Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
At slightly past the designated time on Tuesday the 23rd of July 2019, Boris Johnson was announced as the newly elected leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, and the following day, he was confirmed as Prime Minister. To get the details of the vote out of the way, he won 66.4% of the votes from a massive 86.4% turnout. Around 92,000 (of about 160,000) members of the Conservatives voted for him, instead of Jeremy Hunt. This certainly indicates that Boris Johnson has a strong mandate from the party.
What were his key campaign promises? Firstly, he promised that a no-deal Brexit was a million-to-one chance, but that he would leave the EU (with or without a deal) for definite by the 31st October. Secondly, Johnson pledged to cut the taxes of those earning £50,000/annum or more by moving the 40p PAYE tax bracket to £80,000/annum instead. Thirdly, he vowed to put 20,000 police officers back on to the streets. Fourthly, he would introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system. Finally, he kept May’s aim of carbon neutrality by 2050.
So, let us analyse how those promises have held up insofar, and what I think of them. Firstly, he wants to definitely leave the EU by the 31st October at the latest, with or without a deal, and he has not ruled out for certain proroguing parliament to do so. Proroguing Parliament, in my view, is entirely against the premise of Brexit (as Parliament needs to take back control, our laws should be made by our Parliament) and against the fundamental rule of law, and against democracy. Further to this, Michael Gove, in his new role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has confirmed that the new Johnson-led government is assuming that the country will leave the EU without a deal – so much for “a million-to-one”.
How about his promise of billions of pounds of tax cuts for those earning from £50,000/annum? Rather conveniently, this range includes his own salary as an MP (£79,468) and the earnings from his Telegraph columns. This also came with no mention of a well costed alternative to raise enough funds for state spending, such as on the NHS (anyone for a bit of irony?) or education, which suggest further cuts and further austerity.
While I welcome the promise of 20,000 police officers being reintroduced across the country, I would like to note that this is precisely the number of police officers that were cut down by the government of Theresa May. Therefore, I am slightly cynical as to how fantastic this promise actually is.
What exactly does an ‘Australian-style‘ immigration system mean? We already have a points-based immigration system – which one hopes that Johnson, a former foreign secretary, would know – and so I am not entirely sure what that promise entails.
Keeping to the 2050 deadline for carbon neutrality is good news and it is great that it isn’t being immediately scrapped. However, with reports of us having 12 years (2031) or even as little as 18 months to save the planet, I am not sure that the long-term deadline is quite enough.
Last but by no means least, Boris Johnson has a history of racist, homophobic and/or misogynistic remarks which cannot and should not be ignored as he becomes a central part of our country’s future. These include calling gay men ‘bum-boys’ and claiming Muslim women ‘look like letterboxes’. Furthermore, as Foreign Secretary his comments about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in which he claimed she was ‘teaching journalism’, directly led to her conditions in the Iranian prison worsening. If Johnson’s record is anything to go by, calling his premiership a rocky-ride could well be a massive understatement.