Boris Johnson: a man few thought would ever lead his party, a unique man, a different sort of politician, a slice of originality in the age of the bland. He is a man beloved by the members of his party but one who has bitterly divided the members of parliament on his own side. He has made some extraordinary pledges that have inspired many and in spite of all that the mainstream liberal press hate him. Just to recap, this paragraph is about the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson even though all of the above also applies to Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the Labour opposition.
The rise and fall(?) of Jeremy Corbyn has almost everything to do with Brexit. Although the media and elements of the Westminster bubble have been fixated on the Corbyn’s foreign policy and the accompanying scandals surrounding his foreign policy record, in reality it was Brexit that has boxed Corbyn into a corner. Like most people on the traditional left of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong opponent of the European Union. Likewise, most of Labour’s core working class constituencies in England and Wales voted heavily in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum. However, the parliamentary Labour party is heavily in favour of remaining in the European Union as is Corbyn’s own constituency in north London (arguably the EU capital of Britain).
As such, Corbyn has been pushed and pulled by these two rival forces and ultimately he gave in to those on the benches behind him. In recent weeks, Corbyn authorised as official Labour policy, a campaign for a disingenuous second referendum in which Labour would back remaining in the European Union – thus nullifying the democratic vote of 2016 that has yet to be implemented.
It is this more than anything else that will harm Labour during a possibly forthcoming general election. The fact of the matter is that outside of London and a few parts of southern England, to live in a Labour constituency is also to live in a pro-Brexit constituency. Thus, whilst one could argue that the media pressure and hatred of his own parliamentary party simply rattled him, it is Brexit that could well be Corbyn’s penultimate undoing among the voting public.
In the case of Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister has held fast to his pro-Brexit views even though a large part of his parliamentary party are deadest against Brexit – especially the WTO Brexit that Johnson has put squarely on the table. Therefore it will take a great deal of tenacity on Johnson’s part to resist the still powerful forces of his party that will certainly try to sabotage Brexit at every turn.
There is of course another danger – in fact it is this danger that is the greatest danger of all. Due to the unique qualities of Jeremy Corbyn, his early years as leader of the opposition witnessed the growth of a personality cult who worshipped Corbyn as a kind of political god. For such people, anything Corbyn did had a divine reason – no matter how stupid it objectively looked. These cultist Corbynite attack dogs would verbally assault anyone and everyone who questioned Corbyn. Some of these cultists are still attempting to claim that Corbyn’s supreme Brexit betrayal is somehow a game of “5D chess” rather than the cowardly capitulation that it is.
Unlike the totally uninspiring Theresa May, the charismatic and optimistic Johnson is already inspiring the growth of an online and real life Corbyn style personality cult. The same Brexit supporters who would quite rightly criticise Theresa May if she sighed with delight upon walking passed an EU flag are now putting such faith in Boris Johnson that it is beginning to look frighteningly like blind faith. Far from being novel, the same blind faith that Jeremy Corbyn’s supports put in him has lead the Labour leader to make some very foolish decisions. It can scarcely be denied that being blanketed by his loyal personality cult may well have blinded Corbyn to the wider unpopularity of such decisions throughout the country.
Thus, it would be bad for Brexit if Boris Johnson’s supporters start to believe that he walks on water, can do no wrong and that a would-be delay in Brexit is “5D chess” even though these same people would clearly and correctly not forgive such a more by Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn has been let down by the fact that his personality cult refuses to offer him even constructive criticism. If the same fate befalls Boris Johnson, Brexit will yet again be betrayed by yet another major politician.
The main difference between Johnson and Corbyn’s strategy is that Johnson has surrounded himself with a cabinet of pro-Brexit putative allies. By contrast, Corbyn’s shadow cabinet are as much out to get him as are his backbenchers. Be that as it may, Corbyn ultimately suffered because his personality cult was afraid to tell him when he was going wrong. If the same happens to Boris Johnson Brexit might be doomed by for Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.