For all those aware of Boris Johnson and his many racist remarks and history of lies and violent plotting, it’s unlikely that he has come over as anything but a liar during this EU referendum. But to many outside of the know, Boris has proved to be dangerously deceptive. I’m not going to attack the case for remain or leave here – rather, the underlying and hidden reasons for Boris Johnson’s choice.
It was only three years ago that Boris Johnson was filmed praising the EU and said that he would “never vote to leave, ever.” He was also recorded, on quite a lengthy piece of film, encouraging Turkey to join the EU and for Britain to accept them into the EU. Johnson is the leading figure in all of the polls and at the Bookies for replacing David Cameron as the leader of the Conservatives, and thus potentially becoming prime minister. Therefore, it’s important that we analyse him to the highest detail in order to determine whether or not he is in it for self-service or for public service. All too often politicians appear for the people and are voted into office by the people but turn out to have deceived the people.
First, let’s examine what Boris Johnson stands for and the principles that undermine his politics:
The Free Market
The word ‘free,’ in free market can be misleading to many. For the vast majority it can greatly restrict and economically enslave them, and for just a few of us (either through hard work, luck, innovation and/or inheritance) it can provide an abundance of freedom, wealth and power. It’s important to pay attention to those who support such a system that ultimately benefits the few and hurts the many. Does a system that creates a huge amount of wealth for the few, have a positive impact on the economy? Well, according to an IMF report ‘increasing the income share of the poor and the middle class actually increases growth while a rising income share of the top 20 percent results in lower growth—that is, when the rich get richer, benefits do not trickle down’ . Just to clarify, the IMF is actually very supportive of the free market, so to provide evidence against the free market should install confidence in the integrity of this report. After all, the lowest earners have a much higher marginal propensity to consume compared to the highest earners and it’s consumption that drives economies forwards.
When Boris was fiercely faced with shouts about Uber drivers undercutting cabbies he shouted: “Yes they are. It’s called the free market.” He then went on to defend the company Uber and issue the black cab trades death certificate. This is just one of many clear examples of total support for the free market but it also brings me nicely onto my second point about Boris’s principles and politics.
Boris Johnson didn’t just defend the free market and issue the death certificate of the black cab trade, he also refused to accept the fact that Uber (a tax-avoiding company), had an unfair advantage compared to the black cab trade. Uber actually pays thousands of its drivers less than the regulated minimum wage and avoids Transport for London’s cab regulations. So by defending Uber so strongly, Boris Johnson in effect showed us that he is anti-minimum wage, anti-regulations and pro free market and tax avoidance. In one breath, Boris says that Uber is “systematically” breaking the law and in another says, regarding Uber, “I agree completely with free marketeers.” A reduction in regulations is a major part of the free marketeers’ rhetoric and free market economics goes hand in hand with a cut in regulations. Cuts in regulations are regularly referred to as ‘red tape’ but it’s this red tape that ensures workers are paid a minimum wage, that the food we eat has a label of ingredients and that certain toxic chemicals are not being sprayed onto food crops – chemicals that save farmers money at the cost of people’s health. A lot of these regulations are designed to have a net positive on the majority of the population. Cutting regulation is just like the effect seen in free market economics – disaster for the majority and an abundance of wealth and power for the few.
The NHS is a dilemma for free market thinkers, solely because a tax-funded health care system that is free at the point of use for all is completely the opposite thinking to free market economics. And yet the NHS has proved to be a fantastic achievement and provides world class healthcare at an astonishingly low cost (when compared to other G20 nations). It would, therefore, be accurate to assume Boris would like to privatise the NHS as he is a free marketeer. The NHS is the reason the UK pays roughly a third of what the USA pays per person for health, as the USA largely uses a free market system. In the UK it costs $3,935 per person and in the USA it costs $9,403 per person . To further cement evidence that Boris’s political principles are against a publicly funded NHS, you only have to observe the government he is a part of, where the Health Secretary co-authored a book supporting privatisation and where government policy has been towards underfunding and fragmentation via outsourcing of the various services the NHS provides. Boris Johnson said, ‘If people have to pay for NHS services, they will value them more.’
