Is Boris Johnson the wrong person for the job to lead a country in distress?

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With the landslide result of the 2019 early general election in his pocket, Boris Johnson was ready to start working on his personal agenda for the United Kingdom. Although his upbeat can-do speeches are always chaotic and occasionally tend to contradict what he said previously, sometimes even during the same speech, he managed to define 3 objectives as his mandate ‘from the British people’.

1. Get Brexit done and reel in those wonderful trade deals with the entire world which apparently was just waiting for the United Kingdom to finally leave the European Union, or at least we were expected to believe that because the slogan ‘trade deals are up for grabs’ was all over the place. Almost as omnipresent as that other slogan about funding the NHS with 330m per week…

2. Unite the United Kingdom which was and is very necessary because a decade of Conservative Party rule has drawn deep tranches between classes and countries within the Union, and brought the United Kingdom at the edge of conflict with the European Union about things like Human Rights, minimum wages, equal rights for legal immigrants and minorities, which ‘coincidently’ were also major topic in the Brexit campaign, besides funding the NHS of course.

3. Build back the United Kingdom as a thriving economy and world power, a partner and ally the world would look up to, a role the United Kingdom had lost which according to Boris Johnson was, as it always is, solely to blame on the Labour Party despite the fact that his Conservative Party has been in charge for the past decade.

The first victory was in the books before the country realized what it means to have Boris Johnson as PM without any opposition to consider. The Brexit withdrawal agreement was finally approved by the British parliament, a hurdle which all previous attempts could not take. Boris did it! Analysts around the world and the first critics in his own party, mainly backbenchers nobody was paying any attention to, quickly came to the conclusion that the allegedly ‘oven ready withdrawal deal’ was in fact less than the deals his predecessor had agreed with Brussels but were all torpedoed by the British parliament. Fun fact: Boris Johnson had been a very active contributor to getting those deals torpedoed.

But this deal, the ‘oven ready’ Johnson deal was great and approved. ‘Now is not the time to look back, now is not the time to criticize this great deal. We have to move forward and focus on bringing in all those trade deals which are up for grabs. The world has been waiting for this moment, Great Britain has been waiting for this moment, the people of the United Kingdom have been waiting for this moment.’ [sic]. That is the Boris Johnson as we know him and apparently the vast majority of the UK loves him for that, or at least they did at the moment of the general election.

Despite his call to move forward and not look at the real content of his ‘oven ready’ and now binding withdrawal agreement, critics within his own party continued to analyze the true meaning of this deal and found a significant issue. The ‘backstop’ proposal in the previous draft to create a framework that embraces the Good Friday Agreement without hindering the economy of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and ‘neighboring’ the Republic of Ireland, was significantly downsized in this agreement which had entered into binding international law with the ratification by both sides. What to do?

‘Now is not the time’ was not really accepted and a push started to do at least something. And that is something Boris does not appreciate unless he can somehow turn it into a Johnson victory. It took a while to come up with a plan, but he did find the ‘solution’ to solve his own failures without even remotely admitting that he failed. The Internal Market Bill mopped up his Brexit withdrawal agreement omissions with his growing frustration about not being the undisputed powerhouse in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, aka ‘The United Kingdom under the mighty Rule of England’ and some other binding legislation which according to Johnson needed to be revised to enable the ‘Build Back Better’ strategy.

Parliament tried to stop this, even a good amount of Conservative Party members opposed this bill, but it got passed anyway. The parliamentary hearing about this bill showed two very important side effects of what has happened in the first year since Boris Johnson won the general elections with an overwhelming majority. Living up to his reputation of never answering critical questions, and when making a statement in response to a question, doing so by combining half-truths and obvious lies followed by vicious attacks on the Labour Party, Johnson demonstrated that accountability does not and will not apply to him and bullying continues to be his preferred way of ‘leadership’. Uniting the country? Just a slogan, never mind…

After messing up the ‘oven ready’ withdrawal agreement and attempting to bully the European Union in accepting a trade deal on his terms, which they understandably declined over-and-over again, Johnson managed to reach a trade deal with Japan. The only one so far, out of all those trade deals which were apparently ‘up for grabs’ and analyzing the text of that trade deal makes one thing crystal clear: this deal is highly depending on a trade deal with the European Union… Apart from some minor British exports and service agreements, the deal mainly focusses on imports from Japan for the Japanese owned car brands in the UK and exports of products which need parts from EU countries. Delivering on the agreed volumes and conditions without a trade deal with the EU might as well trigger the next ‘this is not the time, we have to move forward’ response from Boris Johnson!

But what about all those other trade deals which were ‘up for grabs’? Each and every other potential trade partner understands that negotiating the terms of a trade deal only makes sense once the terms of trade with the European Union are clear. A look at UK’s trade balance makes crystal clear that whether or not there is a trade deal with the EU determines the capabilities of the UK to trade under any conditions with others. Crystal clear for everyone but apparently not for Boris Johnson…

What about uniting the four countries in the United Kingdom? The call for independence in Scotland and Northern Ireland can hardly be overheard and has only became louder since Boris Johnson is in power. Even Wales is objecting against his attempted power grabs and ‘England first’ policies. But credit must be given were credit is due, Boris Johnson succeeded in uniting Great Britain in one area: the aversion of Boris Johnson and everything he stands for. His approval ratings are plummeting across the board, even in his own party.

We could of course blame this all on the COVID pandemic and it should be little to no surprise that Boris Johnson attempts to use this as an excuse for his failures. The economy is deflating like no other country in Europe, and the spread and death toll of the coronavirus exceed every other country in Europe too. Nobody will deny that the pandemic has impact on the current and future problems within the United Kingdom. Possibly only Boris Johnson and his swindling group of supporters will deny that the negative impact soared significantly due to his chain of failures as leader of a country in distress. This is not just an economical crisis, and also not a healthcare crisis.

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This is beyond anything else a leadership crisis! ‘Build Back’ appears to have become ‘Build Backwards’ and Boris Johnson failed the test as leader in all 8 fields that define leadership!

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Dad, consultant, coach, speaker, author. Mainly Cyber Security, leadership, responsible tech and organizational change. https://johannesdrooghaag.com

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