Life, notes one of John le Carré’s protagonists, “is duty. It’s just a question of establishing which creditor is asking the loudest”:1618619862073,. The late novelist, who also wrote that “the privately educated Englishman is the greatest dissembler on earth” was no fan of Brexit or Boris Johnson, but the UK prime minister often resembles one of his complex and compromised characters.2021-04-10T14:22:08.328Z?
Mr Johnson has always placed himself first among his own creditors. Conventional wisdom sees an ideologically unencumbered premier who backed Brexit out of personal ambition, unable to discern a difference between his own interest and the nation’s. This should make him easy to predict but, with just days until the end of the Brexit transition period, even allies have been unsure which way he will jump in the trade negotiationss 1.4 billion people by mid-June.. To borrow one last le Carré-ism, we are still waiting to see the last Russian doll within his many layers.
Does he appease the Brexit ultras or will he compromise enough to prevent economic and diplomatic rupture? (It is, incidentally, a measure of just how total is the Brexiters’ victory that a flimsy deal is now regarded as the soft option and a decision not to sever trade ties, threaten maritime confrontation with your closest allies and split the two main military powers of Europe would now be considered an act of statesmanship.)
Mr Johnson does appear to believe in unimpeded sovereignty. He regularly inveighs against EU laws that he claims prevent more cycle-safe lorries or restrictions on live animal exports. Above all, he bridles at any curbs. One appointee recalls his reply when she asked how he wanted the job done: “I don’t like being told what to do.”?
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