Boris Johnson is on the cusp of becoming the new British Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader following an initial ballot of the party’s MPs.
Johnson emerged from the first leadership ballot with a huge lead in the race, scooping up the support of 114 Tory MPs, nearly three times his nearest rival. Senior ministers are now hoping the remaining five contenders drop out to cut short a potentially bitter public leadership battle.
The campaign to succeed Theresa May has been peppered by a renewal of scandals over the past misdeeds of the contenders. Most of these revolved around drug abuse -- a majority admitted to taking drugs at some point, mostly marijuana but also including cocaine and opium. There has also been varying degrees of belligerence from the candidates on Brexit and their approach to the border through Ireland.
The process of Britain leaving the European Union is due to be completed by October 31 this year. No plan has yet been agreed for the north of Ireland, which remains set to be taken out of the EU against the wishes of those who live here. The move could lead to protests or disturbances if any attempt is made to bring back border checkpoints or patrols.
The contenders for PM have been competing for who can adopt the most hardline pro-Brexit and anti-Irish position. High on the list is former Brexit Ministre Dominic Raab, whose plan is to simply suspend Parliament and seize control of government until the Brexit deadline date has passed. Raab previously made headlines when he admitted he had no idea of the importance of seaports for the export of British goods.
New details about the politics of Environment Secretary Michael Gove have revealed how he identifies with loyalism -- he had an ‘enormous’ unionist cartoon in office and would sing Orange Order anthem ‘the Sash’. His plan for delivering Brexit is to ‘have a full stop to the backstop’, meaning that a remilitarised border would be implemented at a future date.
No better is frontrunner Boris Johnson, who has said he is ready to take Britain and the north of Ireland out of the EU in a chaotic crash Brexit on October 31, ‘deal or no deal’, despite the threat to the peace process.
He launched his bid for the Tory crown with a warning to MPs that they will face “mortal retribution” from the English electorate if they try to stop Brexit.
Johnson, a former Foreign Office Minister known for his glib insults and racist language, has previously denounced Liverpudlians as ‘people who wallow in their victim status’ and has described Islamic women who wear a burka as ‘letter boxes’.
He has dismissed concerns over the Brexit border in Ireland as ‘Y2K stuff’, comparing it to how obsolete computer systems required upgrading as the world entered the year 2000. He said the country had to be ready for a no-deal Brexit as part of “tough” new negotiations, despite the EU having already ruled that out.
“It is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously for no-deal,” he said. “After three years and two missed deadlines we must leave the EU on October 31.”
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party sought assurances from Johnson and others in relation to their confidence and supply agreement which props up the Tory government. He said a no-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome if Ireland does not accept border checks.
“I think Boris Johnson and most of the leadership contenders are clear that the problem with the withdrawal agreement is the backstop and parliament isn’t going to approve the withdrawal agreement unless those concerns are addressed,” Mr Donaldson told reporters on a visit to Dublin.
Donaldson dismissed new report which confirmed that there will be a devastating impact on the economy in the North of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard said the legal report by a European expert represented “clearly shows the hugely negative impact a no-deal Brexit would have on our local economy.
“It also shows that no solution currently exists to avoid physical infrastructure on or near the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”