Leroy N. Soetoro
2016-07-01 20:41:44 UTC
LONDON It was a scene lifted from the scripts of Shakespeare or
perhaps a binge-watching session of House of Cards.
When Thursday morning broke, Boris Johnson, the transparently ambitious
former mayor of London, was preparing to give the speech of his life one
that would vault him out of the political mayhem wrought by last weeks
referendum on the European Union and straight to the job he had long
sought: British prime minister.
But the man who was to be Johnsons campaign manager had a different idea:
Michael Gove, the bookish justice secretary who had repeatedly denied any
aspiration to higher office, was getting ready to stick a dagger into
Johnsons chances, and twist.
By days end, Britain would be reckoning with one more betrayal in a
political season full of them. This one stunned an already dazed nation,
and left no doubt, if any had remained, that Britain is divided,
directionless and leaderless as it prepares for a leap into the unknown of
life outside the E.U.
Johnson, the mop-headed rogue who had been considered the odds-on favorite
to take the keys to 10 Downing Street, has now been shunted to the
sidelines of the contest to lead the Conservative Party and, by extension,
In his place, Gove will vie with Theresa May, the no-nonsense domestic
security chief, for the privilege of running a country in the midst of an
existential crisis. The current prime minister, David Cameron, has said he
will step down by Sept. 9 after losing the campaign for Britain to remain
in the E.U.
The narrowing of the field of likely winners to Gove and May leaves behind
two candidates who are expected to drive an especially hard bargain with
the E.U., meaning the country could be in for years of contentious and
costly negotiations no matter who emerges as leader.
Johnson had been seen as a possibly more pliant figure in those talks:
Although he was the face of the campaign for leave, most observers
thought he took that stand less from a sense of ideological conviction
than from a barely concealed well of political opportunism.
In the days since the vote, he had begun to walk back the promises of
Brexit, signaling he would fold easily on immigration the leave
campaigns signature issue.
It may have been that malleability that prompted Gove, a Brexit true
believer and the campaigns intellectual architect, to undercut his ally.
Or perhaps it was just Johnsons legendary disorganization.
Either way, Gove struck like a bolt from the blue: Less than three hours
before Johnson was to declare his candidacy, Gove emailed a statement
declaring that he had come to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide
the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.
Instead, Gove wrote, he would run for prime minister himself.
Gove, who has been nearly invisible since last Thursdays vote, did not
release any detailed vision for the countrys future, which he said would
be unveiled in the coming days.
But the split in the pro-Brexit camp brought an immediate stampede of
defections, with Johnson supporters abandoning their candidate in favor of
a man who had been unceremoniously demoted to chief whip less than two
years ago and who had long insisted he was temperamentally unsuited for
Britains top job.
Later in the morning, with the clock ticking down on a noon deadline to
enter the fray, Johnson broke his silence with a speech that had all the
makings of a campaign kickoff.
He boasted of his achievements as London mayor and laid out a vision for
making Britain a fairer and more prosperous society outside the E.U.
His supporters applauded lustily. But when Johnson came to what he called
the punchline, he unleashed a stunner, saying that the country needed a
leader to take it in a new direction but that I have concluded that
person cannot be me.
The words brought tears to the eyes of his backers. But they also brought
incredulity from critics, who wondered how he could simply walk away.
Boris engineered the largest constitutional crisis in postwar history but
wont even put his name forward to clear it up? tweeted University of
Manchester political scientist Rob Ford.
Goves decision to ambush Johnson also brought immediate recriminations
from both mens corners. Asked by the BBC about Gove, Johnsons father,
Stanley Johnson, replied: Et tu, Brute is my comment on that.
Gove backer Dominic Raab told the network that Johnson had been cavalier
in his approach to the campaign. Were picking a prime minister here to
lead the country, not a school prefect, he said acidly.
Goves turning on Johnson is just the latest in a string of betrayals at
the highest reaches of British politics. Earlier this year, Johnson and
Gove spurned Cameron, their friend and sparring partner since their days
at Oxford, by campaigning for leave.
As the pro-Brexit camp splintered Thursday, May presented herself as a
unifying candidate for prime minister who, despite backing remain, could
bring together the badly fractured Conservative Party.
She was introduced Thursday by Chris Grayling, a prominent Brexiteer, and
described herself as the candidate best prepared for the tough talks ahead
with E.U. leaders, having spent years wrangling with other European
security chiefs as the countrys home affairs minister.
I have not just done it. Ive delivered on those negotiations, she said.
Despite supporting remain, May said there would be no going back.
Brexit means Brexit, she said. The country voted to leave the European
Union, and it is the duty of the government and of Parliament to make sure
we do just that.
May was considered only a reluctant E.U. backer, with a long record of
Euroskepticism and a hard line against mass immigration.
May would be the second female prime minister in British history, after
Margaret Thatcher. Mays unsmiling public persona and hard-line
conservative politics have drawn occasional comparisons to the Iron Lady.
Britains next prime minister will not be picked by the public. Instead,
he or she will be selected in a two-stage process within the governing
Conservative Party. First, the partys members of Parliament will whittle
the field down to two over the next two weeks. Then the partys rank-and-
file members will select the winner.
In addition to Gove and May, three other candidates were nominated
Thursday: Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom. All are considered
Cameron has said he will not formally trigger Britains exit and will
leave that task to his successor. Once that happens, the next prime
minister will have two years to negotiate a new deal with the E.U.s 27
Europe has already signaled that it will refuse to budge on likely British
demands that the bloc relax its rules requiring freedom of movement for
workers across national borders. European leaders say that if Britain
wants access to the single market, it will have to accept free movement.
As the political winds shifted throughout Thursday, the pound swung
between gains and losses. Overall it is down about 10 percent against the
dollar compared with where it was before the referendum.
While the pound has taken a hit, stock markets on both sides of the
Atlantic have bounced back quickly after steep declines last week. The
FTSE 100, a key index on the London Stock Exchange, climbed 2.27 percent
Thursday and has reclaimed all its losses since Brexit. So have U.S.
Britains political unrest has not been limited to the Conservatives.
The internal warfare among Tories has been matched and even exceeded
within the opposition Labour Party.
Pressure continued to build Thursday on party leader Jeremy Corbyn to
resign after what was seen as an ambivalent effort to rally party
supporters to the pro-E.U. cause.
He has already suffered an overwhelming vote of no confidence among his
Labour colleagues in Parliament, and he faced more defections Thursday.
Plans to mount a formal challenge, however, were put on hold because
mutinous members suggested they did not want to compete with news coverage
of Thursdays meltdown across the aisle.
Even by the occasionally bloody standards of British political history,
the past week has been especially laced with treachery.
You couldnt make it up, Tory member of Parliament Nigel Evans told the
BBC. It makes the House of Cards look like Teletubbies.
His Omnipotence Barack Hussein Obama, declared himself "Pooptator" of all
mentally ill homosexuals and crossdressers, while declaring where they
Obama increased total debt from $10 trillion to $19 trillion in the seven
years he has been in office, and sold out heterosexuals for Hollywood
queer liberal democrat donors.
Barack Obama, reelected by the dumbest voters in the history of the United
States of America. The only American president to deliberately import a
lethal infectious disease from Africa, Ebola.
Loretta Fuddy, killed after she "verified" Obama's phony birth
Obama ignored the brutal killing of an American diplomat in Benghazi, then
relieved American military officers who attempted to prevent said murder
in order to cover up his own ineptitude.
Obama continues his muslim goal of disarming America while ObamaCare
increases insurance premiums 300% and leaves millions without health care.
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