the American turn of Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on November 11.

Editorial of the “World”. Shakespeare or Feydeau? Between court intrigue and slamming doors, Downing Street has just been agitated by a series of events which led Boris Johnson to sack, Friday, November 13, the activists of a pure and hard Brexit which he had made his personal guard . The departure of the most famous of them, Special Advisor Dominic Cummings, architect of the Brexit victory in the 2016 referendum, promoter of Mr Johnson’s electoral triumph in December 2019 and supporter of shock methods against the The European Union, however, cannot be reduced to the outcome of a bad vaudeville.

Admittedly, the exorbitant hold on the government of Mr. Cummings, known as “Dom”, a character known for his contempt of the elected officials and the administration, only underlined the dilettantism and the irresolution of the Prime Minister. Leaks to the press organized by relatives to force Mr Johnson’s hand, conflict with Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s companion and former Conservative Party communications director, led to the disgrace of Dominic Cummings and others “Hard Brexiters”.

Beyond a government psychodrama, the episode comes at a crucial moment in the negotiation of future relations with the EU. Six weeks before the deadline – December 31 – for the conclusion of an agreement and a few days after Donald Trump’s failure in the US presidential election, the divorce between Mr. Johnson and his political strategist appears to be a mark of weakness , and therefore as a possible sign of a greater willingness to compromise.

Also read the analysis: After Joe Biden’s US presidential victory, UK fears isolation

The Prime Minister, who “sold” Brexit to the British by promising them a bright future within an “Anglosphere” strong in its “special relationship” with the United States, counted on the support of Donald Trump and his hostility towards the EU.

However, the victory of Joe Biden reinforces the danger of isolation of the United Kingdom. She urges Mr. Johnson to give up ballast to spare his future relations with a Democratic administration which could regard him as a “British Trump”. The Prime Minister’s stubbornness in passing a law denying his commitment to the EU on the status of Northern Ireland has made his case worse in the eyes of Camp Biden. Not only because it recalls the methods of the incumbent US president, but also because this law hurts the American electorate of Irish descent, like Mr. Biden himself.

Latitude to reach agreement

As the UK has one of the worst Covid death rates in developed countries and 59% of Britons negatively rate the way it is handling Brexit negotiations, Mr Johnson has every reason to want to avoid the additional disaster of re-establishing customs barriers on 1er January 2021 in the event of a “no deal”. For the moment, the negotiations appear to be deadlocked.

The British government’s desire to maintain free access to the single European market, without however committing to a level playing field, is unacceptable to the EU. Opposite, London cannot uphold the Europeans’ claim to retain access to British fishing grounds.

By letting go of the Brexit ultras, Boris Johnson has given himself more leeway to reach an agreement. For the United Kingdom as for Europe, it would be time, in fact, to end, with the minimum of damage, the endless and venomous divorce of Brexit.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Covid-19: in the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson attempts a political refocus

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