UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Africa


Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London an avid advocate of Brexit has been elected the new leader of Conservative Party (a.k.a Tory Party) in a ballot of party members and became the new Prime Minister of United Kingdom. Speaking at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, he said: “We are going to energise the country. We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do. We are once again going to believe in ourselves, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity.”
On Page 26 of his biography of Winston Churchill, the then Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, writes of a “Gestapo-controlled Nazi EU.” This kind of hyperbole about Europe has been a Johnson stock-in-trade since his time as a legendary untruth-telling correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Brussels three decades ago.
James Landale, now the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, a young reporter in Brussels at the time wrote this ditty as “Boris tells such dreadful lies. It makes you gasp and stretch your eyes”. True to form, Boris Johnson accuses the European Union founding fathers of having a teleological vision of Europe which is an end game in which all Europe’s nation states folded into one political union.
Unlike Boris Johnson’s accusations, the founding fathers of European Union had political ambition to bring Europe together to prevent another war or, for that matter, the return of the Gestapo. Their method was to break down economic barriers. The EU’s French spiritus rector, Jean Monnet, after all had been a trader and a salesman, which coincidentally is why de Gaulle disliked him. For the French president, Monnet’s idea of Europe was one about the economic bottom line, not about more gloire to France.
To be sure, European cooperation was a political project and involved, and involves, sharing some sovereignty. Churchill told the House of Commons after 1945 that “national sovereignty maybe resolutely diminished.” Accordingly, Churchill was instrumental in setting up the non-EU European Court of Human Rights. As it happens, that body interferes far more in British ministers’ and judicial decisions than the European Court of Justice, which is an EU institution.
In 1950, Europe was about ending the economic nationalism around the machinery of war. That was why control over steel and coal was removed from national governments and handed over to a common authority, complete with a court, a parliamentary assembly and a rule that prevented discrimination in hiring on the grounds of nationality which is the origins of today’s freedom of movement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson now rules the world’s fifth-largest economy. In his first speech to Parliament as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told his fellow lawmakers that his biggest mission would be to deliver Brexit for the purpose of uniting and re-energizing the UK and, in a highly transparent case of copycatting President Donald Trump of the United States, supposedly making the country the greatest place on earth.
Sechaba Nkosi, a noted South African correspondent, stated that despite his pronouncements, it is clear that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, very much like President Trump, is a divider, not a uniter. Sechaba Nkosi strongly argued that from an African perspective, it was interesting to observe that Prime Minister Boris Johnson displayed a colonial master’s hauteur via-a-vis the European Union. According to Sechaba Nkosi he set out to show the EU who the new sheriff in town is and threatened that, if the bloc refused to let him have his way, he would leave without a deal come October 31.
Holger Schmieding, Chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, stated that the developing world should even be more scared. As with his role model in the White House, protectionism is likely to be the new hallmark of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade regime. If his short stint as UK Foreign Minister is anything to go by, there will be very scant regard for existing relations with other countries. Sechaba Nkosi noted that the Commonwealth, a group of former British colonies, hardly features in his policies. All they are bound to get is the same alluring, but false rhetoric about great trade deals that President Donald Trump has been issuing.
Denis MacShane, the former UK’s Minister for Europe and is the author of “Brexit No Exit: Why Britain Won’t Leave Europe” asserted that all the ideals that have governed the Commonwealth group of nations since its formation, the promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and free trade, will be things that Prime Minister Johnson will ultimately hardly bother himself about. He will likely become a nightmare to all those who ever thought that an august body such as the Commonwealth deserves someone to uphold some elements of human decency as its face.
Given that, in his own words, his biggest priority will be to make Britons wealthier, healthier and more secure, he will not give constructive direction to hundreds of deals that his predecessors left unfinished. It comes as a leaked Whitehall document laid bare widespread fears of consumer panic, rising crime and economic chaos in the aftermath a no-deal Brexit. Given the feebleness of the UK economy, Prime Minister Johnson will need trade partners who will simply roll over when he presents the UK’s demands. The only form of global justice is that very few nations on earth will be tempted by those “deals.”
Dealing the issue of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Africa, Sechaba Nkosi further argued that Prime Minister Johnson will be to the world what Herman Mashaba is to South Africa, passionately asserting his determination to make Johannesburg better, but making no attempt to hide his dislike for immigrants. To Prime Minister Johnson, Africa is a continent that can benefit from adopting more British values. Given his lack of intellectual openness and refinement, he simply wants the continent to be a carbon copy of its former colonial masters.
It seemed quite unthinkable in the past for Britain and the United States, the erstwhile key drivers of globalization over the past two-and-a-half centuries, to be at the front of such an onslaught against international openness and progress.But Prime Minister Boris Johnson, like President Donald Trump, has shown us that it is not impossible for Eton’s and Oxford’s finest to try and reverse all the gains that have been made in more than 70 years.