Johnson takes helm of a stricken ship – sink it now
Boris Johnson was elected Tory leader on Tuesday, and immediately faced multiple crises.
The moment of personal triumph he has lusted for so strongly may be the forerunner to his deepest defeat.
Johnson beat his rival Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656 votes in a ballot of Tory members.
His election was welcomed by US president Donald Trump, who called Johnson “Britain Trump”.
In his typical blustering style Johnson said, “We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do.
“We are once again going to believe in ourselves, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity.”
But his arrogant confidence can’t solve a series of problems that could shatter him. There are immediate tests over Brexit, the economy and Iran.
And he presides over a Tory party that has rarely had less unity and discipline.
If, as expected, the Liberal Democrats win the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election next week, the government’s working majority will be reduced to just three.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that up to six Tory MPs are considering defecting to the Liberal Democrats if Johnson becomes prime minister.
Emphasising the Tory divisions, foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan resigned on Monday, the first of many anticipated departures.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Sunday that “I’m not going to be sacked, because I’m going to resign before we get to that point”. He, and others, said he would quit minutes after Theresa May’s final prime minister’s question time on Wednesday.
Hammond has been the chief enforcer of brutal austerity for the last three years. But he suggested last week that he is prepared to vote to bring down the government should Johnson push for a no-deal Brexit.
And top bosses will also do their best to break moves towards a no-deal Brexit that they believe could harm their profits. A slow-motion “run on the pound” is already taking place.
The value of the pound has fallen sharply since the 2016 referendum and the slide accelerated as no-deal looked more possible.
It’s time for resistance, not despair. We should fight on every front—against austerity, racism and inaction over climate change.
A protest called by the People’s Assembly took place on Monday against the new Tory leader. Around 200 people heard speakers including Labour MPs, columnist Owen Jones and Weyman Bennett from Stand Up To Racism denounce the Tory policies that have wrecked lives—and will continue under Johnson.
Another protest was planned for Wednesday and then a rally for a general election called by the Labour Party for Thursday.
It is welcome that, at last, Labour has called for mobilisation on the streets. It should have happened much earlier as May’s rule spiralled downwards.
Much more will be needed to make the most of the Tories’ weakness.