Johnson England’s own Donald Trump
THE Internal Market Bill has created the storm Boris Johnson undoubtedly expected it to.
But while there had been an expectation that it would include bad news for pro-devolutionists, no-one until recent days had thought it would go as far as it has, and certainly there was no prediction that it would brazenly seek to tear up the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
Boris Johnson is proving to be far more unpredictable as a Prime Minister than he was as the Mayor of London, when he had the reputation of being quite liberal. But that was before he realised he would have to secure the support of hardline Brexiteers if he wanted to attain the pinnacle of his ambitions.
The uncertainty and confusion of his premiership stems largely from the moment when he decided which of two alternative eve-of-referendum articles he would submit for publication: one backing a Remain vote and the other backing Leave.
Having taken over as Prime Minister from Theresa May, who lost her parliamentary majority after an ill-judged General Election, he realised that he had to repay those in his party who had offered him their support.
He reneged on a promise to the DUP that he would not make Northern Ireland diverge from the general Withdrawal Agreement he negotiated with the EU, but now intends to unpick the crucial change that secured the deal.
In doing so, he reveals his lack of respect for diplomatic integrity and compromises the UK’s standing in the world.
This is quite an extraordinary thing for a head of government to do, and suggests that he is not thinking through the consequences of his actions in a strategic way.
Mr Johnson remains heavily dependent on Dominic Cummings, the iconoclastic figure he chose to appoint as his chief adviser.
At the same time as the Prime Minister and his Cabinet acolytes have been plotting a two-pronged assault on devolution and the agreement he reached with the EU, Mr Cummings has been pursuing a parallel campaign to remove a series of very senior civil servants from their posts. Anyone who does not go along with Mr Johnson’s latest whim, or advises that it may not be the right thing to do, is at risk of losing their job.
Superficially they may appear different, but the more we see of the way both men behave, it’s clear that Mr Johnson is an English Donald Trump.