The unstoppable Rise and Fall of “Tony” or “Pony” Johnson

Will the Dutch Mark Rutte stay on being the only European Prime Minister who, sitting alongside President Trump during an official White House visit, dared to loudly and unambiguously contradict The Infallible Donald, and on US-EU trade relations no less? The Women’s Football World Championship showed that resisting (longer than others) an American onslaught is a Dutch speciality, but we would like some allies.

The British political reactions to the affair of the ambassadors leaked email comments about the Trump White House showed outsider Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt standing up for the ambassador sending his candid “long telegrams” just as George Kennan did in 1946, while Boris Johnson continued appeasing Trumps tender ego, the ITV debate being the clearest demonstration (see the Guardian and the BBC). Boris even almost-supported Trump disqualifying a British prime minister. Hopefully the discrete Mr. Johnson will do the same when he is PM; Trump spares no ally whatsoever when doing his early morning twitter fusillades.

If that doesn’t remind the British electorate of Tony Blair playing the “Iraq poodle” to president Bush junior (with foreign minister John Bolton pushing the WMD myth), the fact that Boris & Raab like Charles I and Buckingham still see proroguing Parliament as a normal way to push through European policies, should reinforce that analogy. In his Guardian interview about creating an “Boothroyd parallel parliament”, Rory “Realist Tory” Stewart reminds us that when Blair wanted to evade a vote on starting the disastrous Iraq War by prorogation, MP’s threatened to reconvene in Church House to demonstrate their opinion that a “War Powers vote” (my term) was obligatory.

The only difference between the Blair-Bush and Johnson-Trump relationship is that Boris, in his liberal mayorial affectation in 2015/6, was more forceful in disqualifying presidential candidate Trump, than Blair ever was about Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Boris will absolutely hate being identified as a second Blair (wanting to put the UK “at the heart of Europe”, after defending the 1983 eurosceptic Labour platform); all the more reason to start calling him “Tony Johnson”.

And to emphasize that Boris with his incredible October 31st obsession turns his premiership into that of a “One Trick Pony”, why not go further and call him “Pony Johnson”?

When James Callaghan at Labour Party conference in 1978 announced there would be no election that year, his government majority was already so small that it started suffering defeats on procedural points; when the TUC shop stewards unleashed the disruptive “Winter of Discontent” on the UK, that marginal majority evaporated, Labour depending on silent SNP support (see the book by Sked & Cook, “Postwar Britain”, Penguin, 1993, p. 321).

But the SNP fell away after the Scottish devolution referendum (March 1, 1979) failed the 40% participation threshold; TUC misbehaviour reinforced Thatcher’s opposition. TUC ally Callaghan went down to shattering defeat.

I see a direct parallel with what very well could happen to a Johnson government, with the DUP-supplied majority, if Stormont doesn’t start functioning in October, and No Deal Brexit from November 1st onwards sees an escalating disruption of the British society and economy.

* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.

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13 Comments

  • Is Boris on record as saying he wants to prorogue Parliament? If not this fuss over proroguing seems a little premature.

    Personally I have no problem with proroguing Parliament if that achieves a clean break with the EU in October.

    It’s noteworthy that former Prime Minister John Major seems to want a judicial review. He didn’t have any qualms about proroguing Parliament in 1997 to delay publication of the cash for questions report into his sleazy Government.

  • Bernard Aris 11th Jul '19 - 11:33am

    Footnotes:
    Wikipedia items:
    1) George Kennan & Long telegram: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_F._Kennan
    2) Charles I (as crown prince and king) and Buckingham and “European Policies”: seeking marriage with the Spanish I fanta; getting married with a catholic French princess, disastrous expedition against Spain (1624-’27) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_I_of_England ; paragraphs “heir apparent” and Early reign”;
    3) John Bolton pushing the Iraq WMD myth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Bolton

  • William Fowler 11th Jul '19 - 12:13pm

    Getting rid of parliament for a few weeks would wreck democracy and finish off the Conservative Party (approx half of hardcore brexiteers probably don’t agree with Conservative policies that are necessary for a no deal Brexit so will vote elsewhere in a subsequent GE)… the LibDems running on immediately rejoining the EU would then probably be the winners, along with extreme electoral reform to restore democracy to the country. Sterling would be wrecked by the whole process so we would have to fast-track into the Euro, perhaps with three separate countries (England, Wales, Scotland) and an integrated Ireland.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Jul '19 - 3:25pm

    John Peters: Your claim that John Major “prorogued Parliament” comes from Guido Fawkes, hardly an authoritative source on anything, The truth is more humdrum, and is
    that Major called a general election about 3 weeks earlier than he strictly needed to, and had been been accused of delaying the election as long as possible in the hope of a pickup in Tory fortunes (hardly unusual before FTPA). He can’t have been doing both.

