Friday, 1 July 2016

Will implementation of Leave not need the political charisma of Boris Johnson? Was he needed only to win the Leave vote?

Here's an interesting article, Gove and Johnson: What happened?, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36679738, dated 30th June 2016

A small extract from it:
Everyone is trying to work out exactly what happened that led Michael Gove to break his word and launch his own campaign to become the next prime minister, leaving Boris Johnson, who he has known for decades stunned, and defeated.
Of course, only the two men really know what happened. As I write, they still have not spoken to each other.
---

Ravi: Here are my reflections on this extraordinary event where the expected future PM of Britain, Boris Johnson, dropped out of the race.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage seem to have been the lead campaigners of the Leave group. Farage is from the party, UKIP, which I believe has only one seat/MP in the UK parliament now, and so the possibility of Farage becoming the PM to implement the Leave vote is almost zero.

Boris Johnson being an MP from the Conservative party of the UK which is the party in power in Westminister, may have been the mass leader choice to be the next PM. Of course, as Johnson would have needed support of MPs to be put up as a choice to the Conservative party members, he could have, and indeed seems to have, faced stumbling blocks there.

A somewhat cynical view of the events, which surely would have some truth, is that the intellectuals/policy wonks of the Leave movement, needed the charismatic skills of Boris Johnson to win the popular vote, and so roped him in and put him up as a lead campaigner. Once the vote was won, the intellectuals/policy wonks felt that Johnson was not needed anymore and could actually be a hindrance in implementing their view of the Leave policy (may be different from what the public thought it to be). So in a very treacherous and dramatic way, they ditched Johnson at the last moment putting up his deputy, Michael Gove, who had till then shown all signs of continuing on as Johnson's deputy in the run for heading the government (PM and team), as his competitor!!! The last moment betrayal by his deputy and some other supporters, would have taken the wind out of the sails of the Johnson campaign, and perhaps being stunned by the betrayal, Johnson announced that he was not running for PM. Maybe if he had a day or two to handle the betrayal, Johnson might have rallied round and mounted a challenge to his deputy, Michael Gove, and some of his other former supporters who had now turned into supporters of his opponent, Gove.

Now the questions are:
* Are charisma and savvy political communication skills not needed while implementing Brexit?
* Can intellectuals/policy wonks alone implement Brexit?
* Will Boris Johnson and his core supporters (those who still support him) forgive and forget the treachery, and support Michael Gove if he does become PM?

My view is that the implementation of Brexit over the expected period of two years including the negotiations with the EU, will be a very politically challenging and charged period. At such a time, political charisma and mass political leader communication skills (both ways - in telling the masses what's going on, and in listening to feedback from the masses) will be vital. In my view, if the future PM's team will not be able to rope in Boris Johnson, they will feel his absence for these tasks. Intellectuals/policy wonks may be quite poor in such charisma and mass leader communication skills areas.

Given the above, perhaps it will be Theresa May who will be the next PM of UK. She was not on the Leave campaign but on the Remain campaign. However, she is said to be a Eurosceptic. It will be a little odd if a Remain campaign politician becomes the PM to implement the Leave result! I mean, people would wonder whether the Leave campaign promises will be strictly implemented.

But then one must also not forget that the referendum result was a wafer thin majority of around 4% with around 52% voting Leave and around 48% voting Remain. Can that be viewed as a mandate from the British people that all the Leave campaign promises should be fulfilled and that all the Remain campaign promises be rejected? I don't think so. It is in this context that Theresa May putting herself up as the 'Unity' candidate who will not go back on the Brexit result and so ensure that UK is out of the EU, but will also keep the Conservative party and the country together, has to be viewed as an interesting development.

Perhaps the bottom line is that whoever becomes the next PM of UK must invoke article 50 of the EU, for UK to initiate the irreversible process of leaving the EU. I think that the rest of the process including the negotiations with the EU, may not be so critical, barring the immigration from other EU countries part where I think it is clear that the Leave voters want UK to regain full control over (legal) immigration from other EU countries into the UK, and which may have some challenges in implementation if UK wants to still have some special relationship with the EU.

[I thank bbc.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

1 comment: