The shameless liar Johnson just keeps on lying

September 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm (Asshole, economics, Europe, fantasy, Jim D, nationalism, populism, Tory scum, truth)

Boris Johnson today sets out a grand vision of Britain’s “glorious” post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low regulation economy paying nothing to the EU for access to the single market.

In a 4,000-word article for the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary restates the key demand of the Leave campaign – that £350m a week currently sent to Brussels should be redirected to fund the NHS.

He says that Britain should not continue to make payments to the EU after Brexit and that ongoing membership of the European single market and customs union would make a “complete mockery” of the referendum.

Johnson’s lies are well answered here by Sam Ashworth-Hayes:

The crown jewel of Johnson’s fantasies is the lie that we will take back £350 million a week from the EU, a lot of which can be spent on the NHS. This is untrue not just because we never send the EU so much money, although this is what makes the statement a bare-faced lie. It’s not even because around half of what we actually send to the EU comes back to be spent in Britain or is counted towards our international aid target. It’s such a big lie because Brexit will knock the economy so badly that we’ll have less money to spend on our priorities not more.

What about the rest of Johnson’s vision? He wants to tackle the housing crisis, improve our infrastructure, fix our schools, become a tech powerhouse, boost scientific research and build on the strength of our universities.

Some of these ambitions, such as paying for homes, schools, infrastructure and research, will cost money, which we’ll have less of if we quit the EU. Others will be directly undermined by Brexit. Our universities are already suffering a brain drain as EU citizens no longer feel welcome. And does the foreign secretary seriously think that cutting ourselves off from the EU’s digital single market is the way to spawn tech giants?

What’s more, to pretend that EU membership prevents us from investing in homes, schools or infrastructure is outrageous scapegoating. The blame belongs with successive British governments, especially Johnson’s Conservatives.

The foreign secretary tells us airily that there are “obvious ways” in which Brexit will help tackle the housing crisis. It’s a shame that none made its way into his article. He merely notes that “there may be” ways to simplify planning and floats the idea of taxing foreign buyers before dismissing it as a bad policy. Is this really all he’s got?

Johnson says leaving the EU will mean we won’t be able to pin the blame for our own failings on Brussels. But this is not an argument for Brexit. It’s an argument to stop scapegoating the EU, a practice on which the foreign secretary has built his career.

Johnson has also identified a new scapegoat: “Young people with the 12 stars lipsticked on their faces”, who are “beginning to have genuinely split allegiances”. This phrase has a nasty history. The slur that Catholics’ true allegiance lay with Rome was used to exclude them from British politics.

The foreign secretary knows perfectly well that a person can have more than one allegiance without being any the less patriotic. He himself did not give up his American passport until 2016. The young people marching against Brexit are doing so because they do not want to see Britain weakened by this disastrous mistake. This is the most patriotic motive of all.

…and his overall “analysis” (if you can dignify his self-serving lies and bombast with that description) is taken apart in a superb editorial in today’s Observer:

Boris Johnson’s analysis of Britain’s ills is wretched nonsense. The Tories, not the EU, are to blame

Yesterday, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, published an extraordinary 4,000-word article setting out his vision of a glorious British future outside the “trusses” and regulations of Brussels. It was wrong on every count, yet was a fascinating window into the contemporary conservative mind living in a parallel universe only fleetingly in touch with reality, but which is leading the country to perdition and division. It cannot be allowed to pass uncontested and unchallenged.

Mr Johnson succeeds in blaming almost every British ill – from uninspiring training to our dilapidated infrastructure – all or in part on the failing efforts of a Brussels elite to create a federal superstate. Incredibly, he writes that once free of the EU, Britain will be able to organise, plan, build the homes and infrastructure we need, give our children skills and – bingo! – we will become glorious and rich. None of this is allegedly possible as an EU member. The new alchemy will be simplifying regulations and cutting taxes, doing trade deals as “Global Britain”, alongside boosting wages and productivity.

This, in the language of those gilded Etonians Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, is bilge and balderdash. It is true, as Johnson observes, that Britain is failing on many fronts, but to lay the blame, extending even to low wages, on unnamed EU regulations is fantastical. The blame needs to be firmly pinned on the policy framework – weak regulation, low taxation, minimal public intervention and unwillingness to invest in public infrastructure and services – which he champions.

The EU, with its readiness to offer protections for temporary workers and parents, insistence on high-quality environmental legislation, its ambitious cross-country research and development programmes and expenditure on regional development, has instead partially alleviated the great British disaster that Johnson and his Thatcherite cabal have provoked. The EU is a far more reliable deliverer of the aims to which Johnson now lays claim, but which his policy framework and philosophy cannot produce.

Thus, it is not Brussels regulations that have caused low wages, the growth of insecure freelance and gig work and the accompanying plunge in productivity growth. British labour law was enacted in Britain by politicians Johnson lionises and seeks to emulate. The increase in desperate poverty, with widespread growth of food banks, is because Conservative politicians, with Johnson as cheerleader-in-chief, have so attacked Britain’s social contract that it is mean and full of gaps. It is not Brussels regulations that have caused England to have eight of the 10 poorest regions in northern Europe. Britain’s incapacity to develop policies that spread income, work and opportunity around the country is once again minted at home.

The thought processes that lead Johnson and his ilk to blame Britain’s house-building record, dismal track record on skills and low expenditure on science on Brussels can only be wondered at. Equally, the notion that Britain is going to embrace free trade by leaving the single largest free trading bloc in the world is bewildering. There are no easy free trade deals to be done with the US, China and India that can compensate for what will be lost with Europe, which is, in any case, looking to protect its interests and salivating at the prospect of negotiating with Brexiters who have as little grasp of economic reality as Johnson. Nor is the Commonwealth going to be a soft touch. All hope to scalp a country that has chosen to isolate itself from its neighbours and friends.

In one respect, Johnson has done the country a service by his effusions, timed as much to put a marker down on his leadership ambitions while undermining his lame duck leader as making a contribution to public debate. He has at least recognised the scale of the economic and social reconstruction that has to be done, while simultaneously demonstrating that the philosophy, policy framework and upside-down vision of the “global Britain” he champions is the wrong means of achieving it.

Britain does need a wholesale refashioning of its economic and social model. Our capitalism needs to be repurposed. Rather than the shibboleth of ever lower taxation, we must think in terms of what skills, infrastructure and public services we need and then levy the taxes required. We have to declare firmly that the country is open and internationalist by remaining a member of the largest free trade area in the world. Above all, we need to restate our values. Britain is a tolerant, rule-of-law society that vigilantly ensures its economy and social structures work for all. Those are the values of the European Union, with whom we should be making common cause, not heading off for an imagined Thatcherite utopia, the cause of so much of what has gone wrong in contemporary Britain. British Thatcherites, not the EU, are the cause of our current ills.


  1. Robert R. Calder said,


    Septicember in the balled blast

    Boreas’ blast sounds in good Scots verse —
    a language into which Moliere’s L’Hypocrite
    was well translated — and now here’s big blond erse
    shown stomping along a London street

    as a voice reports his re-eructation:
    hot air from breadbasket through cavemouth cakehole
    one more explosion (at a London station
    on the gradus ad badassness of the soul )

    marks the five million daily sticking plaster
    cloud round his gaping wound, is it really true
    the sod collects that much daily at the zoo
    (Scots term for social security, the burroo)

    Sick Sittingdown the cyclical disaster,
    (If not the worst a past Lord Mayor’s turned into?).
    5,000.000 (*)illion a day, and beyond our Ken,
    how many are sweet nothings hung on behind?

    (sour nothings more like, tricks only in the mind,
    Boreus blasts when pricked with a bluntly sharp pen
    like their loud utterer poison gas balloons)…

    when he strives to count,
    count far more than your spoons!

  2. charliethechulo said,

    Yesterday’s Times editorial:

    Off the Cliff
    Britain’s future is more important than the Tory leadership soap opera. The foreign secretary’s vision for Brexit should be considered on its own merits, then rejected

    Boris Johnson is an ambitious man, and it is reasonable that his lengthy intervention into Brexit negotiations this past weekend should have been regarded as a challenge to the prime minister’s authority. Yet the Conservative Party’s internal soap opera, however diverting, is of less importance than Britain’s future. Mr Johnson is the holder of one of the great offices of state. Unlike the government of which he is a part, the foreign secretary has now expressed a clear vision not just of how Brexit negotiations should progress, but also of the future of Britain thereafter. Being not overburdened with such things at present, the British public would be well advised to consider it in detail.

    Mr Johnson’s intention is not to heal a divided nation. On the contrary, he is at pains to remind those who mourn Britain’s decision to leave the European Union that their best option is to lump it. Indeed, he goes further, suggesting that “young people with the 12 stars lipsticked on their faces” are “beginning to have genuinely split allegiances”. He is also unequivocal that Brexit must involve leaving both the single market and the customs union. A desire not to do so, he writes, “betrays a dismal lack of confidence in this country”.

    This is poor stuff. Just under half the country wished to remain in the EU. Quite a few still do. Mr Johnson’s intimation of treason shows a marked change in a politician who used to pride himself, above all, on his likeability. The foreign secretary himself was also quite recently a fan of remaining in the single market. He knows full well that those who wish to preserve existing opportunities for British businesses are no less patriotic than those who wish to shut them off. He also knows that anything less than the friction-less trade” of which ministers still often speak will come with a cost, and that no amount of rhetoric about a “glorious future” will help pay for it.

    Mt Johnson insists that Britain should not make payments in exchange for access to the single market in the future. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has previously agreed with the chancellor that such payments could, in fact, be necessary. He was also deeply unwise to resurrect the notion that Brexit could lead to Britain enjoying an extra £350 million a week, much of which could be spent on the NHS. Yesterday, Sir Davis Norgrove, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to the foreign secretary to express “surprise and disappointment” that he had done so. Since it was emblazoned onto a bus during the referendum, the figure has become a byword for political mendacity. muddling net and gross contributions, and being made up largely of money that never leaves, comes back, or would still have to go anyway. Mt Johnson cannot have been unaware of any of this. It does not reflect well on him that he cared so little.

    Few could disagree with Mr Johnson’s wish for stronger ties with Commonwealth nations, but he neglects to mention that few nations will wish to sign British trade deals without some indication of our future relationship with the EU. He insists that “our system of standards will remain absolutely flush with the rest of the EU” but also that Britain will take a lead on global de-regulation. Normally when Mr Johnson wishes to express views so mutually contradictory he at least does so in two separate articles rather than one.

    The best thing one can say about the foreign secretary’s plan for Brexit is that at least he has one. Theresa May is expected to outline her own when she speaks this week in Florence, and the fact that Mr Johnson has had this opportunity says much about the vacuum she has allowed to develop. Yet this Brexit is so hard as to be hardly any different from the “cliff edge” that many fear should negotiations collapse. This is not a sensible vision of Britain’s future. It may well be that he is more concerned about his own

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