What a Boris government may mean for Britain
Tom Fowdy

Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the United States. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Yesterday saw the Conservative politician Boris Johnson launch his bid for the party's leadership following the scheduled departure of Theresa May. 

Boris, largely seen as the frontrunner by British media, stated that Britain must leave the European Union by October 31 without delay, warning that failing to do so would see the public desert the ruling party and result in Jeremy Corbyn becoming the prime minister. 

Although he stated he had a "credible plan" to secure the scheduled exit date, he did not elaborate on any details. In doing so, he stated that whilst a "no deal" outcome was undesirable, such must be used as a tool in order to gain leverage against Brussels.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson leaves a house in London on June 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Conservative MP Boris Johnson leaves a house in London on June 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

There is no question that a Boris Johnson Premiership is bad news for those wanting either a pragmatic Brexit or to reverse the process completely. Utilizing his famous inflammatory remarks, a Boris government would likely pursue a renewed confrontation against Brussels with the bid to winning back support leaked to Nigel Farage's party, pledging a tougher, cleaner and seemingly idealistic Brexit. That is, however, where the rhetoric ends.

Whilst a renewed Eurosceptic approach would certainly win the rebels back on board who undermined Theresa May, there is minimal chance that Brussels are going to offer any new incentives on the existing deal. This is inevitably going to drive the threat of a "no deal" to the wire. In summary, it's all very bad news for markets and certainty in general.

Theresa May's premiership was politically hamstrung not only owing to her lack of a majority in the House of Commons, but by being undermined by Eurosceptic rebels and the Democratic Unionist Party who saw her withdrawal agreement as an affront to British sovereignty, of which the "backstop" issue with Northern Ireland was the key sticking point. This controversy saw her deal get defeated multiple times, which eventually gave her little choice but to leave the stage.

Theresa May arrives to attend a Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in central London, on March 11, 2019. /VCG Photo

Theresa May arrives to attend a Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in central London, on March 11, 2019. /VCG Photo

Now, Boris Johnson is taking the reins of the Eurosceptic faction. Having been instrumental in rebellions against May, the former Mayor of London now pledges to renegotiate with Europe and push out a departure on the October 31 deadline, noting that his party's credibility depends on it. To do so, he is threatening a no deal outcome. Commanding the most endorsements from Conservative MPs and ultimately having the dissenters on board, he will be without a doubt able to command more authority than Theresa May and is not likely to be placed in the same position of weakness.

On this note, should be elected, his approach is going to be immediately inflammatory, confrontational and hardline. Seeking to win back support lost to Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, Boris will undoubtedly whip up nationalist euphoria and push against every boundary in talks with Europe. In some senses, we can anticipate a "UK Donald Trump," someone who is in essence controversial, abrasive and unpredictable, but with a slightly more "British" demeanor to it all.

What, however, will it achieve? Although Boris may be a stronger prime minister authoritatively, the geopolitical reality of one country facing up against 27 whom form a unified, consensus-led and solidified diplomatic strategy does not change. Brussels have long been clear that the deal which was offered to Theresa May is the only deal they were prepared to give -- there would be no additions. Boris will seek to press against that as far as he can, probably in the areas of customs and the border issue. However, some Brexit supporters end up again disappointed.

Regardless, there is one thing which is certain should this scenario materialize: that is, ironically, uncertainty. A Boris government's threat of a hard Brexit and confrontational postures will send shivers through markets, investors and industries in Britain alike. It will cause economic disruption and take a toll on the country's economy. Thus, placing a successful Brexit above economic incentives is a gamble he is taking.

However, this is the age of populism in the West: where nationalism and emotion count more for many people's preferences than economics and prosperity. After all, the fact that about 17.4 million people voted for Brexit in spite of such warnings is an indicator already of the mood amongst some circles in the UK. 

Thus, in summary, the Boris premiership could prove to be the ultimate accumulation of it all. What we are seeing in Washington could be about to firmly root itself in Downing Street. As he lingers as the frontrunner, it's going to be a turbulent time for Britain. Making no mistake about it, the country will never be the same again.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)