What do Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have in common?
Talks of a state visit by the controversial President Trump have been divisive since the visit was prematurely announced last year. There has been calls for mass rallies and protests against the US leader who - on more than a couple of occasions - has used racist and inflammatory language. Responses have come from both activists and the political class who see the invitation of a state visit as a tacit endorsement of Trump’s views and policies.
Unsurprisingly, the UK’s Foreign Secretary and my “local” Member of Parliament Boris Johnson has tweeted his support for a Trump visit. In his typical posh intelligible language, Boris has questioned leaders like Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan’s calls for a cancellation even referring to the mayor as a “puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.”
Firstly, I must ask, what even is a “popinjay”?
Even by the spectacularly low bar he has set for himself, this endorsement is significant and troubling. While many will see it as Boris just being Boris, it is in fact something deeper.
Boris Johnson is now undoubtedly aligning himself with Donald Trump and we shouldn't be surprised. Lest we forget, Donald Trump led the ‘birther’ movement against then President Obama in the United States at the same time that Boris Johnson was calling Obama “Part Kenyan.” He has weaponized conjecture and rejected facts the same way the Trump administration has in Washington and in the international arena.
It has become clear to me that Boris has successfully positioned himself on the wrong side of wider, international battle of ideas. He has surrounded himself in the company of leaders who see “fine people” among the white nationalists at Charlottesville and believe in a post truth political community.
With the nature of the EU Referendum campaign, the rise in hate crime, the anti-refugee and migrant sentiment in Europe and across the Atlantic; few would argue that international politics is as divided as it ever has been.
There is a clear and present battle in the political realm between the Donald Trumps and Boris Johnson’s of our world with those of us who believe in human decency. Who see a migrant boat in the Mediterranean not as a threat, but an opportunity to reach out our hand and build a fairer world. Who see minority communities not as an economic and security threat, but an opportunity to enrich our communities.
So, what do Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have in common?
They are a new axis of leaders who don't think in terms of morality or what’s right, but rather see the world through the prism of power and political gain. They use incendiary and racist language to further their agenda, brazenly reject facts, undermine free press and accept speculation as truth.
They are engaging in a global battle of ideas.
Our task now is to defeat them.