Sorry, Johnson Will Not Disappear 948

It is currently popular among those who make money writing media articles about politics, to argue that Boris Johnson will implode next year and be replaced as Tory leader by someone more rational and conventional. I very much doubt this: the most important reason for that doubt being the power of the atavistic English nationalist forces that Johnson has unleashed in British politics. Astonishingly, despite the UK government’s hideously inept performance in the Covid crisis, and the corruption and looting of the public purse on a massive scale for which the pandemic has been used, the Conservatives still lead Labour in the UK opinion polls.

Partly that is due to Sir Keir Starmer having no apparent policy other than to ensure that no party member ever criticises Israel. But it is mostly due to the fact that Johnson’s supporters do not care what happens to the country, as long as they can see news footage of black people being deported on charter planes and immigrant children washed up dead rather than rescued. The racist brand is very, very strong in England. Cummings and Johnson’s plan to appropriate it and target the areas of England with lowest levels of educational achievement as their new political base still holds up as a political strategy. Look at the polls.

Tory MP’s care about themselves. They will ditch Johnson extremely quickly if he becomes a perceived electoral liability and therefore a threat to their own jobs. But as long as the Tories are ahead in the opinion polls, then Johnson is secure. The idea that there is a norm to which politics revert is a false one. Many of the same pundits who are assuring us now that Johnson will depart, also assured us that his kicking out moderate and pro-EU Conservatives from his party, and removing Remainers from his Cabinet, was a temporary move to be reversed post-election. There is in fact no going back to the norm.

Even the dimmest Labour Party members must now realise that Starmer lied when he promised he would carry on with Corbyn’s radical economic policies if elected to the leadership of the Labour Party. The Corbyn phenomenon was interesting. It arose as a reaction to the massively burgeoning wealth inequality in UK society and the great loss of secure employment opportunity with rights and benefits available to the large bulk of the population. That situation continues to worsen. Brexit was in large part a cry of pain resulting from the same causes. But Brexit in itself is going to do nothing to improve the social position or economic prospects of the working class.

Whether the novelty of Brexit will in the long term continue to be enough to channel the desire for radical change away from actual programmes of redistribution of wealth and ownership, I doubt. I suspect the Starmer project will falter on public reluctance to yet again embrace a choice of two Tory parties, and Starmer will be ejected as Labour leader before he can become the third Blue Labour PM. In the meantime, I can only urge those in England to vote Green. I can certainly see no reason to vote Labour and validate the Starmer purge.

As a former professional diplomat, I am going to be astonished if there is not a Brexit deal announced very shortly. It is plainly highly achievable given the current state of negotiations. The EU have moved very far in agreeing that an independent UK body, as opposed to the European Court of Justice, can be responsible for policing UK compliance with standards regulation to ensure against undercutting. The “ratchet clause” sticking point, where a mechanism is needed to ensure the UK does not undercut future improved EU regulatory regimes, can be resolved with some fudged wording on the mutual obligation to comply with the highest standards, but which does not quite force the EU to simply copy UK regulation in the improbable event it becomes more demanding than the EU regime. By making the obligation theoretically mutual the “sovereignty” argument about UK subservience to EU regulations and standards is met, which is the ultra Tory Brexiteers biggest fetish. Fisheries is even simpler to solve, with obvious compromises on lengths of agreement periods and quotas within easy grasp.

It should not be forgotten that David Frost is not the plain loutish Brexiteer he has so spectacularly enhanced his career by impersonating domestically, but is the smooth and effective professional diplomat he shows when actually interacting with Barnier. It could only be an act of utter lunacy that would lead Johnson to eschew a deal that the Express and Mail will be able to trumpet as a massive victory over Johnny Foreigner. I expect we shall be seeing a union jacked apotheosis of saviour Johnson all over the media by a week from now at the very latest – another reason he will not be leaving office.

