Boris Johnson: 21st century realpolitik

Can the Brexiteer justify writing a pro EU article days before his endorsement of leave?
asks what this tells us about the man

Boris Johnson

Image: Andrew Parsons/ i-Images

Boris Johnson, the champion of Britain’s vote to leave the EU has now been shoved in the limelight again for all the wrong reasons. His pro EU article has struck many a nail in the coffin of his integrity as a politician. However, I believe that he is borrowing an idea that has been part of populist politics for centuries that ironically or not, comes from the bowels of the EU itself. Germany. To many it may seem that in a game that turned out to be straight sets he was playing the field, but Boris has been highly tactical in his support. Not only giving him results but a place in the cabinet.

Just days before he revealed to the shock of the establishment that he was Pro-Brexit, Boris Johnson wrote an article for the Sunday Times calling the EU a “boon for the world”. To many this is seen as an insight into a man vying for power who would sacrifice integrity in the form of results. To me, it seemed like a confirmation.

Like me, Boris Johnson is an avid historian and I have been a reader of Boris Johnson’s books for many years. One thing is clear throughout most of his books, he loves Churchill for all he was, even calling him his “hero”. This discovery of a pro-EU article would make Churchill gleam from end to end. As nothing screams Churchill more than some good old fashioned politics.

Boris Johnson is a highly opportunistic politician, I believe he subscribes to an old Bismarckian term called “Realpolitik”. That is, to change policy regardless of political affiliation to fit the mood of the people. Churchill himself changed allegiance twice in his career, Boris is simply following in the footsteps of his icon.

Boris Johnson is Britain’s cult of personality. He was our mascot: a funny, in touch politician that won votes and minds. Politicians like Boris love to be popular and judging by the referendum result, he was on the side of popular. This was not only a serious political gamble, it was a gamble that actually payed off.

Personally, when Boris Johnson announced his devotion to Brexit, I did not believe him for one second. He took an enormous risk for if Brexit hadn’t happened, he would have left politics behind to write a few more books faster than you could say Remain. He is playing the politics of the 19th and 20th century and much to his delight it is working.
Political ideology is the crux of our democracy, but I believe that politicians should have the right to change their opinion based on the mood of the people at the time. It’s why the Tories haven’t privatised the NHS, its why congress hasn’t revoked the New Deal.

It is all well and good to maintain an ideology, however if it leaves us stagnant in reform then what is the point? We can’t move down the road if we entrench at every junction. Populist politics are a bit like an itchy kilt, you have to get a feel for the patterns. To be a good politician is to be in tune with the will of the populace. It just so happens that in the referendum Johnson was conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the Last Night of the Proms, while David Cameron was playing Auld Lang Syne off key on a recorder.

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