  • “I’m a raving Euro-federalist … a pro-European of the most violent, dyspeptic, and incurable disposition.”

    The author? A certain Boris Johnson writing in his 1999 book Life in the Fast Lane, as quoted by Private Eye #1499 of 28th June 2019.

  • William Fowler 11th Jul '19 - 4:52pm

    Gordon, yes but being PM is more important… but it does give hope that Boris will push his party towards a final referendum rather than being wiped out by a GE if he can’t get Brexit done.

  • Bless a brave Brexiteer wishing to progogue the democratic system so he can get his own personal Brexit. O well he won’t be able to play the sovereignty card without coming across as a hypocrtic; doubt it will stop him trying. Truely the Brexiteers are the Violet Elizabeth Botts of our society, they will scweam and scweam until they are sick. They are also clueless leaving without a deal isn’t the end of the race, it is just the start of the next humiliation; but that I am afraid is too challenging for them, they can’t see past achieving Brexit, cluelessly unaware it is just a staging post not a destination.

  • I wonder if our avid follower of Gudio knows where he lives, bit of a clue it isn’t in the UK, he’s based in the EU; no skin in this game has our Gudio but it is very profitable for him firing up the angry and deluded.

  • nigel hunter 11th Jul '19 - 8:03pm

    If Guido Fawkes does NOT live in the UK where he lives should be plastered over the internet to show his deviousness.There are enough ‘fake newsers’ who live abroad.It reminds me of right wing news lords who peddle there papersbut cannot be bothered to pay UK taxes.

  • Some details of our Irish based Guidio

    In 2006, Staines along with Jag Singh co-founded MessageSpace, a digital advertising agency which operates an advertising network representing dozens of leading political websites. In 2012 it advised the successful Boris Johnson London mayoral campaign. Private Eye reported in June 2012 that MessageSpace was advising the Russian Embassy in London on using social media.[68]

    St Kitts and Nevis-based Global & General Nominees Limited (GGN) publishes the Guido Fawkes Blog. Staines describes himself as an “adviser” to GGN.[69] He is a director of Global & General Nominees (Hong Kong) Limited.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Staines

    Companies house describe Mr Staines nationality as Irish, Residence as Ireland. A fine hero for our brave Brexiteers, being led by an Irish resident safe in the bussum of the EU. Bless you couldn’t make it up.

  • Richard O'Neill 11th Jul '19 - 10:14pm

    I think Dominic Raab and Ester McVey really believed in a hard brexit, and those members of the Tory party who wanted it would have been better endorsing them.

    Boris is just focused on getting to Number 10. He is an entertainer rather than a politician. Very like Trump (another liberal media personality who has tacked to the right) I’m not convinced he actually believes in things other than his own self interest as he perceives it in that particular moment.

    I’m not even convinced this is an election for PM. Tories lack a majority, Boris has made himself objectionable to so many MPs it is unlikely he can command a majority in the house. For all he seems scared if it, an autumn election seems likely.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Jul ’19 – 3:25pm.
    He can’t have been doing both.

    John Major prorogued parliament from Friday 21st. March 1997 to Tuesday 15th. April 1997…

    House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 1997:
    https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199697/cmhansrd/vo970318/debtext/70318-04.htm

    [b]Mr. [Simon] Hughes [MP][/b]: The Prime Minister yesterday made the uniquely personal decision not only to have a general election on 1 May and to dissolve Parliament on 8 April but that Parliament should be prorogued and sent away this Friday [21 March]. Is it not obvious that one of the reasons for that decision and for the unprecedented gap between prorogation and dissolution is that the Prime Minister knows that the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on cash for questions will be ready on Monday or Tuesday. That report will therefore not be seen by hon. Members in this Parliament and will be hidden until after the general election.

    [b]The Prime Minister[/b]: One of the reasons for making the announcement on Monday and arranging for Parliament to be prorogued on Friday was to give the hon. Gentleman time to finish his question.

    Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech (Hansard, 21 March 1997):
    https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1997/mar/21/her-majestys-most-gracious-speech

    “My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty’s Commission which has been now read, we do, in Her Majesty’s name and in obedience to Her Majesty’s commands, prorogue this Parliament to Tuesday the fifteenth day of this instant April to be then here holden and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to the fifteenth day of this instant April.”

  • You mean he is as slippery as arch Europhile Tony Blair. This is the thing about parts of the remain camp, lot’s of people casting the mote from others eyes and little capacity for irony.

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