I haven’t craved alcohol once during my pregnancy. But I did develop a hankering for prosecco while watching Boris Johnson announce his intention to resign as Prime Minister.
’ve disliked many Prime Ministers in my lifetime, but I genuinely loathe Boris Johnson. Sleekit, self-interested and callous, good riddance to him. No doubt he’ll be a nuisance out of office but watching him leave Downing Street will put a smile on my face.
Allow me that moment of happiness because Johnson’s replacement will be just as bad.
It is now down to the final two in the battle to become Prime Minister. Liz Truss v Rishi Sunak. A duo of doom and mediocrity. Which candidate is best for Northern Ireland? None of the above.
This week Sinn Fein announced the establishment of a Commission and a People’s Assembly to discuss a united Ireland. I’ve written before about my problem with the so-called “conversation” and its complete lack of depth, detail and nuance. As long as the Tories remain in office, nationalists and republicans have a never-ending propaganda tool.
Take Sunak, the multi-millionaire former Chancellor. He has all the energy of the school prefect you hated. Sunak gave the banks a tax break while refusing to raise benefits in line with inflation.
Then there’s Truss, the former Remainer and Liberal Democrat. She is running as a Margaret Thatcher tribute act. During the leadership debates she resembled a robot, her answers stilted as the minions in her brain smashed buttons in earnest.
After edging out Penny Mordaunt by 113 votes to 105 in today’s ballot to join Sunak, who polled 137, Truss is the current favourite to replace Johnson. Responsible for the NI Protocol Bill, she is the candidate of choice for some unionists. They believe she will continue to push a hard line against the EU and not abandon the current approach.
Remainers have vague hope that Sunak will adopt a softer, more pragmatic approach to the protocol. Despite voting Leave, he pushed back against Truss and Johnson’s approach to the EU in cabinet meetings.
Why anybody has faith in these candidates is beyond me. Each one seems prepared to say and do anything to get into power. Northern Ireland did not feature heavily in the leadership debates. They probably thought Belfast was a posh sink until Brexit happened.
Northern Ireland is a bit part in a wider Tory power struggle. The party has treated us with nothing but contempt for a very long time. It beggars’ belief that the DUP voted to show confidence in Johnson in Parliament.
Unionists are risking everything by pegging themselves to the Tories, again. The only path forward, the only way to resolve the protocol, is for parties in Northern Ireland to sit down and come to a common position. Everybody is going to have to compromise.
Unionists need to understand that even if the Tories manage to fix the protocol, their destructive economic policies will do damage. Covid proved that the government is capable of largescale spending to fix structural issues.
Instead, we’re back to nonsense talk about the economy being a household. The Tories talk of efficiency savings and austerity 2.0. They talk of attacking the European Convention on Human Rights, a fundamental guarantee in the Good Friday Agreement. Privatisation of the NHS is happening slowly as the system breaks under the weight of years of government neglect.
England is (literally) burning as a climate change induced heatwave scorches the ground. As Nigel Farage moves against net zero, key players in the Tory party are preparing to push back against climate policies that could save humanity from extinction.
What are the Tory candidates talking about? Trans people and gender-neutral toilets. My trans family members are the real moral panic, not the heatwaves, the droughts or the melting glaciers.
A Labour government would be better, but only just. Keir Starmer seems afraid to be the Leader of the Opposition. Despite running on a left-wing platform, he too has abandoned most of his principles. At least the Labour party includes people who want to tackle climate change, the cost-of-living crisis and widespread inequality.
In the past, Britain has set an example for Northern Ireland when it comes to policy. From equal marriage, abortion, housing and the welfare state, many of us have looked across the Irish sea and hoped for better. Few do that now.
Vote for a United Ireland, I hear you cry. No thank you. I have no desire to replace English Tories with Irish ones. Sinn Fein market themselves a left-wing party, but I reckon they will move to the centre as time goes on.
As Britain moves in a darker, destructive direction, Northern Ireland should lead the way and do what’s right. We should legislate, in so far as possible, to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, the housing crisis and fix the health service.
We need to push back against the rightward lurch of England. If we don’t, expect supporters of a united Ireland to grow in confidence.
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