Boris Johnson's record is riddled with lies and racism and could further encourage the xenophobic wave sweeping Europe.
Now that outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has given her blubbering resignation speech in front of Number 10, speculation is rife as to who might be replacing her in Britain’s top job.
While the speculative candidate list is growing, only a few Tories have formally thrown their hat into the ring. Of those, the gaffe-prone former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has emerged as the bookmakers’ favourite. I cannot emphasise enough how Johnson as prime minister would be an unmitigated disaster not only for Britain but for those around the world struggling to end a resurgent far-right menace.
Johnson is a pathological liar
Boris Johnson’s track record is one that is mired with lies and sullied by racism.
While the 2003 Iraq war was former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s joint scheme with then-US President George W Bush, Johnson voted in favour of Blair’s position in a number of key votes. He first voted against seeking the support of the UN Security Council before any invasion was launched and he voted to allow the British government to “use all means” to destroy Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
He then voted against allowing MPs a say in whether or not their country should blindly commit British soldiers to a war based on what was then unclear evidence and what is now known to be Blair’s lies, costing countless innocent Iraqi lives.
Johnson told two infamous lies that he most certainly is responsible for while campaigning in favour of Brexit. The first of which was so brazen, he had it emblazoned across the side of a bus.
Johnson toured up and down the nation on this bus covered in lies and claimed that the National Health Service (NHS) would be £350 million better off if voters chose Brexit. After Brexiteers had won the 2016 referendum, Brexiteers put their tails between their legs and feebly uttered that the lie was “a mistake”.
Now Johnson faces a private prosecution to hold him to account for his criminal lying.
As if lying about the NHS was not heinous enough, Johnson perpetuated the racist myth that the Turkish people were foaming at the mouth to come to the UK by their tens of millions.
Johnson actively stoked the fear of mass Turkish immigration to the UK in the event Turkey ever became part of the EU, and scare-mongered about having “shared borders” with Turks who would apparently cripple the NHS. To add insult to injury, earlier this year he continued to lie after he was confronted about the original lie and said “I didn’t say anything about Turkey” in 2016.
Johnson himself is part Turk, claiming descent from his great-grandfather Ali Kemal who was an Ottoman politician. His grandfather was even originally called Osman Kemal before his family, fearful of anti-Turkish sentiment at the time due to the First World War, changed his name to Wilfred Johnson.
In other words, he could quite easily have been called “Boris Kemal”. No wonder his modern-day Turkish cousin has denounced him as “a Little Englander” who is “playing at populism” and who would have prevented his great-grandfather from coming to the UK.
Johnson’s racism will embolden the far-right
His anti-Turkish sentiment is perhaps only dwarfed by his more blatant racist acts. In 2002, Johnson said that Blair would enjoy his impending tour of Africa as he would be greeted by “flag-waving piccaninnies” and “the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief”.
In response to being called out for his explicit racism against black Africans, Johnson waited until 2008 to offer a non-apology.
While acting as Britain’s top diplomat in 2017, Johnson had to be warned about his “inappropriate” recitation of a colonial-era poem while on a state visit to Myanmar, a victim of the British Empire. His behaviour was so embarrassing that the British ambassador had to remind him “You’re on mic. Probably not a good idea.”
In 2018, now out of work as a foreign secretary but still busy agitating for Brexit, Johnson insultingly compared Muslim women wearing the niqab face veil to “letterboxes” and denigrated them as looking like “bank robbers”, using inflammatory and Islamophobic rhetoric to victimise an already vulnerable segment of the British population.
Do we really want a man in power who capitalises off his feigned buffoonery to bamboozle the public into thinking that every racist or dishonest thing he does is “just a laugh”? Do we really want a man whose horrendous views, stated over almost two decades, at the helm of one of the most influential countries in the world?
If the far-right got a boost after Donald Trump came to power in the White House, just how much will racist views be normalised when the Anglo-American “special relationship” becomes warped by a bigot like Johnson leading the UK?
It is not as though Theresa May was a paragon of virtue, as she has her own unique closet full of skeletons. However, at least she has never once suggested that colonialism would be the best fate for Africa like Johnson has.
If Johnson was to succeed her as prime minister, we could expect minorities in the UK to face increasing persecution and for the pestilence of the global far-right to become more severe as men like Johnson, Trump, and others of their populist ilk come together in a maelstrom of hate.
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