The new leader of Britain’s Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) was confirmed this past week. Effective 24 July 2019, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, commonly referred to as Boris, is now the UK’s head of government and elected leader. Over the past few years, people compared Boris to American President Donald Trump. True, both have unconventional hair-styles and have said questionable things in front of cameras, but their commonalities end with the frivolous. Boris Johnson is an intelligent leader that has a vision and knows how to rally the masses to win multiple campaigns – even when there are potentially divisive and controversial issues at hand, like BREXIT.
Following David Cameron’s departure, Theresa May’s lacklustre leadership took the Conservative Party from a dominating position (e.g. victorious across the UK’s local elections) to barely being able to muster a coalition government in Westminster. Labour, under Eurosceptic and closet-BREXITeer Jeremy Corbyn, went from nowhere to almost pulling off an upset in the 2017 general elections. May’s unappealing leadership came at a great cost to the Conservatives and the UK. For example, May’s mismanagement of the BREXIT negotiations resulted in unnecessary market volatility and the regular loss of value for the Sterling. The UK’s EU departure date was also postponed twice, because May’s BREXIT deal was consistently rejected by parliament as it did not meet anybody’s expectations.
In contrast to May, while at times being portrayed rather quirky in the media, Boris is charismatic and knows how to win (e.g. BREXIT). Within four days of becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s Conservative’s took a 10-percentage point lead over Labour and advised the EU that if the Ireland back-stop is not removed, the UK will leave the EU with a no-deal, hard BREXIT on 31 October 2019. There is definitely a change in the UK’s political landscape.
Notwithstanding the energy surge provided by Prime Minister Johnson’s accession to power, Westminster is divided and there is a strong likelihood that the UK will have to go to the polls before long. In contrast to some contributors that don’t want to take positions as this puts them at risk (writing articles based solely on hind-sight is rather simple and does not test one’s ability to analyze or hypothesize), I’d like to make some predictions that will be subject to the unforgiving scrutiny of time.
Firstly, unlike the 2017 general elections which were effectively silent on BREXIT, the Conservatives under Boris’s leadership will run a successful campaign based on BREXIT and win. The Conservatives will consolidate their position as BREXIT champions and distinguish themselves from populists by running a campaign focusing on sovereignty, strength through diversity and inclusion, and the need to form an independent strategy that maximizes the benefits for Britain without restrictions from foreign capitals; not a campaign that entails fear (e.g. anti-immigration) and ignorance. Boris has already said he will scrap May’s ill-devised immigration plan which limited new arrivals. Immigration is an asset to any country with a vision.
Without question, the UK will continue to have close relations with the EU. This is a given and the UK will eventually have some form of customs union or free trade agreement with the EU, like Canada and other non-EU European nations. But like any sensible power, the UK does not want to forfeit its sovereign authority to competitors or an international institution that may prioritise the interests of others.
The Conservatives’ campaign will also include strategies to strengthen the UK’s already resilient economy, foster growth, and create greater competitiveness through market and tax reforms. Unlike the US, the Conservatives should provide middle class families with genuine tax relief and look for opportunities to more fairly distribute revenue generation without hurting innovation and investments.
As the UK is the EU’s second largest economy, Brussels cannot afford a hard-BREXIT that causes greater cross-EU volatility as key EU economies are already in recession, others (e.g. Italy) are openly defying Brussels, and some members (e.g. Greece and Spain) are still dealing with their hangovers from the most recent financial crisis. The EU cannot return to economic chaos or bail-out programs; hence, an amicable BREXIT will be reached, following a strong Conservative showing at the next general elections.
Unlike the re-energized Conservatives, Labour will suffer material losses at the ballot box, because it is divided and unable to put together a coherent position. A number of core Labour leaders, including Corbyn, and Labour dominated ridings support leaving the EU, yet the Labour Party is challenged with articulating a position that is clear on BREXIT and can be easily understood. As there is material support for BREXIT amongst Labour supporters, these votes will likely swing to Conservative candidates; Remain Labour supporters will likely be drawn to the Liberals. Labour also has a poor record for developing effective economic policies that stimulate growth, innovation, and investment. In a period of systemic volatility and potential global recession, an inability to form an effective economic platform will further hurt Labour’s performance. This, combined with fence sitting on BREXIT, will bring an end to Corbyn’s leadership and defeat to Labour in the forthcoming elections.
On an aside, it is quite silly that some Turks celebrated Boris’s move to 10 Downing Street, because his great grandfather was an Ottoman Turk. Ethnicity is a social construct and it is clear that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a New York born Englishman and British citizen – there really isn’t very much Turkish about him.