Table Of Content:
The Greatest Show in the West End: Kyle Smith, National Review, July 26, 2019
Is Boris Johnson “Good For The Jews”?: Melanie Philips, Melaniephilips.com, July 26, 2019
5 Jewish Things to Know About Boris Johnson: Cnaan Liphshiz, Times of Israel, July 24, 2019
How Boris Johnson Turned the British Against Europe: Jörg Schindler, Spiegel Online, July 22, 2019
Whether Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, can deliver Brexit is unclear, but never before in its thousand-year history has Britain been led by a bankable, undeniable, tried-and-tested TV star. Welcome to the BoJo Show. It’s going to be a hoot.
A superannuated political hack once told me that the weekly sparring session called Prime Minister’s Questions [PMQs] was “the greatest show in the West End.” That was during the premiership of David Cameron, the P.R. man–turned–pol. Cameron was slick, smooth, and controlled, but the difference between him and Johnson is like the difference between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Britney Spears. If PMQs is intrinsically the best show in the best theatre district in all of Europe, what happens when its star is an actual showman, a guy who owes his fame and ultimately his ascent to No. 10 to his many appearances on the comedic quiz show Have I Got News for You?
It’s been more than a quarter-century of hacks, flacks, and bureaucrats guiding the United Kingdom since the Iron Lady was chased out of Downing Street. Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister, Theresa May, was so boring that the only detail the political cartoonists could work with was that she sometimes wore leopard-print kitten heels. The Johnson era, however long it may last (and it may last quite some time, indeed), promises to be a giddy romp. Dull moments are hereby cancelled.
“It is only with an effort that I can mahh-sta my feelings here, Mr. Speaker,” Johnson said in his impeccable upper-class accent as he warmed up the flamethrower at the dispatch box. Seated in front of him to receive punishment was the deeply stupid Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose first wife has said that in four years of marriage she never saw him read a book, not even a little red one. After Corbyn made the extremely Corbynesque claim that a free-trade deal with the U.S. would endanger Britain’s National Health Service, Johnson spanked him without mercy:
He speaks about trust in our democracy, Mr. Speaker. And I have to say, the most extraordinary thing has just happened today. Did anybody notice today the terrible metamorphosis that took place, like the final scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers? At last this longstanding Euroskeptic, the Right Honourable Gentleman [Corbyn], he has been captured, he has been jugulated, he has been reprogrammed by his honourable friends, and he has been turned now into a Remainer! In all the flip-flops he has performed in his tergiversating career, that is the one for which he will pay, I think, the highest price. Because this party, now — this party, this government — is clearly on the side of democracy. . . . The reality now is that we are the party of the people. We are the party of the many and they are the party of the few.
After Johnson spent two and a half-supercharged hours taking 129 questions from MPs, parliamentary observer (and theatre critic) Quentin Letts wrote in the Times of London that Johnson “whacked and peeled and pummeled” Corbyn, “turned him into one of those troublingly pondish vegan smoothies.”
As if Johnson weren’t dazzling enough, he had assistance from the brightest new star in British politics, the exquisitely tailored, preposterously old-school, and unabashedly Wodehousian MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, whom Johnson tapped as leader of the Commons and who has denounced EU regulations as “stentorian sesquipedalian sentences.” When Rees-Mogg, whose speech is so upper-class he makes his fellow Old Etonian Johnson sound like one of the orphans from Oliver!, rose to speak, a Labour wag called out, “Resign!” “It’s a bit early,” he replied, before parrying jokey questions about his nanny and his reputation for being the world’s only living fossil. When a Scottish MP suggested Rees-Mogg wanted to dial back the clock to the Tudor period, he got his questioner and everyone else laughing by proving that old things can be good things: “I would point out that the House of Commons predates the House of Tudor: It started in 1265.”
The Conservative-led government isn’t particularly conservative — Johnson spent much of his first appearance in the Commons as PM defending various statist initiatives and vowing to rain more cash on the NHS. But the Tories figure to do a magnificent job of taking apart the vacuous neo-Marxists in the opposition and making a case that is rarely made with such ringing confidence and crackling wit: Socialism can’t be allowed near the levers of power, in Britain or anywhere else.
Britain now has its first celebrity prime minister.
On Tuesday, Boris Johnson was elected leader of the Tory Party following Theresa May’s resignation over her failure to deliver Brexit. On Wednesday, Johnson “kissed hands” with the Queen and thus succeeded Mrs. May as Britain’s PM. As with all social or political developments of note, the Jewish world is predictably asking about this one: “Will it be good for the Jews?”
Johnson has entertained and scandalized Britain for years through his many scrapes, his jokes, his politically incorrect gaffes, his chaotic personal life, his classically trained erudition — he will surely be the first prime minister to install a bust of Pericles in 10 Downing Street — and his ebullient disregard of boring details, such as facts.
