They say that you can’t keep a good man down. These days it seems a lot harder to keep a bad one down. And, as for bad women, Liz Truss is busy explaining to anyone who will listen that it wasn’t her fault she messed up quite so quickly and quite so comprehensively.
Trust in Johnson
First place on the self-deluded comeback trail must go to Boris Johnson. It takes some doing to get almost an entire cabinet of people that you have personally selected to declare that they can no longer serve in your government because you are so untrustworthy. Johnson managed to lie and cheat so casually that even some of his closest allies turned on him and forced him out of office.
After having your reputation trashed by those who know you best, any normal person would slink off into obscurity hanging their head in shame. A track record of lying to and cheating on ex-wives and girlfriends, discussing the best way to beat up a journalist, getting fined for failing to obey simple lock down rules, lying to the Queen and to the nation isn’t exactly impressive. But there he is on lucrative lecture tours pontificating about the morally right thing to do. Who’s paying for this? And why? What kind of person pays to listen to such nonsense?
The vast majority of people in Britain have never needed Johnson to tell them that they should stand firmly on the side of the Ukrainian people. We don’t need advice on opposing Vladimir Putin from the leader of a political party who took money from Putin’s cronies and who helped persuade Britain to do the one thing that Putin thought would most weaken us: leave the EU.
Everyone in Britain ought to know by now how little one can trust any commitment that Johnson makes. He will dump it the moment his own personal interest changes. He once told his Uxbridge constituency that he would lie down on the runway in front of the planes to stop a runway being built at nearby Heathrow. Now he neglects local constituency work and focuses instead on the next interview with a right-wing media outlet that wants to present him as a misunderstood visionary instead of a squalid liar.
Is Truss deluded or misunderstood?
Johnson has competition for the position of poor misunderstood failed Conservative prime minister. Truss also thinks she couldn’t possibly be to blame for her own failures. Apparently, she thinks it was all the fault of the liberal elite. In her strange world, international financial markets are driven by a left-wing conspiracy to do down anyone brave enough to adopt bold policies. In that same parallel universe, government officials are to blame for the fact that she didn’t listen to them when they tried to warn her that it might be risky to start handing out unfunded tax cuts.
In the real world, civil servants, the Bank of England and the Office of Budget Responsibility and even the president of the United States pointed out the dangers well in advance. At a time when people like Dominic Raab set the tone for treating civil servants, you can imagine how much courage it took for officials to speak out. Their advice was swept aside because it differed from what she wanted to believe.
Hard-headed markets then took one look at the actions her far-right theories had inspired and decided that they’d better sell the pound whilst they still could. The nation’s mortgage holders are less fortunate and are still paying the price every month on their huge interest rate bills. The price of servicing the national debt has similarly soared. As has the price of food, of heating and of transport.
Reality check on Brexit
Yet it isn’t just individual Conservative MPs who are proving so capable of self-delusion as their policies damage the country. The nation was promised wonderful things if it backed radical right-wing policies and voted to take Britain out of the EU. Many very well-meaning people celebrated when the Brexit vote was won, convinced that they had done their bit to make the nation great again.
The reality is soaring inflation, tumbling real wages and even nurses who put their lives on the line during the pandemic, feeling they have no alternative to striking for a living, fair wage.
But are the suspiciously well-funded Brexit campaigners taking a reality check? Instead, as their project unravels so very badly, they see the evidence and pretend that this isn’t the real Brexit, bleating shamelessly that politicians have let them down by not being sufficiently radical in implementing the grand vision.
The truth is the complete opposite. Project fear has turned out to be an underestimate of project reality. We said Brexit would be bad for the economy. Tick. We said there would be labour shortages that would force up prices. Tick. We said it would weaken Britain’s position in the world. Tick. We said there would be a race to the bottom in environmental standards and workers rights. Big tick.
Time to rejoin the EU
Without giving parliament the chance to vote on this giant destruction of British rights, the government is in the process of dumping thousands of laws that the UK made and implemented during our time in the EU. So much for parliamentary democracy. So much for being able to continue to trade easily with Europe.
When you are in a hole the usual advice is to stop digging and get out. Not slowly and gradually after digging a slightly bigger hole. But quickly before the sides fall in on you.
It is time for our country to reject the failed politicians who excelled at nice promises but made life worse for ordinary people. It is also time for us to get serious about stopping the day in day out damage that Brexit is doing to our country before it is too late. Rejoin.