winston Churchill with constant posturing about defying Vladimir Putin as Churchill did with Adolf Hitler
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (AP)
 Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (AP)

“Pride, they say, leads to a fall
But Bachchoo has never seen it
The proud seem to leave mess and shit
And the humble have to clean it.”

From Great Expectorations, by Bachchoo

BoJo fancies himself as a second Winston Churchill with constant posturing about defying Vladimir Putin as Churchill did with Adolf Hitler. Those who compare themselves to Churchill, Gandhi or Lenin have their eye on going down in history as some parallel figure. Some are known for their own magnificent achievements -- others for their antagonistic role towards the renowned.

There’s the old story about the Duke of Wellington getting out of bed at 3 in the morning to get dressed and marshal his troops at Quatre Bras to fight Bony. He asks his mistress to haul herself out of bed and leave him to it. He tells her he has to prepare to give Bonaparte a bloody nose.

As she leaves, she says: “Yes, you will be remembered as the man who defeated Bonaparte. Napoleon will be remembered for himself!” Ouch!
BoJo has used the Russian invasion of Ukraine to cast a shadow over what he labelled as his petty misdemeanours of partying while he forced the nation to isolate. He was fined for what has come to be known as “Partygate”, apologised profusely in Parliament several times and at the same time brushed it aside as he boasted of his Churchillian efforts towards bringing the West together to defeat Vladimir Putin.

On May 5, BoJo and his Tories faced further humiliation when the local elections in several boroughs of Britain expelled the Tories and endorsed Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors and mayors. The voters may have dismissed or abandoned the Tories because of “Partygate”, but more likely because of nine per cent inflation and steeply rising prices of everything, coupled with Hedgie Sunak’s increase of taxation on the working majority.

BoJo used the same “Churchillian” feint to distract from this defeat by visiting Sweden and Finland to discuss these countries abandoning their East-West neutrality and starting a process which would lead to them joining Nato. BoJo characteristically hopes that history will see him as the leading catalyst and mobiliser against Russia’s fascistic tyranny. But will history comply? Sub specie aeternitatis, Partygate may be regarded as trivial and forgotten. A defeat in mid-term local elections is par for the course in British politics. The progress and consequences of the Russso-Ukrainian war are yet to be determined and its highly likely that BoJo’s role in it will be just as significant as the role of the Prime Minister of, say, Bolivia in World War II. There are rivals for the Churchillian role – Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and others.

In my humble estimation, gentle reader, BoJo may only go down in history as the man under whose governance the United Kingdom fragmented, with Scotland declaring independence and Northern Ireland breaking away from the UK and uniting with the country to which it is naturally joined at the hip and with whose body politic it shares several organs.

What are the current indications on which this pseudo-prediction (of course I can’t be certain that any of this will come to pass!) is based? First of all, in the recent mid-term elections, the Scottish National Party came top again. It is doggedly for independence and its chief minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted -- nay, even declared -- that she will hold a defiant referendum asking the Scottish people if they want to break with the UK and consequently apply to rejoin the European Union. Nicola has been emboldened by the local elections in which the Tories, who were recently the second party in Scotland, were relegated by Labour to third place.

Northern Ireland is the trickiest. For the first time in its history, it voted, in what amounted to a regional general election, to elect the leader of Sinn Fein, a female, to be its First Minister. This doesn’t give her the power or the mandate to immediately declare a united Ireland, but it does mean trouble for the Protestant parties, notably the Democratic Unionist Party -- which will now have to assume the position of deputy in the Stormont Parliament -- and of course for BoJo.

It was he who has alienated the Northern Ireland Protestant parties and community by signing a deal in order to “get Brexit done” which entails Northern Ireland being treated, on the issue of transport of goods from England, Scotland and Wales to it, as virtually a part of the European Union. I’ll spare you the details of this agreement, which is known as the “Protocol”, as it is very boring.

Let me just say that it leaves BoJo stuck between a solid rock and a very pokey place. In order to win back the Northern Ireland Prod loyalty, he now threatens the EU to unilaterally scrap the “Protocol” and get rid of the “border in the North Sea”, which the Prods say he has constructed through the Protocol. He and his cohorts in Uncle Tom’s Cabinet, including now the Goan-descended attorney-general, one Suella Braverman, threaten to pass a law withdrawing the Protocol and the necessity for goods to be examined, certified and taxed before entering Northern Ireland from Britain.

The EU will undoubtedly respond severely and punitively for the British population. And the Sinn Fein majority in the Ulster Parliament will make Republican trouble. So, gentle reader, watch this space. My crystal ball becomes clearer as I argue…!

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