Not even 24 hours has passed that Boris Johnson is Prime Minister and an outpouring of unhappy disbelief has already captured the chattering classes. From comparisons of Mr. Johnson to President Trump, cherry-picking old quotes out of context to Anna Soubry's declaration that the "hard-right" have taken over the Conservative Party, those of us with more nuance wonder if people have lost their marbles.
Boris is no far-right reactionary. With the exception of Brexit, he is as cosmopolitan a centrist liberal as you can get within Tory ranks. His record speaks for itself. Relatively pro-immigration, liberal on most contentious social issues and once a happy advocate of the European Single Market, you could only really expect the standard leftist criticism of his support for austerity (as Jo Swinson is now finding out). The attempt to portray him as a populist Frankenstein is a relatively new narrative—so why then this collective mobilisation to demonise him?
There are two key reasons for this hysteria. First, the left’s long march towards the monopolisation of offence is succeeding. The all-encompassing contagion that is political correctness can’t fathom anyone who isn’t unconditionally woke. That Boris is capable of light-hearted banter like 99.9% of normal people offends the censorial sensibilities of the sensitive. Obviously, the occasional use of colourful metaphors is not necessarily a reflection of broader ideology, but for eternal virtue-signallers such supposed verbal misdemeanours makes you a Nazi. This totalitarian mindset is not open to compromise, the best way to combat it is to offend their farcical censors anyway and do it with glee—that’s why the premiership of Boris is a welcome development.
Second, Johnson has positioned himself as an unflinching Eurosceptic willing to leave even if it means leaving with no deal. The flaw of his predecessor was to (initially, anyway) talk tough but walk weak. Actions speak louder than words, if serious preparations are made to Brexit on WTO terms in an orderly way then EU negotiators will pay attention. In early 2018 Donald Tusk offered a free trade agreement to the UK, demonstrating flexibility, it was our silly Remainer facing cabinet and civil service which rejected it and went for the unworkable Withdrawal Agreement that would enable the de-facto annexation of Northern Ireland. What is common sense to Boris and many in the country however is unacceptable for most MPs, stuck in their vapid echo-chambers, believing the “facts” of those who were wrong about joining the euro as well as wrong about the immediate macroeconomic consequences of a leave vote.
The combination of Boris’s anti-PC plain speak and aim to leave the EU in a dignified way has spawned an avalanche of immensely bitter personalised vitriol which can only be described as Boris Derangement Syndrome. Brace yourselves for all sorts of hyperbole, many a number of outlandish comparisons to historical and present evils alongside aggressive character attacks. With some resilience, hopefully the new Prime Minister will weather this and fulfil his ultimate promise by October 31st.