Britain may be convulsed by Brexit, the issue that has brought buccaneering “Brexiteer Boris” to power. He has become prime minister, though, in the middle of a crisis over Iran. Last week, Iranian commandos hijacked a British-flagged tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. This was reportedly in retaliation for Britain’s seizure off the coast of Gibraltar of an Iranian tanker said to be en route to Syria and thus in breach of E.U. sanctions.
This crisis for Britain is ironic since the British government has not only been vehemently against U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Britain helped draft but has been working with the European Union to circumvent the resumed sanctions against Iran resulting from Trump’s move.
So will Johnson continue to defy President Trump, who this week lavished the highest possible praise on the new prime minister by suggesting that Johnson was a clone of himself? As so often, Johnson’s own views on Iran are kaleidoscopic: shake him at various times and a different picture emerges.
In 2006, he raised eyebrows when he wrote that Britain should help Iran get the nuclear bomb on the grounds that it was going to build it anyway. In 2013, Johnson and I were on BBC TV’s “Question Time” panel. When I observed that Iran was the biggest threat to the West and needed to be neutralized, he scoffed that Iran posed no threat to anyone. In October 2017, when he was foreign secretary, he expressed optimism that the Iran nuclear deal would survive; he even hailed it as a model for resolving tensions with North Korea.
And yet Ron Prosor, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom, has written that when Johnson visited Israel as a fledgling MP — at around the same time that he was suggesting that Britain should help Iran get the bomb — he was preoccupied with the Iranian threat to Israel and the world.
Now his views seem to have progressed, if only into further incoherence. Earlier this month, in an interview with Britain’s Jewish News, he strongly advised Iran “to cease this madness, not to take any further steps that would break the terms of the agreement, and not acquire a nuclear weapon.” He added: “As Prime Minister, I’d make sure we continue to do everything we can to constrain Iran’s disruptive behaviour in the region.” And he says he is prepared to restart Iranian sanctions.
Really? Sanctions would entail Britain also walking away from the nuclear deal. Yet he still seems committed to that deal. At a leadership hustings, he said he still believed that “engaging with Iran and persuading Iran not to go forward with a nuclear-weapons program is the right way forward… ” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
No matter their political affiliation, all sides can agree that Boris Johnson, who has secured his Conservative Party’s vote to become the United Kingdom’s next prime minister, is a colourful character. As the mayor of London, a position he held for eight years until 2016, Johnson was lampooned by the media for his buffoonery. In one incident, he was wearing a helmet and waving British flags when he got stuck on a zip line that was supposed to be his dramatic entrance into the Olympic Park that year. Also, in ’16, his first year as foreign minister, Johnson was ridiculed for texting on his cellphone throughout Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Those are just a couple examples of the clumsy but chummy style that has allowed Johnson, a 55-year-old journalist turned politician, to rise through the UK’s political ranks even while many of his rivals underestimated him. He won London’s mayoral race twice, even as a Conservative running in a liberal stronghold. On Tuesday, Johnson clinched 66 percent of the vote in the party’s election to determine a successor to May, who failed to deliver Britain’s departure from the European Union. Since Conservatives won the last national balloting in 2017, they will stay in power and Johnson will become prime minister.
For British Jews, Johnson is a mixed bag because of his record on Israel, his own Jewish roots and his apparent disregard for the way many Britons expect senior politicians to speak about religious minorities.
1. Brexit on one side, Labour on the other
Unlike May, Johnson is a hardliner and longtime supporter of Brexit. In other words, he has committed himself to getting the United Kingdom out of the European Union no matter what, with or without a deal with EU officials (May had desperately tried to strike a deal). This is risky because a no-deal Brexit would likely slow down the economy, which in turn could increase the chances that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is elected after Johnson. Many British Jews believe that this would pose an existential threat to their community because of the explosion of anti-Semitism in Labour since Corbyn became its leader in 2015.
2. Boris feels Jewish (sometimes)
Johnson’s maternal great-grandfather, Elias Avery Lowe, was a Moscow-born Jew born to a textile merchant. Johnson confirmed this in a 2007 interview for the Jewish Chronicle. “I feel Jewish when I feel the Jewish people are threatened or under attack, that’s when it sort of comes out,” Johnson said. “When I suddenly get a whiff of anti-Semitism, it’s then that you feel angry and protective.”
3. Still, Jews had complaints when he was mayor…
Throughout his tenure as London mayor, Johnson consistently ignored pleas from Jewish groups to ban the infamous pro-Palestinian Al Quds Day marches through London — events that have featured calls to kill Jews along with other anti-Semitic language and imagery. It was only last year that London police said they would intervene at the event to stop Hezbollah flags from flying. The move came with Sadiq Khan, a Labour politician and practicing Muslim, as mayor.
