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Two great battles ahead for Boris

Lord Digby | Published:

SO BORIS made it. He’s fulfilled his lifetime ambition and moved into Number 10.

Boris Johnson. (Picture by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock)

Was it ever in doubt?

Well, I’m on the record as stating that if he was in the top two in the Tory MPs’ vote he would walk it with the Tory membership but he would never be one of the chosen two at Westminster, given his unpopularity in the parliamentary party. So what do I know?

In my defence, I was not accounting for the new existence of the Brexit Party and its brilliant showing in the European elections. Those Tory MPs looked at their constituency majorities being divided by Farage et al, thus giving those keys to the Black Door to Corbyn by default, and so voting for Boris became a contagious job-preservation scheme.

It is no secret that the Blonde Bombshell’s hero is Churchill, a successful wartime leader but a comparatively poor peacetime prime minister. Those who voted for Boris (and, it has to be said, many more in the UK) are looking for those same successful leadership qualities in the two great battles ahead – but his abilities to deliver rewards in ‘peacetime’ are questionable.

Let us hope that, like Ronald Reagan in the White House, he surrounds himself with clever results-deliverers.

Johnson’s first task is to deliver for the people the thing that the political class has denied them for three years: Brexit. He faces formidable opposition.

Corbyn and his courtiers have put party ambition first, second and third, with the country taking the hindmost.

The Liberal Democrats are a contradiction in nomenclature: what on earth is democratic about campaigning against the stated will of the electorate in an exercise in .... er ... democracy? They say that the British people never voted to be poorer. Well, Cameron’s government spent £9.4m. of taxpayers’ money spelling it out before the referendum. Putting freedom ahead of economic risk is a British trait.

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Some Tory MPs are so committed to Remain that they are signalling they will act to bring on a general election and thus rather risk a hard-left, confiscatory, hate-fuelled, anti-US, anti-Nato, anti-capitalism government than support a Conservative one which delivered Brexit.

And that’s before he talks to the unaccountable, unelected bullies in Brussels. Putting right in three months the last three years of sabotage and faffing about is a tall order.

Stating that the UK will leave on 31 October whatever, even if there is no deal, is brave but essential. Preparing and spending money to do so is exactly what we should have been doing for the past three years.

It is telling that Barnier, the EU negotiator, said the other day that not once in all the negotiations had anyone from the British side mentioned leaving with no deal. All he had to do was keep saying no and the Remainers and the Establishment Elite kept increasing the price we would have to pay. How to negotiate on the British side ... not.

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Now Brussels is worried, for it desperately does not want to be blamed for a no-deal. It would be an economic disaster for the EU in many ways and only now is that reality sinking in. The EU is losing its second-largest member; the UK makes budget contributions equal to 19 small members combined. Britain is Germany’s biggest trading partner. They badly need a deal. Oh, and a question for Brussels ... if neither the Irish government nor the UK one will put soldiers or police on the Irish border, then who will? The Eurocrats? Your call, Monsieur.

Why can’t so many MPs understand you can never ever win a negotiation when the other side knows you’ll never walk away?

So Boris championing The People against The Politicians? We’re in for an interesting few weeks.

And his other battle? A general election pitching democratic capitalism against the most hard-left and hate-driven party the country has ever seen as an alternative government.

He needs to win the battle for ideas:

. He hasn’t said he’d cut taxes directly for the highest paid, but he has said a head teacher of a London comprehensive should not be paying top-rate income tax. He wants to raise the threshold at which people pay the 40% rate from £50,000 to £80,000.

. He needs to get the general electorate to understand that 29.6% of all income tax revenue is paid by the top 1% of taxpayers and 50.1% is paid by the top 5%. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and his stated aim to destroy capitalism needs to be called out for the wealth and tax revenue destroyer he is.

. But the problem is that 43% of the British electorate in 2015 paid no tax at all. Indeed, the bottom 50% of those in work pay just 9.2% of all income tax collected. Millions aren’t anti-wealth but increased taxation is of no interest to them. So the accent has to be on the Marxist taxation of self-improvement and aspiration and (by confiscation of 10% of all companies employing more than 250 people, imposing a wealth tax and increasing corporation tax to globally uncompetitive levels) the destruction of the creation of the very wealth that produces the tax that pays for schools and hospitals.

. A credible threat that must be rammed home hard to would-be Labour voters is that the milch cow will just up sticks and go to where it is welcome. The wealthy will exercise choice and leave. There has already been a 6,000 drop in high-net-worth individuals residing in the UK in the last year. That is bad for not only that middle-income head teacher but also the payer of lower rate income tax who will eventually have to take the strain of an experiment born in Das Kapital.

. The abject failure (some would say, intentionally so) of Labour high command to deal with the disgusting anti-semitism rife in a once-great party needs to be highlighted again and again. Moderate Labour MPs need to be persuaded that they simply cannot knock on doors in an election campaign begging people to vote for the current party leadership with all its hate-filled baggage and economy-destroying policies.

. Boris should junk the old mantra of the Tories calling for a smaller State in people’s lives. The world has changed and so have the expectations of (especially younger) voters. As Dominic Cummings, the PM’s senior adviser, has said, the State needs to be reformed not reduced in size. Better delivery, more focused spending (both geographically and sectorally) and more help with new, not recycled, money are the creeds that should be trumpeted everywhere.

And as for Boris’s ability to deliver in peacetime? I have my doubts; once the smoke and noise of conflict recede and dodging the muck and bullets is for yesterday, I fear our prime minister will realise how little global power he actually has and ennui will set in. That’s when he’ll need excellent advisers across the spectrum of government – and he’ll need to do what they advise.

I wish the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip all the good fortune in the world as he embarks on two enormous and vitally important projects. The country cannot afford for him to fail – the entire business community, every Conservative MP and those in the centre political ground should get behind him.

As readers will know, I have never belonged to a political party in my life and don’t intend to start. Moreover I supported Jeremy Hunt in the leadership election. But I respect the expression of democratic will – it’s a pity so many others in such serious matters don’t.

The alternative to Brexit on 31 October would be the exercise of tyranny by parliament. The alternative to Boris Johnson winning a general election would bring disaster to the country more quickly than you can say ‘Venezuela’.

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