Boris Johnson. Photo: Christopher Furlong
Johnson’s real agenda coming clearer: Watch out for your rights!
Boris Johnson is at least the bookies’ favourite to become Conservative Party Leader and therefore Prime Minister, and, as the leading Conservative on the Leave side, he fulfils one key criterion for PM in post-referendum Britain (“you broke it, you bought it!“)
So it’s worth trying to get some idea of what sort of future for the UK and Europe he has in mind: never easy where Johnson is concerned. He is attempting to portray himself as the ‘unity’ candidate, presumably because he can justifiably claim to have been in favour both of remaining in the EU and leaving it in the space of just the last six months.
He has, despite photographic and other evidence to the contrary, denied that he ever promised to use the alleged £350m a week we pay to Brussels (not, of course, that this is a valid figure) to boost the NHS budget. And his position on migration is so wobbly that the slogan “take back control” implies the sort of control that a four year old has taking their first ride on a bike without stabilisers: maybe he’ll get the hang of it.
He was good enough to set out his ‘plans’ in an article in the Telegraph on Monday, although friends are apparently briefing that an experienced journalist and politician of several decades wrote it without much thought. As I say, maybe he’ll get the hang of it.
In that article, he began to backtrack from the £350m pledge (a ‘substantial sum’ ‘could’ be directed to the NHS), and also indicated that he expected the UK to maintain full access to the EU single market and uninterrupted rights for British people to travel around Europe to work, study or retire. But within the fantasy politics, one point becomes crystal clear. He wrote:
“The only change … is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal.”
It is worth remembering that the legislation he has focused on most in the past few years (apart from his ludicrous claims about bananas and pasties) has been those guaranteeing workers’ rights. As we’ve pointed out, Johnson would like to scrap “all that social chapter stuff”. And most of the cases that “Britain” has lost at the European Court of Justice have actually been victories for British people, often against their employers. This suggests that Johnson’s main target is not the economy, not immigration, but workers’ rights.
That’s why it’s so important to defend our rights at work, rights which are popular with the electorate and which even prominent Leave campaigners promised during the referendum would not be touched. We need to hold them to those promises (along with the promises on extra funding for the NHS and so on.) That’s why the TUC has set up a way to petition your MP – especially important with Conservative MPs – asking them to make a public commitment to leave our rights alone.