Boris debacle

Boris Johnson
Date: 24 August, 2020 - Blog


¨You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by avoiding it today¨.

A. Lincoln


The dangerous art of bluffing

Like him or not, one should admit that B. Johnson won the election with a certain panache. He is often compared to D. Trump, as both belong to the right-wing populist strain of Western politicians. This is undeserved. BoJo is very educated person, speaking many languages and a fine connoisseur of UK’s politics and institutions’ functioning. When it comes to his method, he would rather emulate the autocratic chess-player V. Putin.

He managed to convince Briton voters that through the Brexit process, the UK would restore its sovereignty and ¨seize-back control¨. In doing so, the UK would swap its vassal status in the EU and restore a Global Britain.  For sure, this is in a way reminiscent of the MAGA mantra of Donald T. But the foundations of this restoration are more deeply rooted, beyond – just – trade and deconstruction of multilateralism. Lots of avenues have been contemplated to achieve it. Like namely the conclusion of an – advantageous – trade deal with the US! Not a good intuition…

BoJo was much too slow to acknowledge for the threat of the Covid-19. The UK experienced the highest number of excess deaths in Europe. His impatience – say his ¨boosterism¨ – collided with a grim sanitarian reality. Having caught the virus and successfully – humbly – recovered probably prevented him from losing credibility, unlike Trump or Bolsonaro. The opportune appointment of R. Sunak, the flamboyant chancellor, also created a temporary diversion, when the pandemic was running high.

Kowtowing to the US is back-firing

Despite ruinous decisions, B. Johnson political capital has not evaporated

Johnson’s approval rating remains resilient

Statista Coronavirus

Source: Statista


UK miscalculations are not new

The former Conservative administration initiated Britain’s best friend policy with China a few years ago. UK actually opened-up its nuclear sector to China and invited it to build part of the UK’s 5G network. Mr. Johnson, who calls himself a Sinophile, definitely adhered to this strategy when he gained power. The assertiveness of China, the latest screw over Hong Kong and the Huawei saga have lately put a dramatic halt to this romance.

When it comes to the negotiations with the EU, they appear gridlocked, for now. But, ultimately, things may change gradually. Indeed, the links between EU and the UK could emulate the relationship between… the US and Canada. UK must – just – accept the asymmetry of power with its large neighbor, as the price to pay for political independence. Both partners, who actually share lots of interests and value, could gain from the pursuit of deep economic integration and strategic co-operation (like defense). Up to 2020, the two poles of European federalists and Brexiters were totally irreconcilable, as mutually destructive. Now, the brand-new framework following the outcome of the July European Council is opening a new window of negotiations. Indeed, a stronger EU may become the indispensable partner to deal with the threats from authoritarian powers. Will the perfidious Albion be enough inspired – and pragmatic – to U-turn (again) and compromise with Brussels!?

The UK kind of fell in-between-two-chairs with the US and China

Compromising with the EU is imperative to avoid depression and isolation

  • B. Johnson owes the political capital to avoid a UK painful Brexit
  • A compromise with the EU is possible, but not at illusory advantageous terms for the UK
  • UK currency and assets’ underperformance will continue, at least until a deal with Europe is done