Johnson as Prime Minister marks, well and truly, the end of Britain’s expansion, and is proof that it now only looks inwards.

Jason Norwood-Young

When I wrote “Finally the UK has the leader it deserves…” on the Facebooks in response to Boris Johnson’s PMship, the responses ranged from “Harhar” to “WTF?”

So I wrote a bit of an explainer on my original statement, which I will now reprint for you here, because as an experienced journo-slash-coder, I never miss the opportunity to use the same content twice:

`Since there have been a few “Whadayamean?” comments, I’ll try and explain my position:

`My post has (for me) two meanings. It might have a different meaning to you, which is fine. It might even have no meaning to you, which is fine too.

`The first is that I think Brexit is the dumbest, stupidest, self-harming, myopic, idiotic, and downright insane decision made by a country in the last 10 years. Dumber than voting in Trump. Boris Johnson, however, I don’t believe is dumb. He’s self-serving, a megalomaniac, and a walking disaster, but he realised that he only had one route to Prime Minister: to pretend to back a totally crazy position of leaving the EU, even though he privately didn’t believe in it. He would never get what he wanted by working with the system, so he blew up the system and made sure he was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the fallout. So Boris deserves his success because he very bravely played a super-long-odds bet, and made it work.

`The second meaning is more karmic — the English have been the beneficiaries of outright theft and pillaging, building their empires on the sweat and blood of their colonies. (I say this as a British descendent brought up in South Africa, a direct beneficiary of the empire, and very aware of the advantages that has afforded me, at the cost of my non-white neighbours.) After leaving those colonies bankrupt and destitute (and don’t come here with a Helen Zille argument), I take some schadenfreude at the thought of the final nail in the coffin for the British Empire. Johnson as Prime Minister marks, well and truly, the end of Britain’s expansion, and is proof that it now only looks inwards. (Brexit underlines this shift.) The cultural and militaristic expansions are at an end, and they’d be bloody lucky to hold on to Scotland and Northern Island. 

`In answer to the argument: “The British didn’t vote for him!”, is a bit of a lame excuse by those embarrassed by this boor becoming the unlikely head of a once-glorious country. (I don’t blame them for being embarrassed.) However, their countrymen did vote for Brexit; they did vote for the Torries. They voted Nigel Farage into the EU Parliament for Christsake. If you are British and find this all inexplicable, perhaps you don’t know your neighbours as well as you thought.

`Empires rise. Empires fall. And that makes hell of a good media, especially in the falling. Both Johnson and Donald Trump make excellent TV (and even better social media); they are perfect figureheads of our age; walking memes; divisive, racist, sexist, shallow, self-serving, egotistical, and incredibly entertaining. On a global level, Trump and Johnson are the leaders we all deserve, having traded our freedom for entertainment a long time ago, happily selling our privacy to get birthday reminders and Likes and actually believing we have 300 friends.`


`In answer to the argument: “The British didn’t vote for him!”, is a bit of a lame excuse by those embarrassed by this boor becoming the unlikely head of a once-glorious country. (I don’t blame them for being embarrassed.) However, their countrymen did vote for Brexit; they did vote for the Torries. They voted Nigel Farage into the EU Parliament for Christsake. If you are British and find this all inexplicable, perhaps you don’t know your neighbours as well as you thought.

`Empires rise. Empires fall. And that makes hell of a good media, especially in the falling. Both Johnson and Donald Trump make excellent TV (and even better social media); they are perfect figureheads of our age; walking memes; divisive, racist, sexist, shallow, self-serving, egotistical, and incredibly entertaining. On a global level, Trump and Johnson are the leaders we all deserve, having traded our freedom for entertainment a long time ago, happily selling our privacy to get birthday reminders and Likes and actually believing we have 300 friends.`

Image: “Boris” by Raymond Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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