Boris Johnson got the job he wanted, and went to parliament to receive his expected baptism of fire in a rowdy session of the House on Thursday.
One day after he assumed the premiership, Johnson went to make his maiden speech, and came under a barrage of boos and heckles.
Basically, he wanted to lay out his plan for a Brexit that he has promised will take place, come hell or high water, even if it is a no-deal divorce. He was interrupted so many times during his speech as he raised his voice and emphasised his words with overly energetic punches and stabs in the air, employing his oratory to sometimes ridiculous effect.
The Speaker, John Bercrow, like an irate welfare officer talking to riotous ragamuffins, had to call the MPs to order frequently, even referring to one member’s behaviour as “reckless delinquency.” The Speaker had to come in again to quiet the members as Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbin took the floor in reply.
It is clear that the vexatious issues surrounding the intent of some politicians to leave Europe at whatever cost have fuelled passions and engendered serious rifts within the British political classes, even prompting one Scottish nationalist member during Thursday’s debate to salute Johnson as the “last prime minister of the United Kingdom.”
Johnson may have bitten off more than he can chew, and the delivery of Brexit may prove elusive. His efforts will certainly suffer from his much-talked-about lack of grasp of the nitty-gritty of whatever he handles, substituting flair for substance and bluster for analysis.
He could soon find himself fighting for his political survival in an early election that he does not want, but which some people are calling for. In the end he could be just a summer prime minister.
What will almost certainly dog him is the “UK-Trump” label that has been attached to him. Donald Trump had voiced his preference for him long before the battle for succession, and Johnson has returned the favour amply. The two are instinctively wreckers, disrupters and spoilers, narcissists seriously be guilty of an inflated sense of their smartness.
And the two are liars like very few liars in the public domain can equal. Of course, we know of Trump and the lie-o-meter that someone is keeping in Washington.
Of Johnson, we know that on Wednesday, after he was elected chief of the Tories, a video was projected on the wall of Buckingham Palace saying, “Your Majesty, your new prime minister is a liar!”
He worked as a journalist for a time and was based in Brussels, where he was known to completely ignore facts and create his own, just like the “alternative facts” of Trump’s.
Lord Patten once said of him: “Boris Johnson is one of the greatest exponents of fake journalism.” He is so shameless in what he writes or says. He just does not care about facts.
One colleague once remarked that Johnson was fake news long before the term became familiar. He would just invent stories, make up non-existent quotes. For his transgressions, he was fired at least once and made to apologise many times.
That makes him a perfect partner for Trump, and with the much vaunted “special relationship” of the UK and the US, we can expect lies to fly across the Atlantic and the entire world as the two men, so full of themselves and air, go about trying to reorder the world according to their bigoted views.
It is an extraordinary voyage that Johnson has travelled. He has Turkish roots, which may make one think he would be pro-integration and easy on migration. But no, he has such Trump-like views that will most likely make him the most reviled world leader after his friend in the Oval Office.
He will most likely back Trump on the trashing of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Accord on Climate Change. We should expect him to make conditions for immigration tougher to keep “criminals” out.
Of course, he will continue the massive sale of arms to Saudi Arabia despite the hellish war it is engaged in in Yemen, and despite the murder of Jamal Kashoggi, over whom the UK shed so many crocodile tears, and such other actions that “Trumpism” favours.
In short, we now have two Trumps, one on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the other in No. 10, Downing Street. Fasten your seat belts.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]