It must be a sign that my modem crashed just as the election of Boris Johnson as prime minister was being announced. In one fell swoop I was deprived of broadband, television and telephone. It was not a very funny joke for my work but I eventually managed to divert incoming calls to my mobile phone. Being cut off from outside events for a few hours did me the world of good, although my 14-year-old resembled a drug addict in a rehabilitation clinic.
My temporary disconnection made me realize how addicted we all are to the internet and live news. Switching off the modem diverted my attention to other things, not least of which was running after my provider to get the damned thing working again.
I suppose that the election of Boris Johnson also involves diversions. We will have to divert from what was meant to be done and settle for what will be done by a leader who is just as helpless as his predecessor was and infinitely less polite. Boris Johnson believes that being capable of returning from the moon with minimal technology is a sure sign that the Northern Ireland border issue can be solved with a PS4 game,
If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade deal at the Northern Irish border.
What does seem to be true, is that becoming leader of the Conservative party is so much easier than a return journey to the moon. Is Boris their only shot at trying to get a decent player onto the field of politics? I’m not even annoyed that he has become prime minister, I’m just bemused that Boris is the best that the UK can come up with. Only time will tell how he fares as prime minister, if his opponents give him time, that is.
What is worrying though, is that having boasted so much about his innate ability to deliver Brexit, Boris Johnson is now obliged to honour his words. If he fails to do so, he might as well practice his golf and be ready to join the likes of David Cameron on the third tee at St Andrews.
How is it that we have run out of credible characters to run our countries? In the good old days there were prominent politicians who may have talked nonsense and not changed much, but at least it was philosophical nonsense and they were literate about the whole thing.
Having cleared the basement kitchen at number 10 from its incumbent rats, the new prime minister has the State dining room at his disposal to finalize his ideas on Brexit and stir troops for battle against the infidels from over the Channel. It is a grandiloquent, almost pompous room, dominated by a portrait of King George II who reigned over the British Empire at its apogee. The monarch’s presence ensures that the golden scent of unrivaled imperialism remains intact and inebriates all who dare enter the room. It is also dead proof that the sun has never set on an empire that, for some at least, has never ceased to exist.
Boris Johnson will no doubt meditate on how to create a virtual border for the Irish, impinge on freedom of movement, and loosen acquired workers’ rights – all with the vision of producing a country whose society will be based on a Darwinian mode of survival, an updated version John Rawls’ utilitarian philosophy and a welfare state run by Amazon.
It is a dangerous direction in which to be heading but one that the UK will be taking due to a chronic shortage of credible alternatives and an absence of strong political and social opponents. This lack of opposition and abundance of polite passiveness will probably allow Johnson’s vision of a post-Brexit UK bathing in deregulated waters and basking in American sunshine to become reality. The French would have got their spare car tyres burning in the streets a long time ago – not that it helps, of course, but at least it’s a try.
The new prime minister’s most dangerous enemy is himself. In promising the impossible he has put himself in a corner from which he cannot escape. Whereas we all know what it means to be a member of the EU, the post-Brexit world that is looming will be a complete unknown entity. It will need a lot more than self-confidence, loose promises and amusing analogies to convince me that Brexit is desirable and will work. The EU may be a haven in need of renovation but at least it is a haven.