Sunday, December 5

Johnson will be pursue his own agenda for the next five years


 

 

The most powerful British leader since Tony Blair, Boris Johnson can steamroll Parliament for the next five years in pursuit of his agenda.

The same goes for chief aide Dominic Cummings, who will exert greater influence over British national life than ever before.

BBC beware and for that matter, Channel 4, civil servants and the Supreme Court. The Conservatives begin a fourth term in office with a staggeringly large majority, beyond their wildest expectations, restoring the party to the dominance it enjoyed in the late 1980s.

None of this guarantees easy times ahead, since no previous postwar government has had to grapple with redefining Britain’s place in the world, brokering new trading rules and security co-operation, trying to protect the United Kingdom from the twin challenges of Scottish and Irish nationalism, and mending a divided nation. Quite the in-tray. When standing in Downing Street, calling for national “healing” and “closure”, Mr Johnson did at least manage to avoid singing “We Are the Champions”.

Make no mistake, the UK may not exist in five years. Despite the SNP’s spectacular gains across Scotland, the Prime Minister is determined to stonewall Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for a new independence referendum.

She has grounds to argue that circumstances have changed since the last failed (albeit recent) attempt, and SNP support grew substantially to 45 per cent of votes cast in Scotland, shy of the magical majority that would terrify Downing Street. Mr Johnson will try to kick the problem beyond Holyrood elections in 17 months’ time, hoping that the Scottish public will bail him out then. Russian roulette.

Across the Irish Sea, Northern Irish voters have elected more nationalists than unionists to Westminster for the first time since partition in 1921, punishing the DUP for Arlene Foster’s gamble with Brexit and her role in crippling Stormont.

Nationalists are now beginning preparations for a vote on a united Ireland. Neither fracture is inevitable, but the circumstances for nationalists in Scotland and Ireland have never been more favourable. This was a predicted consequence of Brexit and none of us can say that we were not warned.

The Conservatives’ victory has brought clarity to the House of Commons, dangling the prospect of functional government once again, whether or not you agree with its agenda.