“The Day After” – and what change we witnessed! Ms May finally went and Boris Johnson is now the new PM, wielding that famous new broom to great effect.
First we had to sit through one of the longest and most tedious PMQs ever. The mixture of subservient thanks by MPs for her service and support for their pet causes on the one hand and vituperation for not doing everything the opposition wanted on the other was dreary. Interestingly enough, none of the Grieve cabal spoke nor did any of the ERG except Jacob Rees-Mogg.
There were no parliamentary shenanigans, such as trying to get in some sort of no confidence vote, although Jeremy Corbyn made a significant Freudian slip at the beginning of his performance when he said ‘the members on the opposition benches’, meaning the Tories. Ah! Hoping for a GE with a Labour win then, wasn’t he?
When Ms May finally left the Chamber, MPs stood to clap her out – except the Labour front bench who sat on their hands. Ah well, ideology before manners …
On to the ensuing spectacle of Ms May leaving 10 Downing Street, going to the Queen, then Johnson going to the Queen and coming to 10 Downing Street: the BBC and SKY outdid themselves in negativity, having only Remain ‘talking heads’ commenting while we waited.
Two Party Leaders, Ms Swinson of the LibDems and Ms Lucas of the Greens, deserve mentioning for their exquisite understanding of democracy. Both want a 2nd referendum, but when asked if they’d accept the result were leave to win again, they said no, they wouldn’t. You can read about it here. Words fail me …
Onto Johnson’s speech as new PM. If you missed it – you can watch the whole thing here. It was a fine speech indeed, especially since the TV talking heads tried hard but failed to be polite to the new PM, preferring to be critical of all the hard points Johnson made.
Of course and inevitably, RemainCentral had this to say, a quip by the Taoiseach included:
“EU officials and diplomats reacted with dismay. “What can one say about the speech?” a senior official said. “His appointments in Downing Street are more worrying.” Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, warned Mr Johnson that “enthusiasm is not a substitute for a European policy”. (link, paywalled)
If the EU didn’t like the speech – good! I’m all for that. We also got to hear all the usual Remain complaints about Johnson not being serious, about him being unorganised, about the Remain Parliament not going to let him get away with it, all accompanied by the unfiltered background noises made by the Remain demonstrators in Whitehall.
Why they – Remain demonstrators as well as Remain commentators – think it was clever to keep showing that EU flag wafting at the entry to Downing Street, that I cannot explain …
And finally – the long awaited proof of Johnson doing what he said he would. He wasn’t cautious and ‘conciliatory’ towards his Remain colleagues and the Remain HoC, oh no. It was a thing of beauty to watch unfold!
Social media were full of tweets about how brutal this was: 17 ministers gone, sacked in a ‘night of long knives’. Here’s a tweet by Robert Peston standing for many others. Oborne’s ‘take’ on the ‘brutality’ is here.
As usual, the MSM, mindlessly copying from each other, accepted without thought that Johnson’s offer to Hunt to take on the Ministry of Defense was a ‘demotion’ and therefore humiliating.
No it wasn’t – especially not after Hunt’s hapless performance in the Iran crisis. Here’s RemainCentral:
“The biggest casualty was Jeremy Hunt, who was forced to quit as foreign secretary after refusing to accept the role of defence secretary because he considered it to be a demotion. That refusal is said to have infuriated Mr Johnson, with allies saying that Mr Hunt had “demeaned” both himself and the role of defence secretary. A better offer from Mr Johnson was not forthcoming.” (link, paywalled).
If The Times wants to paint this as Boris being mean and bent on a vendetta, that is their ‘privilege’, although why they’re astonished that the Brexit PM fills his cabinet with Brexiteers is a bit … odd.