It is of course, all smoke and mirrors. By expectation management, a deal which is a far harder Brexit than anybody imagined when Theresa May set down her infamous red lines, will be greeted by a relieved business community as better than actually blowing your own brains out. As I have stated ever since the repression of the Catalan referendum, I can live with leaving the EU and live with abandoning its political and security pillars. I continue to view leaving the single market and losing the great advantage of free movement as disastrous.

One thing that has been very little publicised is that, deal or no deal, the UK is going to fudge the worst consequences by simply not on 1 January applying the new rules at the borders. There will not be immigration checks on the 86% of truck drivers entering the UK who are EU citizens, for the first six months. Otherwise the queues by mid January would scarcely be contained by Kent itself. Similarly, the UK side will not be applying the new customs paperwork on 1 January except on a “random sampling” basis. Those who are eagerly anticipating chaos on 1 January will thus probably be disappointed. In fact the deleterious economic effects of Brexit are quite probably going to take some time to show through in a definite way. I do not believe we will see either empty shelves or major price hikes in the first few weeks.

My prediction is this: Boris will agree his thin deal and at the end of January the Brexiteers will be gloating that the predicted disaster did not happen. Effects on economic growth and employment will take some time to be plainly identified, and it will be mortifying how readily the Tories will twist the narrative to blame the EU, and also to obtain English nationalist support for the notion that this gradual pain is worth it in pursuit of a purer country, with less immigration. That may sound crazy to you. But is it not crazy to you that the Tories are still ahead in UK polls after the last year? Mark my words; hope that Boris Johnson will simply vanish is very misplaced.

There is of course the possibility that Johnson is indeed completely bonkers and will not agree any deal at all, in which case 1 January chaos is unavoidable and all bets are off. I should be very surprised indeed. But then I did not think Trump would be mad enough not to concede the US Presidential election. Trying to predict the irrational mind is a pointless undertaking. I don’t think Johnson is that irrational; but I have been wrong before.

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948 thoughts on “Sorry, Johnson Will Not Disappear

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  • Tom74

    Just when you thought Johnson’s regime couldn’t get much more corrupt, Daniel Hannan gets a peerage. I guess shilling for Brexit is qualification enough these days – but it’s a sick joke when you consider that virtually everything Hannan has spent years saying was just ‘Remainer’ scaremongering has actually come to pass.

    • Republicofscotland


      From what I’ve heard about Hannan today he vehemently opposed the NHS, he’s all for increasing privatisation in it. As Johnson was ennobling the likes of his brother, I noticed today that Trump pardoned four Blackwater personnel for their civilian killings in Iraq and two other folk who received prison sentences to do with the Russia did narrative.

      • Goose

        Hannan’s superficially charming, like Cummings. You listen to Hannan and you can’t fail to be impressed.

        However, upon closer analysis, his assertions on topics relating to trade and tariffs, i.e., things a leading Brexiter should know in detail, are often factually wrong (he’s frequently corrected by randoms and experts alike on Twitter) and most of his predictions are usually way off target.

  • Carl

    If you are still trailing Boris Johnson in the polls after all the people he’s helped kill and render unemployed, and despite you having received gushing support from the media, it is surely time to accept what has long been obvious.

    There is no longer an appetite for triangulating extreme centrism, a politics of mimicking Tories as closely as possible, afraid of its own shadow.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      The latest YouGov, Westminster voting intention poll (field work 21st to 22nd Dec) gives Labour a 4% lead but I doubt this is telling. Average of YouGov polls since beginning of November (11 polls) give Labour an average lead of 0.5%, so a tie really.
      Certainly, if Knight of the Realm, Sir “Keith” Starmer can’t out perform the worst Prime Minister in modern times, something is far wrong (with Starmer & his iteration of Labour).
      How’s things in Scotland? Average of the last eight YouGov, Scottish sub-samples (composite sample size >1,000) gives: Con 19%, Lab 15%, LibDem 5%, SNP 52%.
      If more folk listened to Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard at FMQs, I would confidently predict that Labour would be in single figures. The man is an imbecile’s apprentice.

