Former Tory Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine has raised a serious possibility: with Boris Johnson in danger of losing his job because of rule-breaking, his Brexit may lose its credibility.
Lord Heseltine, writing in The Guardian, suggested that
Having proclaimed the Brexit referendum triumph of 2016 as the unique achievement of Boris Johnson and praised his historic success in the election three years later with the slogan “get Brexit done”… the wreckers of the European dream slowly begin to realise that if Johnson goes, it shifts the sands from beneath their feet.
He and Lord Adonis, leaders of the European Movement, devised and publicised the slogan, “If Boris goes, Brexit goes”. It’s causing hysteria among Brexiteers, but they have a point:
If the prime minister is found to have lied to parliament and to the people, what defence is there to the allegation that the Brexit cause – mired in similar controversy over lies and dissembling – was conducted with the same disregard for the truth?
We all have a clear memory of the Brexit campaign and what was said. That we were being run by Brussels. That European restrictions were holding back our economy and lowering our living standards. That we could keep all the benefits of the single market and customs union, while negotiating trade deals with faster-growing countries in a world that was shifting east. That we had to regain control over our borders. That there would be no new border between Northern Ireland and mainland Great Britain, and that the Good Friday agreement, having ended years of strife, would be fully honoured.
[Johnson] claimed that a barebones trade deal – without most of the benefits of the customs union and the single market – was “oven ready” and would “get Brexit done”.
Except [the] deal didn’t “get Brexit done”. Within months it had seriously frustrated trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and the government threatened to tear up the very deal it had itself negotiated to safeguard the position of Northern Ireland. Lord Frost resigned from the cabinet as Brexit minister last December after less than a year, complaining of the Covid strategy but also bemoaning that, regarding Brexit, the correct agenda was not being pursued.
He gave no detail as to what that agenda should have been or who was holding it up, but the villains were familiar: the metropolitan elite, the civil service, the BBC, Brussels, the remoaners – … Everyone except the actual people in positions of power.
And now Johnson, under serious threat of losing his job, has made Jacob Rees-Mogg Frost’s successor – a man so clueless he has actually asked Sun readers if they have any ideas that could save Brexit.
Meanwhile, the bombshells continue to land: now, even cows have become a Brexit sticking-point – because their ears have to be re-tagged if they move from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.
It’s another example of the “burdensome red tape” that has been choking the UK ever since Johnson’s “oven-ready Brexit” was enacted – a change that, remember, he promised would release us all from bureaucratic restrictions.
So Brexit may unravel altogether if its biggest cheerleader bites the bullet over Covid-19 rule-breaking.
Would that be such a bad thing?
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