Boris Johnson and the mystery of leaving Europe

TEHRAN, Jul. 16 (MNA) – Boris Johnson has become a controversial politician in Britain in recent days. Many UK analysts believe that Boris Johnson himself does not know exactly what he wants to do with the EU's exit plan!

Johnson's contradictory statements and stances have strengthened this trend. In any case, even if Johnson is present at the head of the British political and administrative equations, it would seem that we are witnessing a more complicated political situation in this country. Here are some of the latest analyzes and news on Boris Johnson:

Boris Johnson admits he doesn’t know his own Brexit plan

As Metro reported, Boris Johnson had to admit he didn’t know his own plans on Brexit during an interview on his strategy for leaving the EU without a deal. The Tory leadership frontrunner came unstuck, when questioned about further details on how the UK would trade with the EU after Brexit, in a bruising interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil. Mr. Johnson believes Britain can use a rule known as ‘GATT 24’ to maintain trade with the EU, if we leave the bloc without a deal on October 31. He told Mr. Neil he’d secure a ‘standstill’ trade arrangement using Paragraph 5(B) of Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Mr. Johnson said: ‘It might be possible, as we come out, to agree under GATT 24 paragraph 5B that both sides agree to a standstill, a protraction of their existing zero tariffs, zero quota arrangements, until such a time as we do a free trade deal. However, paragraph 5(C) – which comes straight afterward – makes it clear the policy can’t be used for a No Deal Brexit. It states that a ‘plan and schedule’ must already be in place to form a customs union or free trade area, ‘within a reasonable length of time.’ But Mr. Johnson has continued to insist that he could pursue the plan, despite experts and the Governor of the Bank of England saying it is impossible. He also mocked Mr. Neil during the interview who misstated the GATT 24 rule by saying: ‘Article 5B in GATT 24’, to which Mr. Johnson replied: ‘Paragraph 5B. Article 24. Get the detail right. Get the detail right Andrew!’ However, his teasing backfired as Mr. Neil immediately replied: ‘And how would you handle Paragraph 5C?’
Also, Cnn reported that Boris Johnson's sister once said that as a child, he wanted to be "World King" when he grew up. Now one of the most divisive politicians of his generation is just days away from fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming the United Kingdom's prime minister if polls are to be believed. The result of the governing Conservative party's leadership contest might not be announced until July 23, but at this point, virtually no one believes that his opponent, Jeremy Hunt, can turn around the Johnson juggernaut. The crucial question being asked in the UK, at a critical moment in the nation's history, is what exactly drives the man most likely to lead the country in under two weeks? The best way to answer this question is to understand exactly why he is so divisive. 

First, there's his personal style. Johnson's chaotic way of doing politics offends as much as it enthralls. He has a history of making seemingly thoughtless comments, such as saying that women who wear Islamic face veils look "like letter boxes" or calling people from the British Commonwealth "flag-waving piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles."Nicky Morgan, a Conservative Member of Parliament and former Cabinet minister, see how this could be a hindrance for Johnson when he takes office and has to face an electorate beyond his own party."I think he recognizes now that what he says causes a reaction," says Morgan. "He will still be asked about comments he's made in the past and he probably wants to move on. But the fact is in today's era, it's hard to move on."

But he can also be charming and makes great efforts to win people over -- especially in person. Harry Mount, a journalist who used to edit Johnson's columns when he was a star writer at the Daily Telegraph, explains that Johnson is "great at making you feel good in public." Despite not having worked together for more than a decade and never really have been his boss, Mount says that to this day, Johnson "greets me with a 'cripes, it's my boss,' which is flattering for me as strangers think 'the bald guy must be powerful.'"

Hero of the Brexiteers
This ability to flatter and make others feel liked goes some way to explaining how Johnson managed to win two terms as mayor in London, where voters historically tilt toward the UK's center-left Labour party. Second, there's his politics -- and his political ambition. Johnson played a decisive role in making Brexit happen. In 2016, under immense pressure from the then-prime minister David Cameron to back the Remain campaign, Johnson broke ranks and backed Brexit at the last minute. This has made him the hero of the Brexiteers.