      • Carl

        A point behind the Tories in yesterday’s Survation poll …. despite this being the exact iteration of Labour we were told the country was crying out for.

        • nevermind

          the Tories should be 20 points behind by now but with Zio Sta/urmer about, that will not happen. Lets hope they don’t appoint him without an election.

          • Goose

            Starmer’s personal ratings are rightly falling. He’s widely and rightly viewed as indecisive and an opportunist, who is smugly wise after the event.

            Don’t understand why anyone would warm to him really, ‘man of the people’ he ain’t. A barrister by profession, they’re normally cold, distant as they don’t talk the public unless registered for “public access”.

            Since he is clearly on the political right doesn’t anyone else find it odd he gave up a v.good legal career to become a Labour MP under the hapless, centre-leftish Ed Miliband in 2015?

            Why did he become a Labour MP?

          • Monteverdi


            Interesting that only weeks after being elected an MP for his very first time in 2015, after being picked for a safe Labour seat, it was being reported that ‘activists’ were pushing his name forward for the Labour Leadership to replace Ed Miliband.
            This sounds pre-planned and very, very fishy ??


            * He also received £50,000 from the well known Blairite-Zionist Sir Trevor Chinn in 2020 to further his bid for the Labour Leadership. Chinn ceased donations to the Labour Party in when Corbyn was elected Leader.

          • Goose

            Fair to say Ed Miliband made enemies in the establishment with his abrupt U-turn on supporting intervention in Syria in 2013. He’d attended briefings with military top brass alongside Cameron and Clegg. Reports those senior figures were absolutely furious with him.

            Ultimately, the vote in the HoC was lost because Tory MPs also rebelled in sufficient numbers, but Ed Miliband’s opposition was far braver than he realised at the time.

            Purely conjecture , but it may partly explain why the establishment wanted rid of Ed Miliband from the leadership and thus Starmer was sent in. He ended up being a sleeper in Corbyn’s cabinet however, by the looks of things.

  • Goose

    Trade secretary supports UK, not international, courts determining presence of genocide overseas..

    Apparently Truss and the FCO are at loggerheads.

    Palestine, and Yemen next then, Liz?

    • Goose

      I don’t know exactly what’s going on in Xinjiang, China, and therefore don’t seek to minimise it.

      But the selective outrage over human rights abuses from the likes of Truss and Labour politicians like Lisa Nandy is just so hypocritical, when the UK is propping up most of the brutal despots and regimes across the Middle East via electronic surveillance know how and assistance and special forces training. Also , helping the Saudi war on Yemen, where millions face starvation and disease, and deepening ties with Israel as they illegally seize more and more land.

      If we had a MSM journalist worth their salt, they’d put this hypocrisy to them.

      • Goose

        The technologically sophisticated surveillance assistance is particularly obnoxious, as it’s mainly used to monitor pro-democracy activists and other human rights protesters, often resulting in jailings and torture.

        It sounds utterly nonsensical, but the US and UK are actively trying to prevent democracy taking root in these countries, instead seeking to cement dictatorships in place because they’ll toe the line. We can only hope US policy will change under Biden towards Saudi and Egypt, Bahrain et al, but it’s far from certain it will.

    • Courtenay Barnett


      Both the US and UK judicial systems are debunked as farcical and discredited for anyone with a sensible, consistent and honest mind who can so discern and conclude.

      Assange did actually act responsibly and credibly and he did speak truthfully.

      Just look at the conduct of the ‘most credible President’ ever in the entire history of the United States of America. He loved wikileaks and so professed – then now that he can use his last minute Executive Order of pardon – duh..huh.

      What a fucked up corrupted world we live in!

      • Sarah

        News just in – Trump pardons former campaign manager Paul Manafort, ex-adviser Roger Stone and the father of Trump’s son-in-law. So Trump is still issuing pardons. Maybe Trump will save the best – Assange – for last. Here’s hoping.

