The dust has settled, at least for the moment. Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party won comfortably on December 12th. Labour and the Lib Dems were routed.
It wasn’t a landslide, but it was convincing enough, and his majority should see Boris safely through the next five years if he chooses.
The Conservative Party won 43.6 per cent of the vote, and 365 seats (up by 48). Labour won 32.2 per cent and 202 seats (down by 60), and the Lib Dems won 11.5 per cent and 11 seats (down 1). No doubt many of us were unkind enough to cheer loudly when learning that former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson had lost her seat (after bragging on national radio early in the campaign that she may be Prime Minister by the end of it).
Many other prominent Remainers either stood down or were dumped by their electors. We now, for the time being, have a Parliament that, on the paramount question of Brexit, more or less reflects the feelings of the British electorate.
How will Boris Johnson use
his comfortable majority?
Will the Prime Minister use his majority to put up a tough stance in future EU negotiations and ensure a proper, genuine Brexit? Or will he use it to give himself room to waver and ditch his hard line Brexit supporters so as to sell out to the European Union?
What are the signs? Well, Boris Johnson has a history of genuine dislike of the European Union. In his years as Editor of the Spectator magazine it ran frequent editorials highly critical of the EU. In the 2016 Referendum Campaign he was one of the leading campaigners in favour of leaving, having resigned from David Cameron’s cabinet so he could do this. He later resigned from his post of Foreign Secretary in Mrs May’s Cabinet in protest against her sell-out deal with Brussels.
Even if he is a career politician, which most likely he is, then he has nailed his Euro-sceptic colours to the mast so firmly that he cannot start watering them down even if he wanted to. He carefully manoeuvred himself into a position where he was almost unassailable in last summer’s campaign to replace Mrs May as Tory leader.
And in the time when he was Prime Minister in the rump Parliament, where he had no party political majority, and certainly no pro-Brexit majority in the House of Commons, he steered a way through the minefield laid by the Remainers of all parties. He worked patiently and skilfully until he was able to force Corbyn and the Labour Party to accept that a General Election was the only way out of the deadlock
The new Withdrawal Agreement
The second major indicator of how Johnson will use his majority lies in the Withdrawal Agreement. This was originally negotiated by Boris Johnson with the EU in October 2019 but has been subtly changed since December 12th. All the concessions that had to be made to the Remainers in the autumn have been deleted.
No longer will the Government have to go back to the Commons regularly for approval of its negotiating objectives for each new phase of talks. This original requirement was simply an excuse to bring negotiations to a halt, at times, and trap the Government in a quagmire of deadlines and points of order.
The transition period remains, and will be with us until 31st December 2020. In that period we will still be in the Single Market and the Customs Union. We will also have to continue rubber-stamping EU law onto our Statute Book until the end of 2020.
But the power of the EU to interfere in how we manage the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been reduced drastically. This little sub-saga is almost certainly by no means played out yet, but at least we appear to be getting all our borders back under our own control.
Clauses in the original Withdrawal Bill that pledged to align our laws on workers’ rights with corresponding laws in the EU are now gone. The Queen’s Speech contained, instead, a promise that our own workers’ rights would be “protected and enhanced”, but under our own employment law.
Getting free of the chains
This is a most welcome development, as it not only restores another section of our national sovereignty but also gives the lie to yet another of the Remainers’ arguments – that the UK has benefited from the EU’s supposedly superior and benevolent workers’ rights.
In reality, these laws were designed to ensure that our industries didn’t have an “unfair advantage” over their EU counterparts, thereby stifling enterprise and innovation. We are all – shop floor and management – well shot of them.
Another welcome move is the rejection by the UK of obligations imposed on us by the EU to give special rights to unaccompanied foreign children seeking asylum in our country.
Whilst ostensibly seeking to “preserve family life”, obligations like these are invariably used by cynical people-traffickers to make even more money by being able to charge for smuggling children as well as adults. And the left used them to ensure that, once an illegal migrant had made it over the Channel he could lawfully call for his whole family to join him here.
We are, however, under another obligation – this time to make a statement within two months of the passing of the Act, presumably to satisfy the EU that we have a similar kind of law for the protection of foreign children who land here. This is an example of how the EU will continue to interfere in our internal affairs if we let it.
