The Globe and Mail reports that “Boris Johnson has won the race to become the leader of Britain’s Conservative party and he’s now set to take over as Prime Minister from Theresa May on Wednesday … [and] … The former mayor of London defeated his only rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, by 92,153 votes among party members to 46,656.“
Good luck to him … and to Britain.
The Globe and Mail says that “Mr. Johnson, 55, will immediately face a number of major challenges when he assumes office. They include resolving the Brexit dilemma and addressing the country’s escalating confrontation with Iran. And he’ll have to do that while leading a minority government and navigating a parliament that’s largely opposed to his Brexit plan … [because] … Britain is slated to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 but there is still no withdrawal agreement or any arrangements governing future trade … [and] … Mr. Johnson has promised to leave on Halloween “come what may,” raising the real prospect that Britain could crash out of the bloc. While he has insisted that he wants to reach a deal with the EU, Mr. Johnson has rejected the pact struck by Ms. May. She spent nearly two years negotiating a divorce agreement with the EU only to see it voted down by the British parliament three times. Her failure to deliver Brexit led the party to push her out as leader in May … [but] … Mr. Johnson’s willingness to accept a no-deal departure has caused tension among many Conservative Members of Parliament. At least four current senior cabinet ministers, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, are expected to resign in protest over Mr. Johnson’s strategy. One junior minister, Sir Alan Duncan, stepped down on Monday saying he had “very grave concerns that [Mr. Johnson] flies by the seat of his pants.” Another junior minister Anne Milton quit on Tuesday. They are expected to join a growing block of Tory MPs who are opposed to leaving the EU without a deal, arguing it would be damaging to the economy. Some MPs have said they would consider joining with opposition parties to bring down the government in order to stop a no-deal Brexit … [and, just to complicate matters even more] … The Tories don’t hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons and govern thanks to the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party which has 10 MPs. But even with the DUP’s support the government’s working majority is just three seats. The Tories are also widely expected to lose a by-election next week in Wales, dropping their hold on power to two seats. All of which puts Mr. Johnson in a fragile position from the day he takes office.”
I suspect that a “no-deal Brexit,” a Haloween “crash out” as the Good Grey Globe says, is very possible, even likely because, it seems, neither the British Government nor the EU is willing to craft a mutually beneficial divorce arrangement. Absent such a deal, I am inclined, very reluctantly, to support a “no-deal Brexit” as the least bad outcome. I think, as I said 3½ years ago, that while leaving the EU is, still, bad economics, staying in is even worse policy. The EU is in dire, even drastic need of reform, and I think (just hope?) that a “no-deal Brexit” might be the catalyst … the operative word being might.
So, good luck to Boris Johnson as he looks for ways out of multiple impasses; good luck to the British people (does an independent Scotland loom on the horizon?); good luck to incoming Europen Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU, too. In fact, good luck to all of us, including Canada, as we seek to adapt to what will happen, over the next 100 days, in Europe and in Britain.