"Boris has that undefinable quality of leadership. He can persuade people to back him and go in a direction that they may not have initially supported," says Jacob Rees-Mogg, a longstanding Euroskeptic and Johnson supporter. "Only someone with his kind of optimism can get people behind Brexit."

But others think that Johnson's decision to lead the Brexit campaign was nothing more than a deliberate political move. Morgan, a Remain supporter, explains that the suspicion among some is Johnson "did this knowing that it would potentially, eventually, burnish his leadership credentials."It's no secret that ending up in high office was always Johnson's aim. Mount says "it was always clear that he saw journalism as a ringside seat for the main contest, which he wanted to star in."

It's this naked ambition that brings us to the third and most important reason that Johnson divides opinion: his personal qualities, morality, and suitability to do the job.

"The truth about Boris is that he works extremely hard. He gets up at 5 a.m., devours newspapers and would be on the phone by 6:30 a.m. wanting to discuss the day," says Guto Harri, who served as Johnson's director of communications while he was London mayor. "His approach is very much like a journalist. He cuts to the chase very quickly, spotting the relevant detail and seeing the wood from the trees."

This is not a characterization that Simon Heffer, under whom Johnson worked at the Telegraph, agrees with. "He's utterly selfish, completely oblivious to the sensitivities and needs of others and entirely unprofessional," Heffer recalls.

"We saw this when he was mayor and he needed numerous deputies because either he was too lazy, not capable, or couldn't be bothered with the detail of what was required to do the job properly."

Two very different views of the same person. However, it's entirely possible that both are true. "It's wrong to say he has a short attention span or that he's lazy. Give him a difficult bit of ancient Greek and he's happy as Larry," explains Mount. "It's the important stuff he finds boring and that will be difficult. He's not going to fall over and hit the nuclear button with his arm. But he does get bored and he doesn't do boring."

That's the chaotic bit; the altogether more troubling question for some is on the moral values of a man on the precipice of power.

There's no shortage of stories about Johnson, from lurid allegations about his personal life, including affairs, to being sacked from an early journalism job for fabricating a quote. Perhaps worst of all, a recording exists of Johnson appearing to be complicit in a plot to have a journalist beaten up. The allegations prompted BBC journalist Eddie Mair to accuse Johnson of being a "nasty piece of work" to his face in an interview. In the interview with Mair, Johnson brushed off or dismissed the allegations, though was indirect in his responses.

During his time as foreign secretary, Johnson's loose words were used as proof by Iran that jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had engaged in "propaganda against the regime." Johnson later publicly apologized in the House of Commons, saying that his comments should have been clearer.

Another example of Johnson's questionable decision-making came earlier this week when he failed to defend Kim Darroch, the UK's ambassador to Washington, following the leak comments in which Darroch was critical of US President Donald Trump. It has since emerged that Johnson's lack of support prompted Darroch to resign.

"When you look at the appalling response he gave to the Kim Darroch question, you see how lacking in integrity and leadership he is," Heffer says. "To say Johnson's character is deeply flawed is like saying water is slightly wet. If he becomes prime minister he will be the man most deficient in probity ever to hold the post."

CNN reached out to Johnson's team for comment multiple times but did not receive a reply.

How Johnson may win

How can it be then, that a man so divisive is trouncing his rival so spectacularly?

One word: Brexit. The UK has been stuck in its Brexit crisis for over three years now. Jacob Rees-Mogg blames this failure on a government that has been dominated by people whom he suspects never really wanted to leave the EU. "To deliver Brexit needs a Brexiteer," Rees-Mogg explains.

"There are two approaches. One is that Brexit is a problem to be managed. Then there's the Boris approach, which is that Brexit is a huge opportunity."

The single biggest reason Brexit hasn't happened yet is that the UK's political class can't decide what it wants. The Withdrawal Agreement -- commonly called May's Brexit deal -- failed to satisfy both the Europhile and Euroskeptic wings of not only the Conservatives but across the lawmakers that sit in the UK's House of Commons, who need to ratify any deal with Europe.

Given that May has been governing without a parliamentary majority since the 2017 election, this lack of consensus meant that, without a compromise from Brussels or buying off opposition votes, May's deal was always doomed.

MNA/TT

News Code 147719

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