Irish in Britain on Boris Johnson: ‘We are in a heap of trouble’

‘Boris Johnson is a genius ... it is we who are the fools now’- readers react to new Tory leader

Boris Johnson leaves the Conservative Party headquarters after being announced as the party’s new leader. Photograph: Neil Hall/ EPA

Boris Johnson leaves the Conservative Party headquarters after being announced as the party’s new leader. Photograph: Neil Hall/ EPA

 

Boris Johnson will become Britain’s next prime minister on Wednesday after being elected leader of the Conservative party.

Irish Times Abroad asked readers living in the UK to share their views on what kind of prime minister Johnson will make. Here is a selection of responses:

Daragh O’Reilly, Sheffield: ‘I don’t think he’ll last long’

Johnson will be an unmitigated disaster as prime minister, far worse than Theresa May, which is saying a lot. I don’t think he’ll last long.

Denise Clyne, Scotland: ‘He will be the last prime minister’

Boris will be the very best UK prime minister ever because he will be the last one. If this fiasco has done anything it’s shown that the union is an outdated, corrupt piece of nonsense, which has now run its course.

Nuala Ginty: ‘No one can believe this is happening’

It’s like we are going back in time. No one can believe this is happening. Johnson and Trump. What a world we live in!

Barry O’Donnell, London: ‘Lampooning Johnson is so crass’

The Irish press have been incredibly unbalanced in their reporting on Brexit. Just because Ireland would never contemplate leaving the EU, the reporting has been almost farcical in questioning the UK’s democratic decision to do so. Turning Boris Johnson into some figure of fun will backfire severely. The reporting both sides of Irish Sea might be more balanced if it focused on voters’ real concerns and why they voted Brexit. Immigration is only part of it. They want their sovereignty back. Lampooning Johnson is so crass. He will lampoon himself, but the reporting on the whole matter has been distasteful. I only hope Ireland’s own red lines don’t come back to haunt us.

Anne Garvey, Armagh: ‘He has no appreciation of the impact of Brexit’

Johnson will be a dreadful prime minster. He has no interest in anyone but himself. He has no appreciation of the impact of Brexit, particularly on the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland as a whole. Nor does he care.

Aisling O’Loghlen, Newcastle upon Tyne: ‘The complete lack of understanding of Irish history has been depressing’

I have been living in the UK since 2010. I spent the first seven years in Edinburgh and then I moved to Newcastle for work, where I am a research fellow at Northumbria University. I am very concerned about what has happened to the country since the Brexit referendum, and the rise of Boris Johnson to prime minister is just the final public shame of a once serious country in the throes of a deep identity crisis. I think Boris is a contemptible, narcissistic, amoral figure who could potentially do great damage not only to the UK but also to Ireland, both north and south. As someone who has always loved living in the UK, the complete lack of understanding of Irish history has been depressing and I can only hope things will improve, but at the moment I am not hopeful.

Irish in Britain:
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Deirdre O’Sullivan: ‘Embarrassing but hopefully short-lived prime minister’

Boris Johnson will make a very embarrassing but hopefully short-lived prime minister. The Tory majority could disappear in weeks. Brexit might then be fought off. Here’s hoping Labour can get its act together.

Marisa Lanning: ‘Do not underestimate the damage he will cause’

Johnson is another Trump. He is a narcissistic opportunist who is primarily interested in himself. He does not care about his country or the world as a public servant ought to. Do not underestimate the lengths he is willing to go or the damage he will cause. Someone that self-absorbed has no qualms about driving a country into ruin for his own gains.

Jack McKane, Co Down: ‘Inept and unprepared for the job’

Boris Johnson will be a disastrous leader of the UK. The fact that he is evading questions about his potential policies before he is even in office shows how inept and unprepared he is for the job. Johnson, and to be honest, most of the Tory Party, seem to be overcome with the idea that they are the only ones at the negotiating table - ignoring any feedback from the EU as if they aren’t the ones who have to agree with a deal. Johnson may be a prime minister for the English, but the rest of the UK are not represented by him.

Michael Curtin, England: ‘Boris is the UK’s best hope of restoring a democratic system of government’

Boris is hated by the “remain” establishment and the mainstream media in the UK. He is blamed for the success of the Leave vote in the referendum. Therefore, reporting in the press and opinions expressed by the “great and the good” about Boris need to be viewed with scepticism. Boris is not some extreme right-wing figure but he is, in fact, a politician very much on the liberal side of the Conservative Party. I cannot think of any other Conservative politician who could have won the mayoral election, twice, in a predominantly left-wing London. Boris is probably the UK’s best hope of honouring the democratic vote of 17.5 million people and restoring a democratic system of government where laws are made by elected politicians and not made by unelected bureaucrats as in the EU.

Mary Coleman, Scotland: ‘Boris Johnson is a genius ... it is we who are the fools’

Mary Coleman.
Mary Coleman.

I am a 29- year-old speech and language therapist. All the world’s a stage ... and like it or not, Boris Johnson is a genius. Today, he will take one of the most powerful political positions in the world. I’m sure he can hardly believe it himself. After all, he has said on many occasions that the chances of him becoming prime minister were slim to none. That’s what he wanted us to think. His years in Brussels, where he chiselled away at the Conservative view of the EU, were not for nothing, nor were his years as the unlikely mayor of London, where he built up an army of fans and well-wishers.

