Skip to main content

Editorial: A general election, not parliamentary games, is how we beat Boris Johnson

PROTESTS in central London and hints that the Speaker of the House of Commons could facilitate a no-confidence vote before the summer parliamentary recess show Boris Johnson’s premiership is off to a predictably rocky start.

The Morning Star looked yesterday at the third of the three priorities Johnson named for his premiership — to deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn — and at what approach the left should take to ensuring we defeat him instead. But the first two deserve our attention too.

There are few politicians in Britain less suited to uniting the country than Johnson. His entire journalistic and political career has been based on scaremongering, stereotyping and sowing division.

The litany of his race-baiting remarks is well known. This is the man who as editor of the Spectator ran an article claiming that black people have lower IQs and who penned an editorial which repeated police lies about football fans being responsible for the deaths of the Hillsborough 96.

“Uniting the country” is an obligatory stock phrase from politicians given the deep divide between those who voted to Leave the European Union and those who voted to Remain.

Johnson has no more shown any inclination to speak to the concerns of both camps than have the pro-EU Labour rightwingers trying to force their party into backing a second referendum.

Only Corbyn’s consistent focus on stressing that the impact of poverty pay, insecure work, rip-off housing and utility bills and underfunded public services affect the overwhelming majority of Leavers and Remainers provides any hope of uniting working-class people on both sides behind an agenda for change, even if media misrepresentation and parliamentary sabotage mean he has struggled to get the message heard.

But can Johnson deliver Brexit? Powerful forces in Parliament and the British state are determined to stop it. A Brexit on Johnson’s terms would likely entail signing damaging deregulatory trade deals with the United States and other countries that could see health, safety, food quality and environmental protection standards lowered, though the EU’s consistent pursuit of similar treaties should make it clear to everyone on the left that Remaining is no defence against such outcomes.

Should we then sympathise with strategies to seek a cross-party alliance to hobble Johnson’s premiership?

For the socialist left the answer must be a resounding No. As Monday’s People’s Assembly rally and tonight’s Labour Party demonstration both insist — our task is to build maximum pressure for a general election in which we bring him down.

As Richard Burgon warns in today’s Morning Star, discussions are ongoing about using fear of the Brexit deadline to form a “national government” led by a pro-EU Labour or Tory MP. If the name would be MPs of all parties coming together to steer Britain through a constitutional crisis, the game would be a conspiracy by privileged champions of the status quo to override the democratic decision to leave the EU and scupper Corbyn’s Labour into the bargain. 

Such a government would be an anti-democratic disgrace but would enjoy the support of large sections of the media, of the Liberal Democrats and probably the Scottish National Party.

It would not solve Britain’s crisis of capitalism — it would rather inflame anti-Establishment anger, probably to the benefit of the far right unless the socialist left were able to put itself at the head of the resistance.

But it could see the movement’s advances of the last few years reversed, the defeat of the Labour left and the loss of the best chance in generations for a socialist government. 

Our answer to the threat posed by Johnson must be a democratic one. Winning an election against him will not be easy, particularly if he poses as the champion of Brexit when Labour is unable to do so. But it is the only path open to us.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 8,311
We need:£ 9,689
10 Days remaining
Donate today