I know I’m writing about BoJo (BoGo now?) a lot at present, but I just can’t help it. He’s popping up practically every day with some new, ill-advised piece of “wisdom”. I never thought I’d say this, but Boris is the new Corbyn.
Yesterday it was about Barack Obama. From his Telegraph column came this:
“Sometime in the next couple of months we are told that president Obama himself is going to arrive in this country, like some deus ex machina, to pronounce on the matter. Air Force One will touch down; a lectern with the presidential seal will be erected. The British people will be told to be good to themselves, to do the right thing. We will be informed by our most important ally that it is in our interests to stay in the EU, no matter how flawed we may feel that organisation to be. Never mind the loss of sovereignty; never mind the expense and the bureaucracy and the uncontrolled immigration. The American view is very clear.”
I can understand why the Leavers are annoyed at the fact that the US unequivocally wants the UK to remain in the EU. In the Venn diagram within the Conservative Party involving the circles “Eurosceptic” and “Atlanticist”, there is a massive amount of overlap. But Obama’s position will have surprised no one – the US has always been pro-EU, particularly in regards to Britain remaining a member. And yes, Boris does have a point that there is some hypocrisy involved in all this. The US, of course, would never join something like the EU (which is why NAFTA is so rubbish, for instance).
The reason is that the US sees itself as the greatest nation in the world in a way the British (or almost anyone else for that matter) find hard to genuinely fathom. To the Americans, the world is divided up into two easy to understand piles: enemies and friends. If you’re an enemy, you are to be dealt with, destroyed if possible; if you’re a friend that means by definition in their eyes you are subordinate to them. The US does not see the UK as equals but as a key employee. This didn’t begin with Blair, either: it is the way US-UK relations have been defined since the end of WWII.
One of the main rules of political campaigning is, stay away from your weak points. Every party or campaign has them, always. For the EU In campaign it’s immigration; for the the Leavers it is the uncertainty of big change. The fact that the Americans don’t want us to leave the EU is a significant subset of the Leavers main problem. Thus, Boris writing about it at length wasn’t a particularly great contribution to the debate from a Vote Leave perspective. All it will end up doing is further publicising the fact that the US doesn’t want us to leave, which is basically doing Stronger In’s work for them.
When Boris decided to support the Leavers, I was very nervous. I am much less so now. He is starting to rival Farage in terms of unhelpful messaging on the topic. While poor Carswell and Hannan bang away with their rational arguments (which I strongly disagree with, but are level headed), you now have Boris shouting about all of the stuff the campaign should be running a mile from. Yes, Boris as you yourself wrote “The American view is very clear”. It is also a view which does not help you or what you’re supposedly trying to achieve at the moment.