Boris Johnson’s greatest challenge is now Scottish independence – Bernard Ingham

AFTER several traumatic weeks comes the inquest. Whither the EU? Whither Scotland? And whither the Labour Party. What a mess of perverse pottage!

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (Covid-19) from Downing Street's new White-House style media briefing room in Westminster, London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus (Covid-19) from Downing Street's new White-House style media briefing room in Westminster, London.

In a sense the three questions are related. This is because Scotland wants to ditch Great Britain for the EU and because, I suspect, the Labour Party is essentially pro-EU.

It used to consider the EU a capitalist rump but realised some time ago that it is essentially socialist and will deliver more to Labour’s liking than Westminster.

Fortunately, the Europhilia of Scottish Nationalists and Labour has been overtaken by Covid events.

Boris Johnson is emerging as a strong leader on the world stage, writes Bernard Ingham.

It means that the SNP could not have chosen a worse time for the second independence referendum it will demand if it wins the election in May.

How could any sane country want to join the EU when it is coming apart at the seams?

It raises serious questions about the SNP’s political judgment when its Anglophobia impels it to seek to join an institution that has amply demonstrated during the pandemic that it could not run the proverbial whelk stall.

It has also demonstrated the EU’s contempt for peripheral minnows in its 27-nation firmament by trying to stop Covid vaccination doses from crossing the Irish border into the UK.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing mounting challenges ahead of the Holyrood elections.

At the same time it has added petty vindictiveness to the EU’s ample charge sheet that includes democratic deficiency, unelected bureaucracy, protectionism, corruption, extravagance with taxpayers’ money and pretention in its claim to statehood.

Only an abomination of all things English could propel Scotland into the arms of such a defective and divided dump.

The situation is in no way altered by the further evidence of Anglophobia from Alex Salmond who, in the wake of his spat with Nicola Sturgeon, is launching a new party to rival the SNP – and its obsession with independence and subservience to Brussels.

How puny and peevish Scottish politics now looks to any objective observer.

Boris Johnson met Angela Merkel shortly after becoming Prime Minister in the summer of 2019.

A perfect match – if you ignore the tartan – for the EU’s juvenilia over Covid vaccines.

It may be argued that the Franco-German axis has not yet got its way over blocking exports of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine regardless of contracts.

But don’t count on it. I would not in the least be surprised if they threw Boris Johnson’s magnanimity in his face in offering to share production. Hell hath no fury like an EU scorned.

And where would Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, be then, poor thing?

Would his deeply divided party allow him to stand four-square with Boris Johnson against vindictiveness?

Who would have thought we would ever be saying “Bring back Jean-Claude Juncker”, the former Commission president, who has warned against the stupidity of trade embargoes?

But this is the West’s problem today – an acute shortage of experienced statesmen and women, while those who have some experience are tarred with various brushes.

Take, for example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She is on her way out after 16 years and stands accused of landing the EU with a serious immigration problem, pursuing the failing federal movement bent on creating a European super-state starting with a single currency and now foisting the bumbling Ursula von der Leyen on the Commission as Juncker’s successor.

As for French President Emmanuel Macron, let’s just say he’s nobbut a pretty face – as the French are realising.

At the same time the USA has its oldest ever elected president in Joe Biden who admits he his gaffe-prone.

Latterly, however, he has redeemed himself in my eyes by criticising the German construction of a gas pipeline from Russia – more evidence to tarnish Mrs Merkel’s escutcheon by putting the West’s energy supplies in hoc to its covetous enemy.

Thank God we have Boris Johnson at the British helm. He has done us three great services: securing independence from the EU, putting Jeremy Corbyn to flight and leading our magnificent vaccine response to Covid-19.

He will do the world a service if he can lead responsible EU opinion away from debilitating federalism to a Europe of freely co-operating and competing nation states.

It is a tall order but the current mess only encourages Moscow and Beijing in their de-stabilisation of the West.

His trophy cupboard will be full if, over the next month, he can persuade the Scots to forget all about secession and instead strive to strengthen instead of weaken a shining example of Western democracy.

Let’s hope Boris proves to be what Napoleon prized: not merely a good general but a lucky one. Greatness awaits his achieving what now seems unlikely.

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