New U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has inherited the ongoing Brexit dilemma as well as a gradually crumbling domestic economy. Three years after the Brexit referendum to leave the European Union, almost no progress has been made, and two Prime Ministers have been pushed into resignation. Johnson faces the momentous challenge of unifying Britain’s toxic parliament for either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ exit. No incoming leader has ever walked into such a daunting set of circumstances, but Johnson brimming with confidence in his victory speech kept about-face. He said, “I think we know we can do it and the people of this country are trusting us to do it and we know that we will do it.” Whether or not this is just unsubstantiated political rhetoric is yet to be seen.
A deluge of criticism about Johnson’s ascendance has washed over media outlets around the world. Aptly the New York Times led the outcry with the headline “Boris Johnson is How Britain Ends, Not with a bang, but with a burst of blond ambition.” In tune with this negative sentiment, the Washington Post said Johnson was “known for improvisation, inattention to detail and frequent false statements.” Activist and businesswoman Gina Miller added that “It’s ironic that Mr. Johnson so proudly parades his credentials as a champion of parliamentary sovereignty, yet appears worryingly cavalier about the right of Parliament to agree to the terms of our departure from the EU. Mrs Miller continued describing the new PM’s contempt for parliamentary sovereignty as a form of ‘dictatorship’.
After winning the Conservative Party leadership contest, Johnson has less than 100 days to deliver Brexit by the October 31st deadline. Compounding his troubles, Parliament has just begun a six-week summer break. For Boris to have the faintest chance of progress he must recognize that the 2016 Brexit referendum isn’t just about the European Union. That momentous decision by the U.K. populace to leave brought forward a host of deeply seated individual concerns. Issues ranging from immigration, capitalism, and secession have all amalgamated under the umbrella of this national soul-search. Johnson is relentlessly quashing any naysaying murmurs which are anything less than optimistic. However, as confident as he may be, the pound is weak, recession risks are rising, and international relations are in disarray. Complicating matters further, the Conservatives have no majority in parliament, and are facing extreme pressure from Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Brexit parties which are neck and neck together according to recent polling figures.
Johnson immediately promised to renegotiate the “dead” and “defunct” deal his predecessor Theresa May had struck with the EU. Unfortunately, the EU has rejected his bid to reopen the divorce deal. The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier went as far as to say Johnson’s demands were “unacceptable.” In response, Johnson appears to be turbo-charging no-deal plans despite the repeated warnings coming from economists. Without a divorce deal, financial markets will be violently rattled possibly sending the world’s fifth-largest economy into chaos. London’s reputation as the epicentre of global finance is at stake.
In a meeting with Johnson, the Queen told him “I don’t know why anyone would want the job.” It’s hard to disagree with her logic. The U.K. is in limbo and tasked to fix her most controversial problem is their most controversial politician.
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