Will Boris Johnson see out a full term?
From the excellent Political Betting website comes some interesting commentary on the likelihood of Boris Johnson surviving a full five-year term. Given that (arguably Thatcher) John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May fell as a direct result of internal squabbling within the Tory party over Britain’s relationship with the EU – it seems likely that Boris Johnson will see his premiership end the same way. Right now, it does seem a little premature to be speculating Johnson’s demise with a majority of 80 but there is more going on than just Johnson’s longevity.
The commentary from PB starts as follows – “The last four Conservative Prime Ministers have seen their Premierships either ended or destroyed because of the United Kingdom’s relationship with our European neighbours and you can see it happening again. As David Herdson noted yesterday Brexit isn’t going away and it is likely to be the biggest domestic issue of 2020.”
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“As far as I can see Betfair are the only bookies offering a market on Boris Johnson’s exit so I’m tempted to take a nibble on the 14s on 2021 being Boris Johnson year of departure, but this is currently a very illiquid market, hopefully we’ll see more bookies offering odds on this market.”
So the betting has started. But this type of betting reveals something the mainstream media are not reporting. That Boris Johnson will not do as he has stated in his election manifesto and that the current political trajectory of this government is really quite different to that of public perception.
As PB says – “As we can see in the tweet above even Boris Johnson’s own advisers are expecting Boris Johnson to disappoint Leavers, the evidence is strong for that supposition.”
Would this feed into and explain the very recent and rather unexpected change to British foreign policy towards America?
For instance – the Iran nuclear weapons treaty has come under increasing strain following the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Britain struggled to find the right message at first but after a few days the UK, along with Germany and France — who helped broker the 2015 nuclear weapons accord — urged Iran not to walk away. This is a sign that Britain agrees with EU foreign policy.
The Times has also just reported that “Britain must prepare to fight wars without America.” Ben Wallace, the defence secretary warned, amid concerns that President Donald Trump will pursue an ever more isolationist foreign policy. Wallace said the “government needed to rethink military assumptions, in place since 2010, that the UK would always be fighting alongside the Americans — and should use the upcoming defence review to buy new kit to ensure that the armed forces do not have to rely on US air cover and spy planes in future conflicts.”
This is a major turnaround for UK foreign policy.
“If Europeans won’t take American soybeans, they don’t get American soldiers. America First!” This was a pitiful and petulant tweet from Donald Trump. The result was that the EU, under constant political pressure from America to reduce standards to get a trade deal done have also been reminded that America can no longer be trusted when it comes to defence. By November last year, Macron and Merkel agreed that Europe could no longer rely on the US to defend them. They cited the example of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 1987 nuclear treaty with Russia, banning medium-range ground-launched missiles.” It now appears that the EU is beginning to build a defence architecture, including its own army. Britain has already stated that it won’t be a part of it – but has agreed that the nuclear capabilities of France and Britain should be aligned.
In another example of Britain breaking away from America – just yesterday, the head of MI5 said he is confident that US intelligence sharing with the UK will not be jeopardised if Britain uses Huawei technology in future 5G mobile phone networks. The US has just sent a last-ditch mission to dissuade the UK after multiple threats were issued. The US has always said that intelligence sharing will come to an abrupt end if the UK uses Huawei technology. Does this mean that the UK no longer values American intelligence as it once did? A decision is due very soon.
The extradition of Harry Dunn is a small example but still, it does demonstrate another fissure in the US-UK relationship that is no longer referred to as ‘special.’ The US has said an extradition request for the woman charged with the death of teenager Harry Dunn is “highly inappropriate”. But an extradition notice to the US Justice Department for Anne Sacoolas over the accident which killed the 19-year-old was sent anyway.
All of these examples are small hints of the British pivot. This is important. Brexit is the biggest opportunity for any British government to make the right decision for future generations. It’s either facing Europe or facing America. It can’t be both and it can’t be neither. But don’t forget, many of the hard-liners in the Tory party want that pivot to head towards America – and this decision alone could cause a new rift, that as we have seen – could end badly.
The hints are, that for all of Boris Johnson’s rhetoric and threats, Britain will align with Europe, pivot away from America but trade with both.
The threat is if Boris Johnson takes Brexit in a direction that the extremist Brexiteers within the ERG camp aren’t happy with then they might seek to oust him as they have so successfully done so far.
The other threat in political betting circles is that as PB says – “Boris Johnson seems to be a scandal magnet because of his love life. Those who know him well offered him the advice to ‘lock up your willy’ when he was contemplating running for London Mayor. It isn’t difficult to envisage a scenario when the Prime Minister’s willy might lead to a career-ending incident.”
We shouldn’t forget that there are many other potentially career-ending scandals within sight. The Arcuri investigation unearthed another woman involved with the Prime Minister and the Russian interference document has yet to be released. Both have serious implications.
It’s sad to say this – but for Britain, the future prosperity of our nation depends on somewhere between sensible, diplomatically calculated foreign policy decisions and Boris Johnson’s overly enthusiastic appendage!