Britain’s New Prime Minister: Where Next?

Image Credit: Duncan C

By Dave Stockton

Like a storm which has long been forecasted finally breaking, a Boris Johnson Prime Ministership is now upon us. A press that regularly libels life-long antiracist Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite is chary of pinning labels on Johnson as racist, misogynist, homophobe and islamophobe – labels he richly deserves.

Indeed he has said “Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction” given it is “the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers”. Strange given that Christianity has in its record the forcible destruction of the religions of antiquity, the crusades, the Inquisition and the witch burnings, the expulsion of the Muslims and Jews from Spain, and the waves of antisemitic pogroms from the 13th to the 20th centuries.     

He has also scoffed at the idea of climate change, attacked the minimum wage, and called Labour’s repeal of the anti-LGBT+ Section 28 “appalling”. He has even described police spending on investigating child sex abuse as money “spaffed up a wall”.

He has a particular thing about Africa – a “dark spot”, he has called it – whose big problem is  “not that we were once in charge there but that we are not in charge any more”. It would be good if were return to sort it all out, he says, but only on the strict condition we are not made to feel guilty about our new civilising mission.

As a man who wanted to quote Kipling’s Road to Mandalay on a visit to a temple on an official visit to Myanmar, Johnson is steeped in the Boy’s Own Annual culture of the days of the British Empire, just as his view of Brexit is that somehow those days might return. Making Britain Great Again?

Even his seemingly progressive policy of granting an amnesty to migrants who have been here 15 years without papers is given a chauvinist twist. He told a Tory audience in Darlington that migrants had “to feel British – that’s the most important thing – and to learn English”. That a regurgitated version of Norman Tebbitt’s infamous “cricket test” should pass off as “socially liberal” shows just how far right the party has travelled.

His defenders point out that he regularly apologises “if his comments have given offence”. Indeed they pass-off as “wit” or even bravely defending free speech against ”political correctness run mad”. And he is adored amongst the Daily Telegraph-reading 160,00 Tory membership who will choose our next prime minster.

In fact in this as in more serious political policies the parallels between Johnson and the original blond beast in the White House, who has already stated “I think he’s got what it takes. He’d make a great Prime Minister”, run deep.

So what can we expect from him in Number Ten. Well certainly the standard Tory policies: ruling for the few not many.

When it comes to social inequality Johnson’s views are standard elitism, shorn of Cameron and May’s feeble attempts to combat the label of “the nasty party”.  Johnson is more direct when it comes to social questions.

“It is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130.” In a word if you are poor it’s because you are stupid. ” His only concern is Labour’s “social engineering” to offset natural selection. He does bemoan a supposed decline in social mobility – but this means getting to the top.

 “I worry that there are too many cornflakes who aren’t being given a good enough chance to rustle and hustle their way to the top.” And he promises to give the packet another good shake, just as Margaret Thatcher did by slashing social housing and the welfare state. His contempt for the “chavs” and the “plebs” oozes out of every article this Bullingdon Club boy writes.

To encourage the bottom cornflakes downwards and the hustlers and rustlers upwards, Johnson has pledged to raise the 40p tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000, thus giving a tax cut to earners on more than £50,000, around three million higher earners, and further depleting the state budgets for social services, health and education.

But as with the whole Brexit carnival of reaction, Johnson is eager to sound the racist dog whistle on immigration. Having got rid of the European with the end of free movement, he now talks of implementing a points-based immigration system in the style of the racist Australian system.

He has promised that it will be “do or die” for Britain to leave the EU by 31 October (rather appropriately, Halloween). To this end he has reportedly refused to rule out using the royal prerogative to prorogue parliament (prevent it from sitting) so MPs cannot block a No Deal Brexit. But any moves to do this would no doubt provoke a no confidence motion that would in turn trigger a general election.

Nevertheless all sorts of constitutional shenanigans can be expected from Johnson, who has as little respect for the ramshackle collection of laws and customs that passes for our constitution as Trump has for his. 

In short, in Boris Johnson we are likely to have the most racist, bigoted and socially reactionary prime minister in living memory. And to fight his panoply of anti-working class, anti-women and LGBT+ people, and anti-immigrant policies we will have to fight the keystone of their arch-policy: Brexit.

Bring down Brexit and we can bring down Johnson. Bring down them both and we can open the road to a really radical Labour government.


Red Flag is a socialist organisation campaigning within Labour for a democratically planned and owned economy. We campaign for grassroots democracy in the labour movement, militant defence of the oppressed and an anticapitalist programme for the Labour Party. Against Brexit, for free movement. Anticapitalist and internationalist.

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