The boot’s on the other foot
But finally there is the coup de grace. This comes as a double blow to the EU and the Remainers. First, the Government is no longer promising to keep in line with the “Political Declaration” that accompanied the original Withdrawal Agreement in future negotiations with the EU. This “Political Declaration” was simply a device to be used by the EU negotiators in preventing the UK from negotiating from a position of strength.
If our negotiators put forward proposed terms that were deemed too tough (or resisted onerous terms proposed by the EU) the EU would be able to accuse us of deviating from the “Political Declaration”. The ECJ would back them up, if necessary. It was another example of how the EU rang rings around Theresa May, probably with her consent, as it meant that in the negotiations, we could never win. We could only lose.
But the hammer blow is this. Any extension to the transition period beyond 31st December 2020 has been outlawed. This completely puts the boot on the other foot. Until now, pressure has always been totally on the UK negotiators to accept whatever deal they could get from the EU so as to avoid having to apply for an extension.
That pressure is now on the EU negotiators. If no agreement is reached by 31st December then we leave without one, and commence trading with EU countries on WTO terms.
This would cause far more damage and disruption to the EU and its member states than it would to the UK. Let us now see how prevaricating and obstructionist the EU negotiators and their pals here in the UK are going to be, now that they are the ones having to fight an uphill battle against the clock!
Standing up to Brussels
There’s another indicator still. How does Johnson react to bullying from Brussels? Especially now that he has a pro-Brexit majority in the House of Commons. The answer came even before the General Election took place.
After the 2019 elections to the European Parliament the term of office of the President of the Commission, together will all Commissioners, came to a close. That means goodbye to Junker but hello to someone equally obnoxious – Ursula von der Leyen (nee Albrecht) – with whom Johnson had a high profile meeting on January 8th. At that meeting, Johnson made it clear that any trade deal between the UK and the EU won’t be based on any “alignment” of UK laws with EU law. In other words, once we’ve left we won’t carry on acting as if we were still inside that wretched bloc. That makes a refreshing change from what we had to endure under Mrs May.
Another interesting pointer is this. The UK should have appointed a new Commissioner in November 2019. Every other EU member did so. However, as anyone with a modicum of common sense would realise, there wasn’t much point in doing so, as we’ll have left by the end of January. Such a Commissioner would only be in the job for a couple of months, including the extensive Christmas break.
The Government therefore decided not to make any such appointment. The European Commission launched a legal action against the UK Government to force it to make an appointment, but the Government have stood firm. In fact they appear to have treated the whole matter with the contempt it deserves. The EU Commission have shown themselves to be more interested in power than good government.
2020 – The year of national
freedom from the EU!
So in answer to our question, it seems on the evidence currently available that the Prime Minister is prepared to force on the EU a genuine Brexit.
He must know that the EU negotiators, and the Commission generally, are dishonest crooks who will do whatever they can even now to frustrate a proper withdrawal of the UK from the EU. However, he has so far shown himself to be more than a match for them. He was wrong-footing them even when he himself had no Brexit majority in the House of Commons. Now he has the whip hand, the likes of Barnier and Ursula von der Leyen, the new Commission President, have had all the wind taken out of them.
A close escape
In being able to free our country from the clutches of the EU we have been extremely fortunate. Even now, Remainers and Euro-Federalists are plotting to bring about a situation in which we can be recaptured. Before the end of December 2019 the Vice President of the EU Commission bragged about how the European Army is now a reality.
Do you remember how the Remainers dismissed our claims in 2016 that this Army was on the drawing board? How they derided such a notion! Well, now it’s fact. Here she is, boasting openly about it. Note how she claims that such a thing would never have been possible “even six months ago”.
But the price is
We have a duty to follow all the negotiations to ensure that we have a genuine Brexit, and not a Brexit in name only. We must be forever vigilant, for if we lose sight of what’s happening we can be sure that the EU and its many supporters in the UK will act quickly to start a process that will enslave us once again. If that ever happens you can be sure there will be no escape a second time. And then the fight against globalisation and a One World Government really will be lost for good.
Boris Johnson has found himself in a position of sacred, national trust. The whole nation is looking to him to deliver on a promise that was made nearly four years ago and that other politicians have cynically and cruelly betrayed. We expect him to resist the temptations and pressures that will be heaped upon him by pro-EU forces in their efforts to dislodge him from his purpose. But at the same time we all are obligated to give him all the support he needs and to place no obstacle in his way in making our country free again.
Watch this space.