For all his talk of liberalism, Boris’ version of Brexit would mean taking a step back from the world stageby Sam Moore / February 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
If no plan survives contact with the enemy, none of Boris Johnson’s schemes survives contact with reality. This stretches back to the early days of Brexit negotiations, when Boris Johnson was one of the members of the Cabinet who most wanted to have their cake and it too. It all started with the infamous NHS bus and his “red lines” overshadowing Tory conference.
Since then, he’s had a consistently eye-catching, headline-grabbing relationship with our relationship with the EU. Now, he’s giving a Valentine’s Day speech advocating a “liberal Brexit.”
Boris’ latest plan first came about following a tense meeting of the Cabinet. One ally of the Foreign Secretary said that he wants to celebrate Brexit as a “beautiful moment of democracy.”
A noble idea, and a liberal one at that, but not a realistic one. One of the cornerstones of the Brexit campaign was the fantasy of “taking back control”—of everything from immigration, to law-making and fisheries.
That means English judges ruling on issues that pertain to English law, rather than the ever-looming bogeyman of the judges of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
But when these things actually happen—when English judges rule on a case relating to Brexit—or MPs vote against a certain version of a Brexit Bill, they’re branded “Enemies of the People,” or mutineers. This gives the dangerous impression that democracy can only be liberal when it serves the purpose that a small number of individuals want it to; something much closer to oligarchy than liberalism.
Of course, there was also Boris’ idea for a bridge across the Channel. The problem with the bridge is that it feels like another one of the Foreign Secretary’s headline grabbing schemes; something that reveals itself to be unachievable the closer it comes to reality. (Since the policy came and went in, well, precisely the amount of time required to make headlines, it’s difficult to tell if the bridge was meant to be a metaphor not.)
Commendable as this sort of connection with an ally might be in theory, Johnson’s views on Brexit means that his bridge wouldn’t work in the real world. Commendable, and maybe even desirable in theory, but unwieldly to the point of impossibility in reality, it feels more like…