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Britain's Trump is now its Prime Minister

From The Detail

Is he a Trump twin, or is he following in the footsteps of his hero, Winston Churchill?

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Guardian journalist James Murray says Boris Johnson wears the hat that works, depending on what he’s trying to achieve.

“When he was London mayor he was a one-nation Tory and when he was leading the leave campaign he was completely the opposite.

“Boris’s roguish persona is something that he crafted for himself when he was at school. He had Turkish heritage that he was teased for and this posh English bumbling kind of character was something that he created to try and protect himself from criticism. Over his entire career he’s been given a lot of leeway because of that personality. Mistakes he’s made, the dishonesty he’s been accused of, to some degree he’s been able to ride past that because of this is the sort of privileged persona and background that he had.”

Murray says if a different politician had made the same mistakes their career would be over.

Instead, Johnson is now the UK's Prime Minister.

Despite Johnson cheerleading the Brexit campaign, it’s still not clear where Britain’s future lies under his leadership.

Murray says one of the problems he might have is the incredibly low reputation he has in the EU thanks to his exaggerations and lies on the ‘leave’ campaign. “That might scupper him.

“One issue he’s going to have is that he’s going to have to go to Europe and try to charm people and persuade people to at least give him some sort of concession that he can sell to Parliament. A major concession is extremely unlikely, but he might get some sort of ‘lipstick on a pig’ type deal he might be able to swing some Brexit-supporting Labour MPs towards and some people in his own party just to avoid a no-deal situation.”

There are several scenarios that might play out.

“Brussels could offer some sort of minor concession, he could possibly scrape it through Parliament with the help of Labour MPs and maybe he tries for a general election in the spring. That seems a highly unlikely scenario.

“It might be that the more moderate members of his own party join with the opposition to call a vote of no confidence and we get a no-deal Brexit occurring.

“I think the suggestion that he might suspend Parliament probably won’t happen because it would face such opposition from MPs.”

Things could change if the Tories lose a by-election in August in Brecon, which would reduce the Conservative Party’s majority to two and make a no-confidence bid easier.

Another option is that he does take Britain out of the EU on the 31 October deadline and there will be some sort of rough extension on trading terms.

“The problem is,” says Murray, “he’s been brought into power on the back of lots of very hard-core Brexit supporters and that might not be enough for them.”

He says if his own MPs pull the plug on him he could face the ignominy of being the shortest serving Prime Minister of all time.

The Detail today looks at Johnson's past, his personality - and the Kiwi cheerleader who describes him as 'visionary'.

Made possible the RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund


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