In 2014, Johnson called Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza “disproportionate,” and “ugly and tragic,” adding that “it will not do Israel any good in the long run.” He apparently tried to balance those remarks in the run-up to elections in the Conservative Party, which has seen a surge in support by Jews who have left Labour over its anti-Semitism problem, by calling himself a “passionate Zionist” who “loves the great country” of Israel. British politicians rarely call themselves “Zionists,” partly because of the actions of Zionist militants against British targets in pre-state Israel. “It’s totally unacceptable that innocent Israeli civilians should face the threat of rocket fire and bombardment from Gaza,” he said in a July 10 interview with the Jewish News. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
How Boris Johnson Turned the British against Europe
Spiegel OnLine, July 22, 2019
One day, Boris Johnson had the idea to build a luxuriant garden bridge in London. On another, he urgently pushed for an airport on an artificial island, mocked by detractors as “Boris Island.” Once, he believed the time had come for a truly enormous construction that would connect England to Europe. And recently, he’s been saying he would like to build a bridge connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Johnson appears to dream of one day walking on water. For now, though, he simply wants to become Britain’s next prime minister.
That’s what brought him here to the seaside resort of Bournemouth in southern England. He ignores the thousands of Brits frolicking on the kilometre-long beach on this summer day, and instead marches straight into the Pavilion Theatre where the “Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club” regularly performs and the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” will soon be staged.
Around 600 members of the Conservative Party are sitting in the cream-coloured theater and are currently in the process of electing a new leader — who will also be Britain’s next prime minister. There’s not much excitement in the hall; the whole thing is more reminiscent of a funeral service than a coronation mass, though that probably has less to do with the desolate state of the Tories than with the advanced median age of the audience, which looks to be around 70.
The two top candidates each have one hour to charm their fellow party members in Bournemouth. Johnson gets to go first. Before the moderator has even finished speaking his name, the 55-year-old works his way around the stage set and marches forward with his bull-necked, compact posture, which always makes him look like a younger and blonder Winston Churchill. Then he rattles off witty remarks to the audience like volleys of gunfire. Are these dark times for the Tories? Yes, but “the night is darkest before dawn.” Brexit? A piece of cake. All the doomsayers who warned of biblical droughts and skies without any airplanes didn’t believe in the greatness of Great Britain.
Boris Johnson says he will complete Britain’s withdrawal from the EU “with style” and that he will no longer ask questions in Brussels, but instead dictate the way forward. “A little bit more resolve is necessary,” he says. By this point, even the most elderly in the theater are cheering.
It’s an entertaining and energetic performance, so very different from that of his challenger Jeremy Hunt, who has rolled his sleeves up to his elbow and memorized almost all the economic strongholds in southern England. But he manages only to gently lull his audience to sleep with facts and figures. Asked what his takeaway from Bournemouth is later, one conservative answers, “That Hunt would be the more competent prime minister, but that Boris would be more amusing.”
So, has Johnson’s time finally come? Will this man who has had a role in shaping British politics for 30 years now be holding the keys to 10 Downing Street next Wednesday? It certainly seems so.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson still has to keep his notorious penchant for self-destruction in check during the final dash. And he has to secure the majority of votes from the Tory Party, which has around 160,000 members. And if he does succeed, he will also have to convince Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that more than half of the elected parliamentarians in the British House of Commons back him. Otherwise, she might refuse to appoint him.
But even at this point, it’s hard to imagine Johnson not becoming Britain’s 77th prime minister. He’s too far ahead in the polls not to win, with seven out of 10 Tories saying they want to vote for him. The man who loves writing about great Englishmen like Churchill and Shakespeare will soon have the chance to show whether he is built of the same stuff. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
On Topic Links:
The Brexit Government Comes to Power at Last: Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, July 26, 2019 – A funny thing happened at the moment in 2016 when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union: The winning campaigners dispersed. One of the most consequential poll results in the U.K.’s history provided a mandate to Parliament but did not produce a government of the men and women who’d made the case for it to voters.
Labour Is Gearing Up For The Wrong Fight Against Boris Johnson: Steven Fielding, Spectator, July 29, 2019 — Boris Johnson is sometimes compared to Winston Churchill, not least by the man himself.
What Boris Johnson’s U.K. Leadership Means for the U.S.: WSJ, July 23, 2019, Video — As Boris Johnson becomes the U.K.’s new prime minister, WSJ’s Max Colchester examines what kind of relationship the new leader will have with President Trump.
Seven of the most hysterical reactions to PM Boris Johnson: Steerpike, Spectator, July 25, 2019 — Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already delighting his supporters, but not everyone is happy about Britain’s new leader.