        • Laguerre

          Trump’s best and last pardon will be for himself (if he can, or even if he can’t), not for Assange.

        • Republicofscotland


          One wonders if Trump has arranged for himself to be exempt from any form of prosecution by the incoming new POTUS Biden, he’d be foolish not to.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Julian’s potential route to a pardon more likely lies through Roger Stone.
      From Politico; “Stone welcomed the pardon and complained he’d been subjected to a “Soviet-style show trial on politically-motivated charges.
      The longtime political provocateur also urged the president to extend clemency to a key figure in the release of hacked emails during the 2016 campaign, Julian Assange, and to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.”

    • M.J.

      Assange’s wikileaks made things hot for Hillary and helped Trump get in. So Assange became the enemy of her enemy. Whether Trump might pardon him, though, even with Sarah’s support, is another matter.

    • Giyane


      No, Craig predicted that Johnson would have the intelligence to agree a deal. The BBC finally revealed the full figure of 6000 lorry drivers in Kent. I don’t know how many times an old Etonian can be water boarded in the toilet before their arrogance starts to wear thin, but 6000 drivers did it, not any flicker of light in Johnson’s brain.

      Hallelujah Alhamdulillah Allahu Akbar. Merry Xmas.

      Last year May lost the war in Syria, and this year the City Hedge Fund elites lost to the EU Gilet Jaunes. This is the start of a new era of mass protest in British politics.
      Well done the EU drivers, showing your muscles on the pristine white dewey verges of Kent! This was a victory of plebeian commonsense over public school pride.

      Vive La France. Vive The EU. Vive the camion drivers, Male and Female , who taught us weakling Brits how to stand up to plutocratic disdain.

  • Dimly

    Surely this 1000-odd page Brexit agreement that we are all expecting in the morning will have to be put to the people for ratification – a Peoples’ Vote!

    • Sally Prepper

      More smoke and fire. We will continue to prep until the ink has dried on the paper. Got an online order coming to day and doing a massive Christmas Eve shop. You can never have enough toilet roll.

  • Allie

    Boris returns from Brussels waving a piece of paper: “I bring fantastic news. We have secured a Great Victory. This Great Nation of ours will continue to feast on out-of-season lettuce. Forks at the ready and Merry Christmas”,

    • Monster

      He was waving a piece of paper from a very large toilet roll on which, among its 2000 sheets, are inscribed the Maastricht Treaty lite.

  • Dom

    Starmer could not see the glaring No Deal Hoax; anymore than he could see a 2nd Covid wave issuing from his reopen the schools demands.

    How do these people make it to the top of British law and politics?

  • ET

    “We cannot in good faith kick Brexit as an English-nationalist project, while simultaneously leveraging our own nationalist arguments to justify delighting in this schadenfreude.”

    From an piece in The Irish times today.:

    “Britain has long been welcoming to the many Irish immigrants who call it home. London is an outward-looking, multicultural city that – though temporarily – is home to a political establishment seeking to undermine that. It won’t be the case forever. And when things balance out we will regret not extending empathy to our closest friends.”

  • Goose

    UK : Boris Johnson’s Tory-linked peerages raise fresh claims of cronyism

    US : Trump’s Pardons are the Realization of the Founders’ Fears

    They really are alike,… the world looks on in astonishment at their chutzpah .

