The cost of Boris Johnson’s invocation of the cartoons and a feud with France – .

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The cost of Boris Johnson’s invocation of the cartoons and a feud with France – .


Cartoon characters are commonly referred to in British politics these days. Delivering a speech to sober business leaders, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked if they had visited a theme park based on the Peppa Pig cartoon (they had not).

In a poll for The temperature newspaper, less than a third of voters said Boris Johnson was competent and only a fifth thought he was decisive. When asked which cartoon character the Prime Minister looked most like, Homer Simpson was a name that came up. Labor leader Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson was a “run-of-the-mill” man. To be sure, Mr Johnson’s lack of seriousness repeatedly strikes at the deep gravity of so many of the problems facing his government and the country; from a new variant of the coronavirus to the death of those who risk their lives at sea to come to the United Kingdom.

The resulting row with France over responsibility for the deaths is counterproductive and also confirms Mr Johnson’s lack of seriousness. He sent a letter to the French president but posted the content on Twitter before Emmanuel Macron had a chance to read it.

Peter Ricketts, former UK Ambassador to France, has advised UK governments for many decades. Ricketts pointed out that this was “very bad handling” on Mr Johnson’s part and that the contents of the letter were even worse. “Posting it with a boastful tone of ‘I’ve been right all along’ is pretty much guaranteed to get that response from the French,” he said.

By “this response”, Ricketts meant the anger of the French government and the cancellation of a trip by British Home Secretary Priti Patel to France to discuss with European leaders, led by Mr. Macron, about the best way to stop the criminal gangs behind human trafficking.

There are a lot of intertwined issues here. Even some of his own Conservative Party colleagues have noted that the British Prime Minister lacks attention to detail, despite having many advisers who understand the common courtesies due to friendly foreign leaders. Mr Johnson seems to have ignored them.

The key – but often unspoken – problem is that the Johnson administration is desperate to prove to British voters that, despite all the evidence, leaving the EU is a success. This means that every failure – in border controls, migration, trade, investment or Northern Ireland – must be blamed on the EU. This has deteriorated Britain’s relations with its neighbors. As Brexit is based on the “resumption of control” of British borders, it is strange that France is now held responsible for their control.

The Johnson administration is desperate to prove to British voters that despite all the evidence leaving the EU is a success

In the midst of a difficult re-election campaign, Mr Macron has been offered political gold – the opportunity to position himself as standing up to a British prime minister, who is generally not respected outside of his ranks. own supporters of the Conservative Party – and not always even by them either. Mr Johnson, however, appears to be sensing his own opportunity, at least among Brexit voters.

In English politics, feuds with France and Ireland have often been helpful to some politicians to encourage chauvinistic newspaper articles waving flags. Historically, Scotland and Ireland, unlike England, have often had much warmer relations with France. The Scots sometimes refer to the “Auld Alliance” (the Old Alliance), which has often caused Scotland and its monarchs, including Mary Queen of Scots, to side with France in its many struggles against France. ‘England.

For a glimpse of this bizarre ending to English politics, readers may remember Conservative MP and UK government minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, comparing Brexit to the old Anglo-French wars: ‘We have to reiterate the benefits of Brexit ! “Mr. Rees Mogg said in October 2017.” Oh, this is so important in the history of our country … It’s Waterloo! It’s Crécy! It’s Azincourt! We earn all of these things! Crécy (a battle in 1346) and Azincourt (1415) were uniquely English affairs against France in conflict and occupation, which ended when English troops were finally defeated and expelled from French soil. The Battle of Waterloo (1815) was won by the Duke of Wellington, born in Ireland. His victory came, as he admitted, only after Prussian troops from northern Germany turned the battle in favor of Britain.

It’s hard to see why any English politician would compare these battles to the 21st century loss of 4% of Britain’s gross domestic product caused by Brexit. Perhaps this strikes a chord among paleoconservatives, constantly referring to the once-glorious past, but it doesn’t seem to encourage rational thinking about our problems in the present or clarity about a better future. There are no easy answers to the question of migration and asylum, but two things are obvious. First, global problems such as asylum require international solutions. Second, the poor or those displaced by conflict, repression or climate change will inevitably want to move on to a better and safer life, whether through the US border with Mexico or to Europe or Australia.

As for me, I have, over the years, watched several episodes of Peppa Pig on TV. What I remember is a chubby, good-natured cartoon character who understands the value of empathy and cooperation. Our children learn that these are virtues.

Posted: 30 Nov 2021, 05:00 AM

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