Two 'Anglo' clowns on the world stage - GulfToday

Two 'Anglo' clowns on the world stage

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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Boris Johnson is a principal leader of the campaign for Britain to pull out of the European Union (EU).

If Boris Johnson becomes Britain’s next prime minister, as seems likely, there will be two “Anglo” clowns on the world stage. The US’ Donald Trump being the first to appear.

However, Trump and Johnson are very different types of clowns. A man of unstable mind and limited understanding, Trump is a clown because he has a clownish nature. A clever man with wide experience in politics, Johnson chooses to behave like a clown.

Both have fantastic hair. Trump combs his gold tinted hair up from the back to cover baldness and uses spray to keep it in place. Johnson’s blonde hair forms an unruly halo around his head. Trump is on his third wife and has cheated on all three. Johnson has divorced two wives and lives with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds. He has four children with an ex-wife and one with a woman with whom he had an affair and has had several other extramarital adventures. The main difference between them is that Trump, whose origins are German working class, is anti-elitist while Johnson, who comes from a wealthy, well-connected family, has no hesitation over identifying himself as elitist. Both appeal to low brow “nationalists.”

The clowns are arrogant, misogynist, and determined to impose on their countries policies which revert to past fantasies of glory: Trump seeks to “Make America Great Again,” Johnson appeals to isolationist Britons who look back to the heady days of Britain’s long lost empire. Both lie to promote their agendas and their supporters do not hold them accountable.

As a principal leader of the campaign for Britain to pull out of the European Union (EU), Johnson is now arguing that if Britain leaves without a deal, Britons would not have to pay tariffs on goods imported from the bloc and a hard border would not be re-established between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic. These contentions are refuted by no less a personage than the governor of the Bank of England as well as other experts. 

Ahead of the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should stay in or leave the EU, Johnson falsely argued if it leaves the EU Britain would free up £350 million (Dhs1.6 billion) a week to spend on the country’s National Health Service. Although Turkey’s application to join the EU has been put on hold, he also claimed falsely that Turkey was about to enter the EU, leaving member states open to an influx of Turkish economic migrants. Johnson argues that, if elected, he and newly appointed EU officials could negotiate a new deal by Oct.31, the date of Britain’s expected departure. Meanwhile, to exert leverage on the EU, he would keep the “no deal option. Johnson’s rival, Jeremy Hunt has said he does not back “no deal.”

Pundits argue that a “no deal” Brexit would not only shrink economic growth over a 15-year period but also seriously impact poorer areas where voters favour Brexit. Brexit could also dissolve the United Kingdom if Northern Ireland — where a majority opposes Brexit — votes for unity with the Irish Republic and Scotland votes for independence.  

It remains to be seen if Johnson will sustain serious damage after police were called to intervene in last weekend’s row with his girlfriend. According to polls taken before last weekend Johnson would garner 74 per cent of the votes of the 160,000 Conservative Party members entitled to take part in the leadership contest at the end of next month. His lead over Hunt dropped dramatically due to reports of the fracas. He has refused to comment on the incident although it could undermine his credibility with potential supporters.

Johnson was born in June 1964 in New York City to Stanley Johnson, a student studying economics at Columbia University, and artist Charlotte Fawcett. Johnson’s paternal great-grandfather was liberal Turkish-Circassian journalist Ali Kemal. The family moved back to Britain and then to Brussels where Johnson attended school and gained fluency in French.

He later became proficient in Italian, ancient Greek and Latin.  He attended exclusive Eton College and Baliol College at Oxford University where he maintained contact with upper class Eton friends.

He worked as a London Times journalist but was fired for inventing material and joined the Daily Telegraph where he wrote politically-charged articles that appealed to conservative readers. Between 1989 to 1994, he was posted in Brussels where, as a Eurosceptic, he reported untruthfully about the EU, becoming known as a proponent of “fake journalism.” When he returned to London, he was rewarded by being appointed the paper’s assistant editor and chief political columnist.

Posing as an upper class clown, Johnson became a television personality like Trump. Johnson was given a column in the Spectator, a right-wing publication, and was elevated to the editorship. In spite of his eccentric behaviour and flippant approach to political commentary, Johnson won a seat in the House of Commons in 2001 and 2005. During this time, he made headlines by conducting extramarital affairs and taking independent stands on issues. In May 2008 he was elected Mayor of London. His management was chaotic, predating Trump’s stay in the White House. Johnson was re-elected in 2012 and hosted the Summer Olympics, performing reasonably well. In May 2015, he returned to parliament and in early 2016 endorsed Brexit. Following the controversial 2016 referendum, Johnson backed Theresa May’s bid for Conservative leadership. Johnson was appointed foreign secretary. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt commented, “I wish it was a joke.”

In this post, Johnson insulted and upset foreign leaders and put Britain in difficult situations.

In late 2016, he said British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was serving a five year prison sentence in Iran for training Persians to work for the BBC, had simply been “teaching journalism.” Her sentence was doubled. After upsetting Sikhs, Muslims, and Libya, he resigned in mid-2018, and returned to parliament where he continued to stir dissent.

Little wonder Trump has backed his bid for the top job although there is a major difference between the two clowns. Trump’s chief aim is to make everything about himself, while Johnson’s penchant is to, as the French say, “epater le Bourgeois,” or “shock the middle class” which he, as an elitist, despises.