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    If the rumours are remotely accurate regards the imminent Brexit deal, Norway won’t be happy.
    They’re already increasingly disenchanted with membership of the European Economic Area (
    They pay in £137m / annum / million population (£740m / annum) to service EEA membership and wholly control fishing rights in their waters.
    Britain is about to escape £210m / annum / million population (£14,000m / annum) to secure EEA membership (in all but name) for (a rumoured) 25% share of British fishing rights.
    Pro rata, total British fishing rights would therefore be worth £56 billion / annum. This seems unlikely as the HoC currently estimate the total value of fishing (including processing) to the economy at £1.4 billion per annum.
    If I were Norwegian I’d be spitting feathers.
    Still, it disproves the Brexiteers assertion that the EU was an inflexible, Bureaucratic monolith, while proving their assertion that a more advantageous deal could be negotiated using the size of the British economy as leverage.
    Whether the imminent deal is judged good or bad will depend on your expectations. On planet Farage and Francois the deal will inevitably be judged as bad, but then again, their expectations were always delusional.
    Still, don’t savour the “victory” too long, they’re other battles to be fought. A return to Imperial weights and measures, “decent British measures uncontaminated by filthy foreign influence”.

    • Goose


      Always thought that’d be the real test when MEPs finally get to debate the final text. A deal shaped around the needs of French and German exporters(countries that run trade surpluses with the UK) could endanger the already controversial EFTA EEA financing arrangements if it’s seen as too generous to the UK.

    • Republicofscotland


      “NICOLA Sturgeon has slammed a “disastrous Brexit outcome” after it was reported that a multi-million-pound Scottish export has been excluded from a trade deal between the UK and EU.”

      Christ Sturgeon you had four f*cking years to do something about this clusterf*ck, you did nothing to get us out of this “union” instead you bitched and moaned about Brexit. Now the shits hitting the fan yet again and you want to lay the blame at Johnson’s door knowing fine well this was the most likely outcome.

      Stand aside and let someone who really cares about Scotland and its people grab the reins and take us to independence, you treacherous b*stard.

  • Jenni

    News just in: “A deal is done” announces Downing Street. Lots of eggs on faces all around 😀

    • Goose

      Johnson looks like a winner now, but if previous experiences are anything to go by it’ll probably unravel over the next few weeks, months as the concessions emerge.

      There’s been huge expectation management, so of course getting anything when ‘no deal’ was presented as the likely outcome looks like a triumph. Still a far cry from the ‘cake and eat it’ promises made by Brexiters. Services (financial services) aren’t included “The European Commission told member states on Thursday that the equivalence decisions won’t be ready from January 1,” said the EU diplomat.

      In physical goods, we run a huge trade deficit with the EU, so how hard was it for them to allow that to continue… really?

  • Goose

    Quote : Indications from senior figures within the ERG suggest that many of its members will accept the compromises negotiated by Johnson and Lord Frost. – Guardian

    In which case, why does Starmer need to offer Labour’s full support?

    It’s not the far reaching soft-Brexit deal they wanted, so why should the opposition seek to share the blame if a few years down the line it’s proving widely unpopular. Starmer seems to be sabotaging the party.

    And were Labour in power, the idea of the Conservatives backing a Labour negotiated deal would be unthinkable.

  • Goose

    President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted this :

    It was worth fighting for this deal.

    We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities.

    Europe is now moving on.
    Tad arrogant considering the democratically elected part of the EU : the European parliament , hasn’t seen and debated / voted on the full final text yet. This is what many hate about the EU; the EU’s appointed bureaucrats and their cliques issuing edicts from on high.

  • Alistair MacDonald

    Well, the dust has settled and the new course plotted by the Scammers of the Millenium is, as you predicted, being hailed with slobbering Churchillian tabloid prose while the cleansers work to sweep up the detritus of broken promises and scurrilous lies, but only as far as under the carpet.
    And that’s why I have to thank your good self, Mr Murray for daring to lift that carpet and bring your diplomatic Big Gun expertise to bear on the rotten cess pit of corruption that lurks beneath
    Your unvarnished but finely honed observations, patiently dissect all the Kaskaesque absurdities and labyrinthine legal jargonese, way beyond the attention span of us mere mortals, teasing out the precious nuggets into broad daylight with a healthy dose of wicked humour and the inescapable logic of truth.
    You are carrying a massively heavy burden by working probono for us but that work is priceless and we love you for it. Thanks!

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