In the scorching heat of summer, Britain has a new prime minister: Boris Johnson – once an avid remainer, now a staunch leaver, but always a stone-cold opportunist and a liar.
He is a man who has breathed every breath, executed every decision and lived every moment in order to fulfil his personal ambition of absolute power. He doesn’t seem to be thinking about the headlines of today, but the historical annals of generations to come. I can imagine him fantasising about the presence of his name in the books of schoolchildren, in the minds of budding politicos and in the hearts of English nationalists.
He seemingly has no principles, not even Tory ones. His brand of Conservatism is fundamentally a jingoist assault on our liberal freedoms, on economic equality, social justice and our right to live on a more ecologically aware and habitable planet.
Once he left the passageways of privilege in Eton and the Bullingdon Club, he entered public life and extended every fibre of his being towards serving not a specific people, flag or state, but strictly himself.
I don’t believe for one second that he could unite the country and win a general election – but while he is prime minister, we can expect his sole objectives to be the consolidation of his vulnerable grip on power, the entrenchment of hateful nationalism within our communities and the delivery of a programme of maximum damage blustered through with divisive rhetoric, with no regard for immediate, nor long-term repercussions to people or planet.
In truth, I am certain that history will condemn Johnson and the hard-right agenda that sits ominously beneath his superficial buffoonery and flip-flopping tendencies. He will likely leave behind him a legacy of – yes, embarrassment – but also genuine, and potentially irredeemable harm to the country. He is where he is, and that’s incredibly infuriating, but it’s our responsibility to ensure he does not last. And there are reasons to be hopeful in that regard.
In Parliament, he rests on a fragile majority, with critical colleagues candidly proclaiming their incompatibilities and disaffection with a Johnson premiership for us all to see. His reckless rhetoric and mad-cap pledge to force through a no-deal commands no majority among MPs and the British public.
Despite his inflamed egotism, it’s likely even he recognises these facts. Otherwise, why not call an honest referendum with “Remain” and “No-deal” on the ballot?
Moreover, his arrogance drives him to promise anything and everything with no concern for delivering, time and time again. His propensity to mislead were key features of his contribution to the 2016 referendum and they have been central to his leadership campaign once again. The spotlight of scrutiny has never shone so intensely on Johnson as it will do in the weeks and months to come.
The fanatical few – 0.35% of the UK electorate – who chose him as leader of the Conservative party, and consequently the new PM, may have overlooked his historical gaffes, persistent racism and blatant ineptitude, but the majority of the British people, including his abandoned constituents in Uxbridge, won’t. They will remember his flaws vividly and react with deep-seated anger, moral outcry and distrust.
More reasonable Conservative MPs, should be concerned that this premiership may signal the end of their party, as a single unitary force, altogether.
And for the rest of us, we shall applaud his slender Irish unionist-backed majority vanishing into thin air, one by-election after another.
But beating Johnson is about more than ridding British politics of an opportunist. It’s about defeating the vision behind his agenda. When Donald Trump, who has visibly crossed the line into outright racism, celebrates Johnson’s victory, it is clear that this is no laughing matter.
The rise of white supremacy across the democratic world is, unfortunately, as serious as a heart attack. But we, the young, the energetic, the citizens of everywhere have an alternative plan that includes everyone.
We can tackle the rise of the far right, we can prevent climate catastrophe and we can usher in a civilisation of equality and dignity for all. The road to such a future won’t be easy. But the battle line is now drawn: Johnson is the embodiment of the establishment fighting to preserve itself and the status quo that protects their wealth and power. Therefore, defeating Boris is a matter of urgency. And, if we can come together to build, organise, and mobilise, the Johnson premiership won’t last through the winter.
Magid Magid is the Green Party MEP for Yorkshire & The Humber