For a non-paywalled list of who is ‘in’, with a report of how events unfolded, go here. Now let’s look at some of the snide remarks by Remainers. First up is Matthew Parris, Arch Remainer in RemainCentral:
“Savagery in politics is sometimes necessary. But savagery must have a purpose. Savagery in the construction of a cabinet may be used to give a clear, even brutal, shape to a new prime minister’s plans. But yesterday was just carnage. I know what the retention of Jeremy Hunt as foreign secretary would have said about our future foreign policy: cautious and steady. But what does the name Dominic Raab say? Hard Brexit and little more. What does the name Priti Patel say about direction for the Home Office? Hard Brexit and little more.” (link, paywalled)
Savour this: Hunt had to go but should have been retained, according to Parris. Even more amazing: Johnson appointed Brexiteers so he can fulfil his promise to have us ‘Out’ on the 31st of October. Unprecedented, innit! More Parris:
“Looking at the names added and deleted from the cabinet yesterday brought an image to my mind. Not of a prime minister carefully consulting colleagues and whips as he shapes an administration whose composition tells us what kind of Britain he wants: an administration that will pull together and feel like a team; avoiding needlessly wounding or enraging too many other colleagues. Instead, I see a boy alone in a room with crayons and a blank sheet of paper, putting horns on the faces of those he does not like, or who have hurt him, and smiles on the faces of his chums.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear. What did he, what did the Remainers expect? A continuation of ‘steady on Remain’ policies so as not to ‘hurt feelings’? Better ask what this diatribe tells us about Parris! Another writer bemoans the fact that Johnson’s cabinet isn’t sufficiently ‘diverse’:
“Although Team Johnson had initially pitched the new top table as the most ‘diverse’ in history, in fact it turned out to be Brexiteer heavy and reaminer [sic!] light, with leavers appointed to four of the five most powerful jobs.” (paywalled link)
Interesting, isn’t it, how suddenly ‘diverse’ isn’t about skin colour any longer – difficult to maintain with Sajid Javid as Chancellor and Priti Patel at the Home Office – but about political attitudes. Praise for Johnson’s cabinet comes from Andrew Lilico in the DT:
“No-one should have any doubt where he is going. It is to No Deal. Only the EU can divert him, by offering a deal he could accept — though it will not do so. […] For the problem is not Boris. It never was. Neither is it Javid or Patel or Raab or the rest of his, truly excellent core team — perhaps the best Tory Cabinet since the mid 1980s. The problem is that only about a third of Tory MPs believe in Brexit at all, and that there are probably at least somewhere between 20 and 50 (maybe many more) that would vote against him in a Confidence motion if that’s what it took to stop No Deal. An election is coming. But when it does, Boris could not have signalled any more clearly where he will stand. His Cabinet cries out for him: “No deal or bust!” (paywalled link)
Many will have wanted to see Leave stalwarts being given a role in this new government – MPs such as Owen Paterson, Mark François, Sir John Redwood and Sir Bill Cash. I think they are better placed on the back benches from which to shoot down, verbally, the Remain opponents.
And now to a most significant appointment, that of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Here is a non-paywalled report, and here’s the DT:
“In possibly the most dramatic appointment of the evening, arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who proved such a thorn in the side of Mrs May, was made Leader of the Commons.” (paywalled link)
Political pundits remarked that Rees-Mogg, who knows more about parliamentary customs and procedures than any other MP, was appointed to keep in check the Arch Remainers and their parliamentary shenanigans to prevent a No Deal. Rees-Mogg is now also best placed to keep the Speaker ‘honest’ and prevent his parliamentary escapades to help Remain.
Together with Gove, who has the brief to supervise all No Deal preparations while keeping an eye on the Civil Service this appointment means that Johnson truly means to have us ‘Out’ on the 31st of October. Can he do it? We’ll have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, the first cabinet meeting is at 8.30am today and the HoC will meet for the last time before going into the summer recess. Will the plotters, will Corbyn have prepared their schemes to get rid of Johnson today? We’ll have to wait and see.
As for me – after the tedium of May’s leaving the fast and furious start of BoJo as PM was exhilarating. And yes, we’ll have to wait and see if this firework will fizzle out quickly when the inevitable ‘Rain of Remain’ sets in – or if this is a sustained effort of ‘Brexiteers United’ to finally do what we want: Leave the EU.