Clowns, Resignations, Brexit: Life in Politics
You know it’s going to be a slow news’ day when one of the top stories circulating this morning referred to a Tory MP who called Boris Johnson a clown. Even worse, Trump’s White House, in all its chaos and ridiculous state, thinks that Bojo is laughable. Our Bojo. According to Rachel Sylvester’s column in The Times, Trump’s administration officials “don't want to go anywhere near Boris because they think he's a joke." To be fair, with Bannon, Spicer and Scaramucci gone, it’s true that the Orange One, the Donald, is Bojo’s only antagonist in the West now. Right-wing populism—and tweed jackets, if one looks at Nigel Farage and Milo Yiannopoulos—with a good dose of white masculinity, couldn’t be more in vogue.
In Europe, it is said that Bojo’s reputation is equally bad: “There is not a single foreign minister there who takes him seriously. They think he's a clown who can never resist a gag."
However, Downing Street was quick to defend the blonde prince, saying that Theresa May has “full confidence” in the Foreign Secretary and she believes “he’s doing a good job.”
While Bojo has had an entertaining career as the political court jester, other politicians prefer to resign in dignity and before their expiration date. Kezia Dugdale resigned as the Scottish Labour leader, yesterday, denying that she did so to avoid being pushed out by Corbyn’s supporters. She said: “I refute that absolutely. What I’m trying to do is something that politicians rarely do, which is to leave with my head held high, without any sort of crisis.” She explained that she felt “frustrated” for being considered a “rightwinger” by her party members and said that she fought for “progressive taxes, asking the richest people in society to pay their fair share, to stop austerity. On that Jeremy Corbyn and I have never anything but 100% united.”
Instead, Dugdale explained that the “immensity of what has happened in Scottish politics,” and the death of her friend Gordon Aikman this past year have pushed her to re-evaluate her life and priorities. She said that she has “a lot to offer public life. I won’t always do that from within the Scottish parliament. There are other things for me yet.”
Her resignation has been translated into a victory for Corbyn, because, whether her own choice or forced to resign, her exit is both an opportunity and the result of the strengthening of the hard left. According to Gerry Hassan at Scottish Review, Corbyn’s camp recognise that “Scotland is one of the keys to forming a future government. But so far, for all the June surprise of the Corbyn Scottish surge, there is little sign that Corbyn or Labour know what to do in Scotland. They have earned the right to be listened to and that is progress.”
On the Brexit side of things, William Hague, gave an interview to Emma Barnett on Radio 5 Live, saying that Britain “will get a worse deal as a result of the election,” because the EU “know that the result of the British election weakened the British government’s negotiating position. It absolutely did.” He predicted that it will be a difficult negotiation and that Britain would end up having to pay more: “We’ll pay a bigger price for leaving, I think, because of the uncertainties of the election result.” On the election, he said: “I don’t think calling the election was a mistake. I think the result was a mistake. Collectively, by the people of this country. And I think there was a pretty poor Conservative campaign.”
Theresa May in Japan
May is in a three-day visit in Japan, during which she will discuss with her counterpart Shinzo Abe, security and defence, and most importantly trade. She is accompanied by the international trade secretary Liam Fox and a delegation of 15 business leaders from Aston Martin, Barclays and Standard Life, to name a few. Ahead of her visit, May said she wanted the talks with PM Abe to focus on an ongoing Japan-EU trade agreement which could be adapted into a post-Brexit Japan-UK deal, an interim deal that would offer businesses continuity.
Since her visit follows North Korea’s firing of a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, May urged Chinese president Xi Jinping to play a more active role and for China “to do everything it can to bring pressure on North Korea to stop this.”
She has called China to intervene and curtail North Korea’s missile plans, while she didn’t rule out the possibility of military action against North Korea. She said: “What is the UK doing? What we’re doing is working with our international partners. We want to continue to bring pressure on North Korea to ensure that they desist this action. And we see that the best way of doing is for China to be bringing pressure to bear on North Korea.”
To finish the hodgepodge of news we’ve heard before, I return briefly to Brexit and Theresa May. Speaking to Sky News in Japan, May reiterated her government’s position on Brexit: “What I set out in my Lancaster House speech is that you can’t be a member of the single market without being a member of the European Union, and we’re leaving the European Union.” Unlike, Labour’s recent decision to support access to the single market and the customs union, May argued that her party's position was firm and clear, and most importantly, her goal was to “deliver on the vote of the British people to leave the European Union.” Bojo might be a jester, and William Hague a pessimist, but no one can blame May for her optimism.