How Brexit is Boris Johnson’s defining moment – Bernard Ingham

WHAT a week! The Tories walloped by the Liberal Democrats in the true-blue Chilterns, with Labour nowhere. England couldn’t even beat Scotland. And my birthday on Monday could not celebrate the end of Covid restrictions.

This was Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing the Brexit trade deal with the EU in 10 Downing Street last December .
This was Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing the Brexit trade deal with the EU in 10 Downing Street last December .

But the good news is that today is the fifth anniversary of the glorious Brexit referendum.

The only amazing thing is that I have survived to tell the tale. Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing Brexit done. But Boris did it.

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Democracy triumphed and the overall verdict is that Britain is better for it.

This was Boris Johnson campaigning with Selby MP Nigel Adams on the final day of the EU referendum campaign in June 2016.

This is not to ignore some of the less welcome consequences.

First, it has demonstrated that 
Britain is divided between the Eurosceptic North and Midlands – 
Red Wall country now painted blue – 
and the metropolitan “elite” who pretend to know what’s good for us.

Second, the Labour Party clings 
to its Europhilia like a drowning 
man at straws. Our alternative government is at odds with what 
used to be its heartlands. That is not 
good for the governance of Britain. It won’t keep a relatively inexperienced Tory Government’s noses to the grindstone.

Third, it has both fuelled and undermined the Scottish independence movement. Where is the burning 
desire for independence when, 
having thrown the English yoke, you are bent on becoming subservient to Brussels?

Boris Johnson in front of the bus that became the centre of attention during EU referendum campaigning.

Fourth, Northern Ireland sticks out like a political sore thumb. The EU has weaponised the border with the Irish Republic so that the supply of English sausages, Welsh rarebit and Scottish haggis to Ulstermen has become a bureaucratic farce. It is an affront to the integrity of the UK.

And, fifth, the whole experience of seceding from the EU has demonstrated that so long as France and Germany rule the roost in Brussels the EU is going to be a pain to live with.

It is, of course, true that the dire predictions of cross-Channel trade chaos from January were grossly exaggerated. Lorries did not for long pile up on the approaches to Dover. The pandemic has probably caused more trade problems than Euro red-tape.

But the fact remains that the EU, with its present integrationist mind-set, is vindictive towards the UK for having the temerity to kiss it goodbye. Time may be a great healer, but it is going to take the EU some years to recover from the affront to its amour propre and the challenge to its great federal project of a United States of Europe.

This always assumes that the great project survives. Recent polls show that majorities in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria are against it.

Whether that will carry through into national elections is another matter. We shall know better from this autumn after the Germans go to the polls followed by the French next year.

In the meantime, it is thumbs up for Brexit. Our economy is predicted to come roaring back as vaccines tame Covid-19.

Our global influence remains unaffected. Boris Johnson has just presided over the G7 summit and will 
be in the chair at the 26th UN conference on climate change in Glasgow in November.

Trade Minister, Liz Truss, is underlining our openness to the world with a tally so far of 67 post-Brexit trade deals, though she needs to reassure our farmers that they will not be imperilled by inferior standards abroad.

Our new freedom of manoeuvre has been triumphantly demonstrated by our Covid vaccination success.

Nothing could have illustrated Brussels’ bureaucratic inertia better 
than its failure to protect its 450m citizens.

In the process, it has also blown to smithereens the unity and cohesion of the EU. What did national elected politicians – EU leaders – do when 
they found themselves without 
vaccines?

Why, it was every man for himself in the scramble. They even resorted to buying Russian and Chinese vaccines, although Communism is a major threat to the West.

Not that we should be surprised. Germany is building a gas pipeline 
from Russia – and to hell with Western security – because it doubts whether its so-called green policy can keep the lights on.

Brexit will have achieved much for Western solidarity if the EU rejects the federal route and goes for an alliance of 27 nation states.

I shall believe it when I see it.

Whatever, Boris has secured for us mastery of our own fate after 47 mis-spent years.

We have no one else to blame if we blow it.

And if the Scots are as canny as they are supposed to be they will stick with us. A sclerotic EU is not the way forward.

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