DrThe local elections went worse for the Conservative Party than they did for Boris Johnson. Despite the losses, particularly in London, the voter penalty remained at levels not seriously alarming the prime minister. Only a few local conservative politicians and MPs called for the head of government to be replaced. He is therefore in the saddle more strongly than he was before the losing election.
The Conservatives don’t seem happy with Johnson, but they don’t seem unhappy enough to vote on him either. At the beginning of the year, it was still accepted that his political end was not a question of if, but when. Now the votes are increasing who want to go to Johnson in the general election of 2024. Not only are there a shortage of convincing successors, but many have also admired his leadership in dealing with Moscow. What sometimes happens to be Pocket Churchill in the European Union is being lauded on the island.
And Partigate is not likely to drop him in the end. Even before the police investigation is over and the “Grey Report” is published, citizens know what they need to know: Johnson wasn’t too meticulous about his own Corona rules – nor was he about the truth. However, many citizens see the arrogance of power not as a specialty of Boris Johnson, but as a rule from “there”.
The leader of the Labor Party was also investigated
The fact that Labor Party leader Keir Starmer is now under investigation for Birgit fits this perception. By promising to resign if he is also fined, Starmer wants to distinguish himself from Johnson and restore integrity to the political culture. But many also see his move as a “gamble”: if all goes well for Starmer, the pressure on Johnson will increase again. In the other case, he falls alone on a glass of beer.
Johnson is not looking forward to stable times. The war in Ukraine shows itself in the kingdom. It contributes to inflation that some see at 10% in the near future. Central bank reactions and economists’ forecasts put citizens in the mood of a dark period. The cost-of-living crisis is omnipresent, and government responses seem impotent.
An apparent economic crisis in England threatened to change perspective in other parts of the country: the worse the situation of 55 million Englishmen, the weaker the cohesive forces in the small “states”. In Wales so far there have been fantasies of separation, but in Scotland the pro-independence camp can benefit from the situation in Scotland – the sick partner is more likely to separate from the successful partner.
Re-referendum on the agenda in Northern Ireland
This logic also applies to Northern Ireland, where Sinn Fein’s victory put the referendum on the agenda. There is still a majority in sight for reunification with the Republic of Ireland. Nearly 60 percent of voters voted for parties that do not want to change the constitution. But the trend is there, and it will be driven by the consequences of Brexit.
In order to enable the formation of a government in Belfast, Johnson must change the “Northern Ireland Protocol” in the Withdrawal Agreement. Officially, the goal is to scrap new cargo border controls, which are said to have already reduced British shipments to Northern Ireland by 20 per cent. But the truth is that the Conservatives and unionists in Northern Ireland are at odds with the political dynamic. They fear that Northern Ireland’s relations with Britain are eroding and that relations with Dublin (and thus Brussels) are strengthening.
Johnson’s argument that the protocol undermines the Northern Ireland peace process has been inverted in Brussels: it was not the Brexit agreement that caused the unfortunate situation, but Brexit itself. This primary conflict is also reflected in the current exchange of blows over the British threat to suspend the status of the Protocol. Brexit remains a stumbling block on the path of rapprochement desired by both parties, made even more important by the strategic threat from Moscow.
Johnson, who has so far been mainly involved in fighting the current crises, will have to show before the next general election that Brexit also has positive aspects. He began with this in Tuesday’s “Queen’s Speech”: The “Brussels bureaucracy” backlog in legislation must be wiped out and the promise to end uncontrolled immigration fulfilled. The fact that the kingdom will achieve the latter by also transporting migrants and refugees to Rwanda and processing them there is unlikely to convince everyone of the magic of Brexit.