This was first posted on Facebook on 13th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
On a Saturday where 43 Republican Senators decided that it didn’t matter how much Donald Trump was obviously guilty of inciting armed insurrectionists to storm the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of power for which the US used to be famous, it may seem inappropriately banal to talk about Boris Johnson’s tunnel vision.
On Saturday the 13th, Boris Johnson leaked to the Telegraph that he seriously plans a tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
This was first posted on Facebook on 3rd February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The most complicating factor in figuring out what might happen in Northern Ireland over the next few weeks or months, is that Boris Johnson is a chronic liar, and yet neither mainstream media nor his ministers nor his MPs seem able to say so.
We can note what Boris Johnson says. But we know, from past experience, that what he says doesn’t correspond to what he’ll actually do: and what Johnson wants to do, essentially, is anything that’ll make him popular.
This was first posted on Facebook on 29th January 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The 2021 news is going to be about vaccine supply.
All governments want as many of their people as possible to get vaccinated, as fast as reasonably possible. The UK got vaccine approval pushed through early, before we lost the emergency provisions available to us through the EU: the EU countries were able to move at more leisure, but without any delay.
The total population of the EU is about 450 million. In August, the EU signed a deal with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses, with an option for 100 million more – that is, enough vaccine to fully-immunise almost half of the EU population. This vaccine would be produced at the UK-Swedish multinational’s plants in the Netherlands and Belgium. Those plants have reported production delays: their CEO says production at those plants is “basically two months behind where we wanted to be” and a EU official is quoted as saying that instead of receiving 100 million doses in the next two months, the EU is now expecting only 25 million by the end of March.
The Internal Market Bill passed Second Reading last night by 77 votes.
I couldn’t listen to all of the debate – I was working yesterday, having decided to take off Wednesday and Thursday as usual – for PMQs (Keir Starmer will be absent: he is self-isolating as one of his household has shown symptoms of coronavirus) and because Wednesday is the second day of the committee of the whole House examining the bill.
But I listened to enough of the debate, including Boris Johnson’s opening statement presenting the bill (and Ed Miliband’s strong rebuttal – Starmer picked him to sub in, and I have to say, he was terrific) to see very definitely two things.
This was first posted on Facebook on 11th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Let us consider where we are.
Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and holds a 79-seat/bullet-proof majority in the House of Commons. He has made clear to his MPs that neither rebellion nor dissent are tolerated and he will remove the Whip – that is, make a Tory MP an Independent MP without a party – from any of his MPs who act in any way contrary to his instructions.
Boris Johnson has instructed his government to insert clauses into the Internal Market Bill which break international law. This has been publicly admitted to by several of his Cabinet ministers – not that Boris Johnson gave the instructions (it may have been Dominic Cummings, who knows) but that certain clauses in the Internal Market Bill do break international law, Ministers of the Crown know this, and they want this bill enacted even though it breaks international law.
This was first posted on Facebook on 7th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network. Every time I tried to begin a post here about politics, since Thursday, I kept thinking “But David Graeber is dead.”
David Graeber died in Venice on Wednesday 2nd September. I didn’t know him personally and my sense of loss is only what I feel when a writer I admire and respect and want to keep writing is gone: there will never be any more clear sharp insightful essays and articles from him, never again. He was 59 and I am old enough to feel strongly that this is far too young to die.
I watched PMQs on Wednesday, and Boris Johnson, fresh from his holidays, reacted to Keir Starmer’s questions with an outpouring of poisonous bile. He didn’t look well, not that his illness excuses his behaviour: as John Crace noted, PMQ is essentially a kind of Westminster performance, something perhaps only political afficionados care to watch: but it is a dance with rules, a question followed by an answer, a follow-up question, a follow-up answer. Boris Johnson was interrupted mid-flow by the Speaker, who very gently and politely told him to answer the question. I don’t think I’m inventing this: Lindsay Hoyle looked worried.
This was first posted on Facebook on 3rd February 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
“There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules,” says Boris Johnson’s pre-written speech for Monday 3rd February, leaked Saturday.
The negotiations are not due to begin til Sunday 1st March, and the trade deal must have been negotiated, checked, translated, and presented to the European Parliament before the close of the penultimate European Parliament plenary session of 2020, which is Thursday 26th November. The UK can ask for an extension on the 31st December deadline if we do so by 30th June, but Boris Johnson has already said he isn’t going to do that.
This was first posted on Facebook on 31st January 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Boris Johnson says that midnight Brussels time, 11pm in London, when #Brexit begins, represents “a new dawn”.
That would be the new dawn in Singapore – as the “low key celebration” begins in Number 10 Downing Street, the sun rises at 6:55am Singapore Standard Time.
This was first posted on Facebook on 1st October 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.Tomorrow is Boris Johnson’s first PMQ since he unlawfully attempted to prorogue Parliament.
However, rather than handle PMQ himself, Boris Johnson has told off Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary, now the Foreign Secretary, to take PMQ for him: Johnson plans to enjoy the last day of the Tory conference and give the closing speech, not be bothered with questions from Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford.
When Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, he appointed multiple deputy Mayors to do his work for him. This looks like more of the same.
This was first posted on Facebook on 26th September 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I didn’t get home from work in time to listen to Boris Johnson in the Commons. At the point when I switched on Parliamentlive TV, Boris Johnson had walked out a few minutes earlier: Anna Soubry was making her point of order.
Boris Johnson lied in his speech – he claimed that the EU were open to negotiating an alternative to the Northern Ireland backstop, and so a withdrawal deal could therefore be negotiated. As several Brussel-based journalists are reporting this morning, EU-27 don’t expect anything from the UK that offers a viable alternative to the backstop in keeping the Irish border transparent/preserving the Good Friday Agreement. They haven’t received anything, and they don’t expect to. But lies about Brexit and EU negotiation are normal from Tory ministers.
Boris Johnson also said, explicitly, he thought the Supreme Court were wrong to rule his prorogation of Parliament unlawful.