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The New British Prime Minister: Boris Johnson

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B.A. Sciences poliitques, membre de®

The British Prime Minister is one of the most influential political leaders in the World. Even though, the prime minister is said to be ¨first among equals¨ in the cabinet, he has several powers such as deciding most of the government policies. As head of government, he defends British values and promotes social and economic development. Moreover, the prime minister represents the nation at home and abroad. These prime minister`s responsibilities and duties of the utmost importance for Britain are meant to protect the British way of life and wellbeing. In July 2019, the British Conservatives, the current ruling party, chose Boris Johnson as head of government who has one of the greatest challenges in modern British history which is to settle Brexit and united the nation again. The new prime minister is committed that the U.K. leaves the E.U. with or without any deal. Besides, Boris Johnson says he will energise the nation by investing in health, public safety, transportation, and in making Brexit happen.

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                To begin with, Boris Johnson was elected in July 2019 as leader of the British Conservative and Unionist Party which holds a majority of seats in the Parliament. As a result, Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Johnson won 66% of the votes in the Conservative leadership. The new leader promised that the U.K. would leave the E.U. regardless there is a deal or not with Brussels. The new prime minister is known as a hard Brexiteer who wants the country leaves the single market and customs union regardless of the economic outcome. As well, Johnson was a key figurehead in the Vote Leave campaign of the Brexit referendum.

                Secondly, Boris Johnson was appointed to the premiership by Her Majesty the Queen on July 24th, 2019.  The new prime minister breached protocol by revealing some of his private conversation with the British monarch. The Queen told Johnson that: ¨I don`t know why anyone would want the job.¨ As a result, Her Majesty is well aware about deep social divisions over Brexit and the gigantic challenges the new prime minister will have to face to unite the nation. This new term of premiership could turn into the shortest term ever seen in British history if Johnson fails to settle the Brexit issue once for all. The new prime minister will have to put country first before party and personal ambitions.

                Moreover, Boris Johnson was born in New York City from British parents. He studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford University. He was a successful London mayor who helped to decrease crime rate, build new affordable housing unit. As the London mayor, he was involved in the successful 2012 London Olympics. However, he failed to build the garden bridge which got several donations worth millions of dollars. Unfortunately, he was involved in a project that wasted £43 million (CDN $69 million) on a bridge that was never built. He had been Mayor of London for 8 years with an overall positive term in office. Moreover, he was Foreign Secretary in the May government and he resigned two years later in protest of May`s Brexit plan. Johnson is a true Brexiteers who deeply believes that the U.K. is better off outside of the European Union.

                In addition, the new prime minister quickly chose his ministers of crown to form a government. Johnson`s choice of ministers reflected his new government priorities which is Brexit. Accordingly, the Conservative leader only kept loyal Brexiteers into his cabinet and he purged May`s loyalists and the Leave supporters out of the government cabinet. Sky News describes this new Conservative cabinet shuffle as a ¨brutal cabinet bloodbath¨ and the British network also reveals that this new Johnson approach has created some anger among Conservative MPs. Consequently, several Conservatives do not feel ¨energized¨ by this new Boris Johnson era. Besides, Boris Johnson kicked Jeremy Hunt out of his cabinet. Hunt was Johnson`s main leadership challenger and he is now a Tory backbencher along with some of his supporters. On the other hand, several MPs have been welcomed in the new cabinet such as Dominic Raab, a former Brexit Secretary, becomes British first secretary of state; the Honourable Raab will act as Deputy Prime Minister. Moreover, Jacob Rees Rogg, a Brexit Conservative backbencher, has been appointed as Conservative Leader of the Commons.

                Furthermore, Prime Minister Johnson argues that his government will re-negociate a much better agreement than May`s deal. He told the nation: ¨"We will do a new deal, a better deal, that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe based on free trade and mutual support." Nevertheless, Theresa May’s government took two years to negotiate a comprehensive deal with the European Union and her deal had been rejected three times by the Westminster Parliament. Theresa May worked very hard with the E.U. to find common grounds; thus, this would be unfair and very surprising that Johnson quickly gets a good deal with Brussels. Besides, Brussels refuses to re-negotiate any new withdrawal agreement with the United Kingdom. The European Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker, told the prime minister that the E.U. is willing to ¨add language¨ to the political declaration which is a non-binding document that covers British E.U. relationships. Nevertheless, this would not bring any significant adjustment because these changes must respect principles set in the main withdrawal agreement. Therefore, the European Union does not want a new deal with the British government; therefore, May`s Deal is the only possible agreement that Brussels supports. As a result, the Johnson government intends to leave the E.U. without any agreement signed between Brussels and London.

                Yet, Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s main demand is the complete removal of the Irish backstop from the withdrawal agreement. The Irish backstop is simply an insurance policy that ensures there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland. Therefore, Brexiteers are against the Irish backstop because it keeps the U.K. in a single customs territory with the European Union forever until a permanent deal is agreed between London and Brussels. Consequently, the Irish backstop aims at safeguarding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement; thus, the purpose of the backstop is to keep peace in Northern Ireland by allowing a common travel area between both nations. Nevertheless, Brexiteers highly criticize this system because it the U.K. would retain a very close relationship with the E.U. Besides, the Democratic Union Party argues that this deal could threaten the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain because the deal treats Northern Ireland in a different way than the rest of the U.K. Some backstop opponents want strict time limit put in place for this uneasy plan. For that reason, some people think that the United Kingdom needs a deep and comprehensive trade deal as soon as possible with the European Union to avoid the Irish backstop.

                Finally, Boris Johnson is a very controversial choice for the Conservatives because he desperately wants Brexit no matter what are the social and economic costs. If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, the unity of the nation is at stake since Northern Ireland and Scotland want to remain part of the European Union. Prime Minister Johnson must find common grounds in these tough times and he must put the country before his own political ideals. Johnson`s no deal Brexit could cause significant harm to the nation`s economy along with deeply dividing the British family. Moreover, the opposition parties intend to form a government of national unity by winning a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons to stop a no deal Brexit. Thus, Johnson must show he is the right person to lead the nation through Brexit. Nevertheless, Boris Johnson is a skillful politician and leader; he has shown several times during his career that he could accomplish great things and he will quickly learn to become a great prime minister.


August 19, 2019

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Yannick B. Vallée
par Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallée est un politicologue, diplômé de l’Université Bishop's (Lennoxville, Québec, Canada), détenteur du baccalauréat en science politique. De plus, il a un diplôme d’études collégiales en Techniques administrative (option : marketing) de Champlain St. Lawrence College, au Québec. Il s’intéresse... (Lire la suite)

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