Big Spending, Pro-Amnesty Boris: Brexit Aside, What Kind of ‘Conservative’ Will PM Johnson Be?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with newly-elected Conservative MPs at the Houses of Parliament on December 16, 2019 in London, England. Boris Johnson called a General Election to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit and was rewarded with a clear majority of 80. He …
Getty Images

A former Conservative colleague of Boris Johnson has highlighted the prime minister’s “centre-left” instincts, particularly his high-spending habits, a further concern about the direction of travel for the country alongside Johnson’s pro-open borders views.

Former Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey — who was one of the 21 MPs suspended by Boris Johnson in September 2019 over their failure to support the prime minister over Brexit — has told British television the perception among the hard-left that Johnson is a right-wing demagogue is a misconception.

Explaining that the prime minister actually is much more centrist, and could even qualify as being a centre-left leader for the country, Vaizey said: “I used to tease Boris Johnson a bit when I used to describe him as continuity Cameron… I think he is a centrist politician. I would almost now say that he will be a centre-left Conservative prime minister.”

The former minister continued on the profligacy of the prime minister: “Boris is not shy about spending money… you should remember there is a passion and a drive at the centre of Downing Street to make a difference, not just because of political strategy or opportunity.”

While Mr Vaizey came very much from the centre-wing of the Conservative Party himself and may be projecting his own hopes and desires onto the prime minister, it is no secret that part of Boris Johnson’s electoral success — twice as mayor of the notoriously left-leaning London and now once as prime minister — comes from his broad appeal, being all things to all people.

Once the Brexit process is convincingly underway, the United Kingdom will still have years of Boris Johnson prime minister ahead of it, and with such a thumping majority in the Commons, he will be able to rule the country as he sees fit and with minimal challenge, as Labour’s Tony Blair did with his radical and forceful programme of change in the 1990s and 2000s.

While the Conservatives have historically only had a tenuous relationship with the promises made in their election manifestos, the 2019 snap election edition of the document gives key insights into where Britain may be in five years under Boris Johnson. While Mr Vaizey notes “Boris is not shy about spending money”, the Prime Minister has already had to cancel promised tax cuts made at the start of the election campaign after an unprecedented spending spree to woo voters made them utterly unaffordable.

As reported in November, voters would no longer be looking forward to an income tax cut, nor businesses to a corporation tax cut, after the Chancellor announced £13.8 billion in extra spending for 2020-21. Meanwhile, British government debt stands at £1.8 trillion: 85 per cent of GDP.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s view on immigration, while quite radical for the Conservative Party he leads, are comparatively little known — and a question mark hangs over what his long-term leadership will bring. While the manifesto promised an Australian-style points system — something enthused about by right-wing border control advocates in the United Kingdom for years — the proposed system lacks a key component of the Australian system: an overall annual migration cap.

Speaking to Breitbart London shortly before the election, Alp Mehmet — himself a migrant and one of the most consistent advocates for immigration control in the United Kingdom — said the Conservatives were “running scared” of the immigration debate and rejected the new policy as a “nonsense” which would not bring down overall migration levels.

Failing to institute a migration cap puts the government at odds with the vast majority of the British people — polling released before the election revealed 71 per cent of voters said there should be a hard limit on annual arrivals, with support coming from nearly all demographics, ages, and genders.

The polling prompted Brexit leader Nigel Farage to note it was time the country “got serious” on the topic of immigration, but he questioned whether the Conservatives would actually work to reduce overall migration levels at all, which they have failed to — despite repeated promises — over the past nine years.

While immigration has barely featured in the 2019 election campaign, it is a long-term interest for the prime minister, albeit in a direction that would likely surprise many Conservative voters.

As Breitbart London reported when he became prime minister, granting amnesty to illegal migrants has been a recurring theme for Mr Johnson. Just days later, he confirmed the trend — using his first speech at the dispatch box as Tory leader to tell the House of Commons that rather than seeking to expel illegal migrants they should be given an amnesty instead.

The whole concept of amnesties for illegal migrants — in effect rewarding breaking the law by giving those who successfully break into a country paperwork rather than punishing them — is a hot political topic in the United States but hardly features in the United Kingdom, at least so far.

These trends have not gone totally unnoticed, however. Ben Harris-Quinney — chairman of the conservative Bow Group think tank that counted Margaret Thatcher as a patron until her death and now is supported by such giants of the British right as Lord Tebbit, Professor Roger Scruton, and Dr David Starkey — told Breitbart London: “There is no doubt that what carried Boris to Number 10 with the biggest majority since Thatcher was his embracing of Brexit and the perception that he offered an end to the May and Cameron years and a return to full bloodied conservatism and patriotism.

“There are many ideologically famished veteran Eurosceptics and wise conservatives who have already declared Boris to be the saviour.

“They so want to believe, as do I, that the years of milquetoast handwringing are over and the conservatism that the nation badly needs to counter decades of drift will be implemented.”

But despite the hope, Harris-Quinney said, Boris Johnson’s actions were likely to be matched by his own words: “A study of Boris’s form would suggest otherwise, however. He has described himself the only genuinely pro-immigration politician in Britain, advocated for an immigration amnesty, and recently proposed that he was ‘the most liberal Conservative PM in decades‘. His tirades against Trump seem to have gone unnoticed in Washington, but he is far more comfortable among Democrat company in the US.

“Might he recognise the base that has elected him want genuine conservatism and change tack now?”

Key British right-wing commentator Peter Hitchens also notes that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is undoubtedly a social and moral liberal, and, he claims, is to the left of even Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on issues like gay rights. Hitchens concludes that: “What Mr. Johnson has done, in my view, is portray himself as the new Blair, a friendly, smiling figurehead, accessible and charming, who appears unthreatening while concealing a vast agenda of change.”

Consider yourself warned.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.