I’ve never liked his politics, but I’ve always thought Boris Johnson had a high level of native wit and no little intelligence. His attacks on Barack Obama’s intervention in the Euro Referendum debate seem to suggest both have “gone south”.
This seems to be having been a building crescendo over the past week. The US position is “paradoxical”. “Boris Rage at “Ridiculous, Weird Obama” blasted the Mail on Sunday on its front page. It is “hypocritical” says Johnson because the President wants the UK to give up sovereignty, something inconceivable in the US, and, because of his part-Kenyan heritage, Obama has a historic dislike of the British empire – a remark which caused outrage (though more for it’s arguable racism than it’s stupidity). All things considered “for the US it is do as I say not do as I do”
For a clever man, Johnson has lost the plot – irrespective of how/if you intend to vote on 23 June.
Put simply, Boris has his history wrong. Yes, it is hard to imagine the US “giving up sovereignty” but this is the wrong standpoint. US states (50 of them) have already done what Johnson says the US would not. They formed the USA. They fought an exceptionally bloody (and in Europe, rather overshadowed) civil war to test the boundary between state and supra-state powers. It is still a big issue – look at the apparent contradiction between the US constitution and discrimination against the transgender community in North Carolina. Look how hard it is to move on health care or gun control. But there is an overarching structure that each state has ceded power to. Goodness, the USA even has a common currency.
With justification therefore, Obama can offer a view on the UK/EU relationship from a nation that has eaten the pie, worn the t-shirt, and still arguing about the self-same issues.
And of course, Britain likes Barack. Most of know what a big deal a black President is given the level of racism still in the US. He has huge credibility and charisma.
And although countries naturally don’t like others poking their noses into their business, he is entitled to a view: “They are voicing an opinion about what the United States is going to do; I figured you might want to hear from the president of the United States what I think the United States is going to do”
Let’s not be dewy-eyed about the notion of a US foreign policy free of self-interest. But we all have a right to be treated with more respect than we are currently getting in the EU debate. In the wise words of eminent newspaper man Stig Abell, Johnson has just “trumped himself out of a political future”