Immigration and Imperialism
It’s actually rather difficult to determine Boris Johnson’s views on other nationalities, immigration and Britain’s place in the world. Of course, Boris has supported every bombing campaign and war that he has been offered a vote on  but his statements on migrants and other nations often clash with one another. Boris Johnson recently said that it was “absolutely wrong” that Britain did not have the power to “control these flows”. In another breath, as mentioned in my first paragraph, he encouraged ‘these flows.’ It’s important to note that he then uses his new argument against immigration as a way to explain his own government’s failings. So, does Boris have a problem with foreigners or is he concerned about the NHS? I’m less than convinced but that’s up to you to decide. Less than a decade ago, the ex-London mayor apologised in public for calling people of colour (POC) “piccaninnies” and referring to their “watermelon” smiles. And much more recently he said that President Obama has an “ancestral dislike” for Britain as a result of his “part-Kenyan” heritage. And here in a blog from 2008 on more choice quotes from Boris: http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/boris-quotes.html
There does seem to be very few areas where the EU, which is a right-wing neoliberal organisation, goes against the grain of Boris Johnson’s right-wing politics. Which begs the question, why would he vote leave at the referendum? This is a fascinating election, where both ends of the political spectrum seem to be voting in the wrong direction. The right wing is voting out of the EU because it is not right-wing enough, and the left wing and central ground largely voting for the EU despite it being right wing and heading in a direction that they disagree with. Others are simply voting one way due to misguidance. So what are the possible motivations for wanting to leave the EU for Boris?
The free market has been responsible for the biggest wage stagnation in modern history and it goes completely against fundamental worker’s rights. In keeping with Boris Johnson’s politics, it’s more than reasonable to expect that this will be a key target if the UK was to leave the EU. There would be nothing in his way legally, only the British people who have already, thanks to less than 25% of the electorate, approved this Conservative government. In the IMF report quoted earlier, it found that labour rights degradation was one of the major reasons for slow economic growth. This means that anyone wanting to cut labour rights, wants to do so not for economic reasons, but for political reasons and the only people that benefit in that situation are the rich and powerful as explained earlier.
This is one of the very few positive motivations that Boris could cite as wanting to leave the EU. Of course, much of our trade depends on the EU and leaving without pre-organised trade deals would be like leaving a job without having another one to go to. It’s a risk. But the EU is a diminishing trading block. It once had less than 20 members yet accounted for roughly a third of the world’s GDP and now it has over 30 members and accounts for less than 20% of the world’s GDP. African nations are growing near double digit figures and the EU is struggling around the 1% growth mark. But if Boris is happy to sacrifice economic growth by cutting away at labour rights, then he shows a blatant disregard for the UK economy and all his talk on trade and the economy seems to be nothing but hot air.
Undoubtedly a cut in regulations would be very much in line with Boris Johnson’s politics and economics. It would enable him to relax the obligation on businesses to provide a safe workplace, provide safe products, produce and deliver products and services with relaxed standards and pollute both the planet and us.
The EU is generally a terrible organisation for the majority of us, but unfortunately for the private sector, public sector and voluntary workers in the UK, the choice is either a very right-wing, anti-worker Boris Johnson government or an EU with a few perks such as workers’ rights protections, visa-free travel, the EU arrest warrant and unified climate change action. Imagine a Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, with Ian Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, Michael Gove. These are people that have caused the deaths of 1000’s of disabled people through brutal work capability ‘assessments’, people that want to bring back the death penalty, people who want to privatise almost all of the public sector departments and services and people who are very totalitarian and regressive.
Whatever the outcome of this referendum, I feel it’s important that the workers message that Boris has struck, is laid bare and open and that the facts surrounding a Boris lead government are spread far and wide to those who have heard and believed his marvellous and well-orated speeches but not his true intentions.