Sunday 30 June 2019


Charisma carries no moral code. It cares for neither colour, race, ideology nor creed.

Only charisma can link Muhammad Ali, Adolf Hitler, Madonna, Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Martin Luther King.

Charisma doesn’t care if it’s right or wrong, good or bad.

Yet inevitably it wins, because we humans cannot resist it.

Boris Johnson relies on his charisma. Throughout his tempestuous political career, it has saved him from serial charges of lying, incompetence and adultery.

Tory leadership elections are notoriously unpredictable affairs. At first Johnson’s team tried desperately to avoid upsetting moderate members.

They bound and trussed him into Boris Lite, and told him to evade the media.

The restraints of Boris Lite inhibited his charisma, making Johnson appear flat and dull, but as we saw last weekend, you cannot cage this man for long.

During his regular fits of rage, Johnson likes to throw things across the room, displaying the arrogance of a man who never has to clean up.

Even a flat dull Boris Lite looks pretty perky and charismatic next to his opponent.

A graduate of the Ed Miliband School of Charisma, Jeremy Hunt had, at first, no choice but to present himself as the sensible cerebral candidate; the man with the plan; Theresa in trousers.

Now Johnson’s cowardice and evasion have handed Hunt an opportunity to bully the bully, although I doubt Hunt’s fortitude in that struggle. 

However Hunt is gaining ground, doing well at the Tory hustings because he’s able to respond to questions with answers, while his opponent can only offer fantasy.

This wasn’t the way Boris planned it. He wanted to respond to the Boris Signal and fly in to rescue Britain, after it had already crashed out with a No Deal.

Now his nonensical plan is to negotiate a trade deal with the EU during the Implementation Period after a No Deal.

Cue the kid watching the naked Emperor:

“What the hell’s he talking about? That’s impossible. There will be no Implementation Period after a No Deal.”

Tories say only Boris can win an election, but history shows that those good at winning elections rarely make great leaders.

The lovechild of Mick Jagger and a dry roasted peanut, Rory Stewart made himself noticed  by trashing the other candidates’ disingenuous talk of a new deal.

Yet with all their self-important posturing, not one ever mentioned the elephantine EU presence in the room: it doesn’t matter what Westminster does or doesn’t decide.

Come October 31st, if there is no deal, the EU will declare No Deal.

With just 4 months left, the Tories fiddle while Britain burns.

I want to explode every time I hear them talk of putting a time limit on the backstop. 

When they can form a meaningful sentence using the words ‘peace process’ and ‘temporary’ I will listen.

We here in Ireland know that No Deal means a hard border; a return to full partition.

The Tories can be cavalier about that, as they know the EU will be forced to build the physical border, to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

If you feel the English just don’t care about Ireland, you need to understand how we’ve been failed by our education. We are taught nothing about the place, its people and history.

By the time I arrived in Ireland I’d travelled the planet twice, could bore the pants off you with tales of Italy’s Risorgimento and the birth of Germany, but I didn’t even know the Irish had a civil war.

Ignorance is the weakest defence. I’m neither condoning English ignorance of Ireland, nor their contemptuous attitude to the peace process.

It’s just a tough truth: we weren’t taught about Ireland.

Conservatives whine on about their ‘precious union with Northern Ireland’, yet ask any about the situation there and they instantly retreat, wailing 

“Oh, I don’t know. It’s all too complicated!”

If you’re feeling confused by English democracy, that’d be because this isn’t democracy, merely hypocrisy.

Both candidates insist it’s vital to obey 17 million votes (while disregarding 16 million votes), yet one of them will be elected leader of a nation of 64 million people, by 0.3% of the population, mostly white affluent males aged between 57 and 72.

Beyond his inadequacies and obfuscations, the most troubling thing about Johnson is his unbridled opportunism. Of course we expect this of ambitious politicians, but Johnson’s absolute craving for power has morphed him into a moral vacuum.

Instinctively a Remainer and a liberal, his dribbling eagerness to abandon everything he believes in still manages to drop the jaw.

Ridiculous really, when we’ve just had a Remainer PM arguing to leave, while Corbyn is a Leaver arguing to, well, who the hell knows?

When the people of the UK needed a strong Opposition, they’ve had instead a Labour leader liberated from direction and conviction. 

Corbyn resembles a bewildered grandad, out on a day trip against his will.

The Irish have every right to feel anger about this Brexit debacle. As a man proud to be both English and Irish, it all feels crushingly sad.

Barring the revelation of a 6th (or is it 7th?) child, by the end of July we’ll be dealing with Prime Minster Johnson. His charisma is then likely to win a majority at a General Election, so he can dump the DUP.

However, charisma doesn’t get the job done.

After his No Deal Brexit has devastated the UK economy, and the hard border on this island has spawned violence, we’ll see how little financial and political support Johnson is willing to invest in Northern Ireland, to protect his precious union.

©Charlie Adley

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