13 September 2020
Who will ever trust the UK again? Britain can no longer call itself ‘Great’ Britain and I’m ashamed to be part of it.
England used to be represented by arrogant upper-class gentlemen whose word was their bond, who had become rich and titled by sycophancy, piracy and theft, who invaded other countries (most notably – and unsuccessfully – America) and imposed what they believed were their superior beliefs and standards on the unfortunate residents. (English upper-class gentlewomen stayed at home to crochet bobble hats for the dogs, the Scots were just heathens in skirts, the Welsh were the Irish who couldn’t swim and the Irish provided the third character in racist jokes.)
Britain has a long and ignoble history of deporting toxic waste. While this is now old electronic equipment and nuclear waste, it used to be indigent peasants who had done terrible things like poaching one of the squire’s pheasants to feed their family. So started the genocide of Australia’s Aboriginal population, which is still going on.
In May, Rio Tinto discovered good quality iron ore under some 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia that they knew were sacred to their traditional Aboriginal owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, and they did what any greedy-bastard company would do and blew them up.
It’s taken 4 months for Rio TNT (as the Australian prime minister apparently now calls them) to be shamed into firing its chief executive and two other senior executives but it leaves a serious question about the honour of the other directors who feel able to continue their association with the company after such a despicable act.
What’s finally broken the camel’s back here is the prime minister’s proposing a Bill that even government ministers admit is illegal, insisting in a recent article in the Telegraph that it’s “crucial for peace and for the union itself” and voting it down would reduce the chances of a trade deal with the EU. What part of ‘illegal’ doesn’t he understand? Well, OK, there’s Barnard Castle but that was Cummings not him wasn’t it.
During this week’s annual general meeting of the Bar Council, the attorney general, Suella Braverman, was accused of sacrificing the UK’s reputation, and asked how Britain could retain “a shred of credibility” in imploring other countries to follow international law after revealing its own willingness to breach agreements
The most senior EU leaders in Brussels have said they no longer trust Johnson since he is willing to breach a painstakingly negotiated agreement on Northern Ireland but Johnson’s complete loss of credibility extends way beyond Brexit: Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, has declared there will be “absolutely no chance” of a US-UK trade deal if he continues his illegal action.
Luckily, there are many Conservative MPs with principles who might put their ethics before their politics and oppose the motion but, if it does get through, a ‘no deal’ Brexit becomes a real possibility, particularly since Johnson said earlier this week that Britain will walk away if agreement isn’t reached by 15 October.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a dramatic reaction of disapproval and disgust even from his own side and British business leaders are warning Johnson against a ‘no deal’ exit after he said this would be a “good outcome”. Both the CBI and the Institute of Directors believe reaching a deal is essential if the economy is to avoid worsening the deepest recession since modern records began as the FTSE100 dropped below 6,000 last week (after touching 8,000 during one day’s trading last year) and the value of sterling continues to fall against both the Euro and the US dollar.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 provides some sort of distraction as the number of infections increases and our freedom is being reduced again and, from tomorrow, no more than six people can meet either indoors or outdoors. There’s even a rumour that 3-a-side football is suddenly going to become very popular.
According to leaked official documents Johnson believes that mass testing is “our only hope for avoiding a second national lockdown before a vaccine”, and he’s planning for up to 10 million tests a day. This would mean that every single person in the country would be tested every six days and cynics are tempted to believe he might not be intelligent enough to have realised the implications of carrying out 10m tests a day: if each tester can carry out 100 tests a day, we’ll need 100,000 people collecting samples and at least another 100,000 testing them. Either that or he forgot the number, guessed it, and got it wrong. That actually sounds more in character.
Since a second surge has always been on the cards, this can’t be entirely blamed on Johnson’s unconscionable delay in introducing the lockdown or even his easing the restrictions far too early but we’re likely to see Johnson’s 19th Nervous Breakdown and more people are going to suffer and die from the coronavirus.
How can anyone now trust our prime minister or any MP who supports him?
Or Donald Trump come to that. Another week, another book, this one by Bob Woodward, half of the Woodstein team that uncovered Watergate and ousted Richard Nixon. Called ‘Rage’, it exposes yet more of Trump’s backstory as a mindless and inconsistent bigot, the most surprising thing about it being that Trump allowed his ravings to be taped and on the record, including his admission that he knew early on just how serious Covid-19 was but lied about it so as not to frighten people.
Woodward has been criticised for not revealing some of the more shocking information earlier but has said he needed to check sources and verify the accuracy of what he wrote before he published it.
And now a convicted criminal, Roger Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted by Trump, has said that Trump should seize total power and jail prominent figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg if he loses in November.
And finally, I mentioned last week the kindness of the woman who was so ashamed by the UK’s treatment of the 11 Syrian refugees flown by the Home Office to Madrid and abandoned there that she stepped in to help. Her name is now known: she’s Barbara Pomfret, who advises companies on corporate social responsibility. She’s paid for food and accommodation for the group (who are all from the same part of southern Syria and want to stay together) and has set up a crowdfunding page for them. What people like Johnson and Trump could learn from people like her.