He has repeatedly made a fool of himself in national media (case and point, the zip wire incident during his time as mayor). We all thought he was just a hapless, hopeless Etonian with delusions of grandeur, which would always remain just that - delusional. Only it is we who are the fools now, because Boris had a plan all along, and it has finally come to its stomach churning fruition. He is not, as we thought, the court jester, but is in fact the consummate Shakespearian villain who has spent years living in the shadows of other leading men, and a woman, until the time came to strike. He has finally blustered and bumbled his way to the top. Boris will now join a pantheon of players on the political stage.

As an Irish resident of Scotland, I believe that his ascension will see an uprising in the North. Nicola Sturgeon will capitalise on the opportunity to reignite the Scottish Independence debate at a time when all hope in Westminster will be lost. What it will mean for Ireland is unknown, it will depend on whether or not Leo Varadkar can compete against Boris’ charm offensive, which has garnered him so many devotees. To amuse myself, I sometimes imagine a female Boris on the political stage. She is a woman who turns up unprepared for speeches and unsure of who she is addressing. She is a woman who cheats on her partner repeatedly. She is a woman who goes back on her word. Then I remind myself, that if Boris were a woman, he wouldn’t be on the stage.

Patrick Foley: London: ‘Johnson will be a disaster’

Johnson will be a disaster as a prime minister. He has set out his stall out early by promising tax cuts for the highest earners as one of his campaign promises. His ignorance on the issues of EU, Ireland and the world generally (witness his attempts at diplomacy in Iran ) bodes very ill indeed for his premiership.

John O’Boyle, Belfast: ‘Brexit will destroy him’

John O'Boyle.
John O'Boyle.

I am an Irish law graduate normally based in Belfast but currently living on a working holiday visa in Australia. I have been watching the politics of my home country with a growing sense of horror, with Boris Johnson becoming the prime minister of the UK. He is an English nationalist (not even for the whole of England as he has said incredibly offensive and condescending things about the people of Liverpool), and a liar. The silver lining? I predict his personal success coincides with the destruction of the Conservative Party. Brexit will destroy him (politically speaking, which is ironic as it has also been key to his political sense), his party and usher in a new watershed moment in British politics. The election of a left wing democratic socialist Corbyn-led Labour government.

Rory Mullins, England: ‘Johnson is a clown’

Rory Mullins.
Rory Mullins.

I moved to England in 2011 and am very happy living here except for one thing - the pathetic state of politics currently. The Tories are seemingly intent on ruining the country. Johnson is a clown, a buffoon, and I cannot understand how he is on the doorstep of No 10. I am also amazed by the overall apathy of the general public, both at the general incompetence of the Tory government, and the imminent fate that is about to befall them. The whole blasted affair saddens me beyond belief.

Mark Boyle, UK: ‘We are in a heap of trouble’

Boris. Bojo. The Ender of Worlds. We are in a heap of trouble.

Patrick Regan, UK: ‘ I loathe the man and his politics’

I almost 61 and was born in Hackney. Both my parents were from Co Cork (I think they met at a Cork Association dance) and we were part of the London Irish community, church, dances, GAA games and for the month of August, residents of west Cork. In my adulthood (much to my parents discomfort), I became active in left wing causes, groups and trade unionism. So to Brexit, I’m one of the old guard, who still believes like late Labour MP Tony Benn that the EU is anti-democratic. I voted in 2016 on the issue of sovereignty (even I was too young to be able to vote in 1975). In regards to Boris Johnson, I loathe the man and his politics, he is a chancer, and I don’t think he will deliver Brexit. I hope we have a general election soon.

Martina McCarthy, London: ‘Boris is a bulldozer and he will compromise the Border arrangements’

I’m appalled to think that someone like Boris Johnson can come into power and become prime minister. He’s a reminder of all that is elitist, classist, colonial and power hungry with his posture, attitudes and language being so outdated and inappropriate. Most worrying, one asks what this means for Anglo Irish relations. Boris is a bulldozer and he will undoubtedly compromise the Border arrangements with Brexit. Look how his diplomacy career went! He is unashamedly brazen and arrogant with no sophistication, integrity or honesty about him. He is a UK version of Donald Trump in ways.

Adam Behan, Cambridgeshire: ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

The realisation in recent months that Johnson will become the UK’s next prime minister has been very distressing. I do not believe he is capable of (or has any interest in) understanding the world through anything other than his own socioeconomic lens, one which comes from a place of extreme wealth and privilege, because if he did he would have ruled out a no-deal Brexit instead of beckoning it. The livelihoods of the less well-off are being sacrificed for jingoism and laughable notions of British exceptionalism. Neither Johnson nor anyone else has a clue how a hard Brexit will turn out. All he can possibly know is that, whatever happens, he will be fine. Poorer people and immigrants will not be.

I am a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, and I’m based in one of its more traditionally conservative colleges, Peterhouse. What I find most worrying is a tendency among Conservative types that I come across, all highly intelligent people, to serve up the equivalent of “Boris Johnson? Ah, he’ll be grand. What’s the worst that can happen?” when the topic crops up in conversation. Some British attitudes are dishearteningly unsympathetic towards or unaware of what Brexit could mean for Ireland.

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