For decades now we have been sold the 'New Britain', packaged and flogged to us by Blairite career politicians and PR gurus. They told us that we must forget our past as a sovereign, industrial and unitary nation, grounded in values that stretch back throughout the generations. They told us that this Britain that we used to know is lost to the march of history; that it must be forgotten, and that we must become something else. And so we were sold the 'New Britain' in its place, defined by EU vassalage, devolution, de-industrialisation, debt, multiculturalism and the broad 'progressive' revolution.
I can hardly think of anybody who typifies this 'New Britain' more than Boris Johnson (real name Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson). This is a man who was educated at the European School of Brussels; who made his name in the City of London as mayor on the back of London devolution; whose only rebellion against the Tory party line has been as a sort of social liberal renegade, seen for example in the fact that he was one of a very small minority of Conservative MPs to actively support the Gender Recognition Act 2004 when most abstained. He is also the ultimate embodiment of a Blairite career politician, exemplified by the fact that he had prepared an entire letter and speech announcing his support for the EU and David Cameron just two days before he decided to come out in support of the Leave campaign. He had prepared one letter for the EU, and one against it, apparently waiting to see which way the winds of public opinion would blow; a friend of this author dubbed him 'Two Letters Johnson', which seems amusing and apt.
This is the lens through which we must consider Johnson's latest comments about the burqa, and the surrounding furore which it has caused. Of course it provoked the predictable reaction. There was a chorus of virtue signalling by the usual suspects; in this case Ruth Davidson perhaps stole the show with her ludicrous claim that the burqa is comparable to a crucifix, which shows wilful contempt for our history and culture as a nation. But the excesses of the liberal-left are no reason to rally round Johnson, which was always his plan with this very strategic gaffe. His comments were perfectly timed at the beginning of the summer recess when there was little else to report on in order to get everybody talking about him and about burqas; to set himself up as a sort of people's champion and as a supposedly pro-Brexit successor to May, while deflecting from the fact that he is in every way imaginable the living embodiment of the political elite and the broad anti-British revolution of recent decades.
He is a fully signed-up supporter of the 'New Britain', and a government under Johnson as PM would be defined by continued mass immigration, continued de-industrialisation, continued carve up of the UK through devolution, continued dissolution of national infrastructure and the continued unchallenged expansion of the broad 'progressive' revolution and the loss of the Britain that we used to know. In so far as he may or may not negotiate an exit from the EU, it would be one defined by trade harmonisation and a sort of 'globalist' Brexit that would emphasise porous borders and free trade with the third world; the polar opposite of what most Leave voters actually wanted, and for whom the Leave vote was a rejection of the excesses of globalisation.
This is why anybody who supports Britain's exit from the EU must avoid rallying round Johnson as a sort of pro-Brexit saviour. We've been here before: pro-Brexit voters abandoned UKIP and flocked to Theresa May as the "strong and stable" Conservative candidate who was going to play hard ball with the EU and deliver a firm exit. Of course that seems laughable now, but critics like myself were a minority at the time. Two Letters Johnson, who since 1997 has been repeatedly elected on his Conservative Party's pro-EU manifestos, is no more of a principled Brexiteer than Remain campaigner Theresa May. And ultimately, whatever his Brexit credentials, a Johnson administration would be in almost every way a continuation of the failed politics of recent decades. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants would enter the country each year. Industry would be outsourced freely to the developing world. Power after power would be handed to the devolved assemblies. Foreign companies would own more and more of our national infrastructure. Tony Blair's 'New Britain' project would roll on unchallenged; Boris Johnson has after all supported it all of his political life.
Of course Boris doesn't want anybody to talk about that; it suits him well to manufacture a mild controversy with a throwaway comment over burqas so that we forget everything else, and he can pretend to be slightly different from the rest of the establishment which he is in truth very much a part of himself.
It is a trick to further his personal ambitions; it is deliberate, calculated and manufactured. Don't fall for it.