The Labour leader has risen to the occasion at a time of national crisis. But a huge amount hinges on what he does nextby Jonathan Lis / September 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
In the last week, Boris Johnson has suspended parliament against its will, lost his majority, lost control of parliamentary business, lost the ability to enforce no-deal in October, lost the vote to secure a general election, purged 21 senior colleagues from the party for defying him, and refused to apologise for Islamophobic remarks on the grounds of liberalism. Today his brother stood down as an MP rather than continue to serve under him. And yet he wants people to believe that Jeremy Corbyn is the out-of-control radical.
A nexus of hubris, cowardice and dishonesty is powering Johnson’s descent more rapidly than even his many detractors imagined. It is not just his Oxford Union debating style in the Commons, promoting flamboyant gesture over engagement with questions. Nor is it the continued insistence that he is progressing towards a new deal, even though the EU insists it has received no new proposals and no new negotiations are taking place. It is more the atmosphere of gold-plated, entitled thuggishness around a leadership which tries to game the system rather than play fairly, destroy colleagues’ careers rather than respect differences of opinion, and devise constitutional tricks to flout the basic norms of our democracy. This toxic regime has taken over the government and will stop at nothing to enforce its arbitrary and ruinous goals.
For four years the Conservatives have attempted to portray Corbyn as the great threat to our society and economy. Corbyn has indeed made numerous errors—not least in his initial confused approach to Brexit and his delay in tackling the anti-Semitism on his party’s fringes. And yet the Labour leader has in recent weeks seemed a man transformed.
The first reason for this is Johnson himself. Too many people assumed that the man famed for his self-confident oratory would easily outperform a less nimble parliamentary performer. They were wrong. Johnson is fast discovering that the job of prime minister is not as easy as it looks. A figure who has depended his whole life on charm, bluster and humour is latterly discovering the necessity of work, diplomacy and talent. Johnson has for the first time found himself under a scrutiny that demands rigour and attention, and he is falling apart.
Then there is the PM’s whole Downing Street operation. It is hard to discern when the disruptive genius will begin and the basic folly end. In just six weeks…