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Post Boris Johnson as PM and Brexit
Created by John Eipper on 06/25/19 4:55 AM

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Boris Johnson as PM and Brexit (Timothy Ashby, -Spain, 06/25/19 4:55 am)

Despite Boris Johnson's domestic spats--the most recent apparently caused by his spilling red wine on his current lover's sofa--he seems on track to win the Conservative Party's leadership race against the lacklustre Jeremy Hunt and become the UK's next Prime Minister. If he persists in in pledge to crash out of the EU on October 31st if no new "deal" can be achieved with the EU (an impossible goal given the limited timeframe) his days as PM could be numbered.

While his moral turpitude is on a level with Donald Trump, Boris is really not "Britain's Trump."  While he shares philandering, tantrums, arrogance and erratic behaviour with the Donald, he is far more intelligent, worldly and better educated. Although I think his premiership will be short-lived, Boris is quite capable of "pivoting"--especially regarding his Brexit pledges--which has led to widespread distrust among Brexiteers, not to mention those "Remainer" grandees such as the venerable Kenneth Clarke, the "father of the House," who have threatened to bring down Boris in a vote of no confidence if he persists in pursuing a no-deal Brexit.

I predict that the UK won't leave the EU on Halloween and that a beleaguered PM Johnson will call a General Election in the fall. Resolving the Brexit nightmare would be only one reason for calling an election. The other is that the Tories are aware that Labour believes that a party led by Corbyn and his Momentum Marxists would not be able to win enough seats to form a government (even in a coalition with the Scottish National Party), and that there is a growing movement to replace Corbyn with a more moderate, younger Labour leader, such as Sir Keir Starmer (Shadow Brexit Minister), Emily Thornberry (Shadow Foreign Minister), or even David Miliband, who--while no longer an MP--has been recently featured on several "talking heads" TV programs. I have been told by several senior Tories that any Labour leader other than Corbyn would beat the Conservatives by 20 percentage points.

Johnson supporters think that even if they fail to win a parliamentary majority (which is the current state of affairs as the Tories are only in power because of support by the Northern Irish DUP), they could form a government with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party. I think this is unlikely as various polls indicate that independent (i.e. non-registered as Tory) voters who had previously voted Conservative would shift their support to the Liberal Democrats.

Many of these voters are now thoroughly disillusioned with the rank and file Tories, and for good reason. A recent YouGov poll (18 June) of "card-carrying" Conservative Party members showed that 46% would be happy for Nigel Farage to become their party's leader. Many Conservative members now put securing Brexit before anything else--54% would be willing to countenance the destruction of their own party to see Brexit achieved. More than six out of ten, 63%, said that they would rather Brexit took place even if it caused Scotland to leave the UK, and 59% said the same even if Northern Ireland then left the UK.

61% of those surveyed said that they would rather Brexit took place even if it caused significant damage to the economy. However, only 39% would rather that Brexit happened even if it led to Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister, compared with 51% who would rather Brexit did not happen if Mr Corbyn entered Downing Street as a result.

It should be noted there are only around 160,000 registered members of the Conservative Party (out of a voting population of 45,775,800). These are the minuscule group of people will will choose the next British Prime Minister.

JE comments:  Will we be talking of Boris the Brief?  He strikes me as too clever to limit himself to a short stay at 10 Downing St, but Timothy Ashby has his finger on the pulse of UK Conservative politics more than anyone in WAIS.  I am most shocked that nearly half of card-carrying Tories would be OK with Farage in charge.

Tim, what can you tell us about Farage and Johnson's personal relationship?  I presume it's not good--two alpha dogs, prima donnas, etc.

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  • UK Political Class: A "Race to the Bottom" (John Heelan, -UK 06/26/19 4:19 AM)
    Good analysis by Tim Ashby (25 June). It is no wonder that the UK electorate has lost confidence in its political class with the race for the Premiership developing into a "Race to the Bottom," as people like me try to determine which candidate is the least trustworthy to enter the door of number 10. Both Boris and Hunt have been quiet about their plans for achieving Brexit. Boris leaps back to his "Hail fellow: well met persona" despite his sundry amatory companions over the years have learned from bitter experience not to trust his well-oiled zipper, whereas Hunt's mismanagement has already screwed up the jewel in the UK's political crown--the NHS. Choose between a clown and a robotic political manager? My choice would be not to vote for either of them (or Corbyn) in a future General Election.

    MPs betrayed their constituencies by not representing the wishes of their electorates as identified in the 2016 Referendum, and the failing gasps of UK democracy resound through the corridors of Westminster.

    One wonders about the going price for those MPs persuaded to change their votes of support for the candidates. The price would vary according to the promise of a peerage or knighthood in a future Honours List, or the promise of a post-politics career as a board member of a US Private Health Insurance corporation.

    The UK political future is bleak.

    JE comments:  Politics are at a new low everywhere you look.  Here's a question for the WAISitudes:  who is the least unsavory head of state at present?  I'm fond of Justin Trudeau immediately to our north, but we don't really know what he's up to.

    John, could you give us a sense of how the scurrying for votes works?  Are Johnson's people actively telephoning Tory MPs with "offers"?  Isn't such a practice illegal, at least in theory?

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  • Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage: at Drawn Swords (Timothy Ashby, -Spain 06/26/19 4:41 AM)
    John Eipper asked about Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson's personal relationship.

    The two politicians are at drawn swords (figuratively but if they were living two centuries ago it would be literally). Boris detests Nigel and like most other traditional (e.g. Carlton Club) Conservatives, considers him and his Brexit Party a greater existential threat than Jeremy Corbyn and his Momentum compañeros. Yesterday Boris promised to "do or die" to deliver Brexit and put Farage "back in his box."

    I would be curious to know if fellow WAISers Nigel Jones and John Heelan feel as I do that the UK is becoming a more unhappy, unfriendly and polarised place. I recently spoke privately with the delightful historian and Churchill scholar Andrew Roberts, who expressed the opinion that the UK had never been as divided politically and angrily since the Civil War. According to a recent poll from BritainThinks, 69% of Britons are feeling pessimistic about the state of national unity and democracy. And while the roots of the causes runs deep, Brexit has been found to be leaving many Brits anxious and antagonistic.  75% of those surveyed said that Britain's political system is "not fit for purpose" and less than 6% say that politicians understand them. As the Brexit crisis continues and the Tories engage in electing a new leader, only 21% of respondents believe, that no matter who is prime minister, that they will be up to the tasks facing the country.

    In an interview, the BritainThinks pollster Deborah Mattinson said: "I have been listening to people in focus groups since the late 1980s and I cannot recall a time when the national mood was more despairing. 'Broken', 'sad', 'worried', 'angry'--the negatives tumble out, as does the long list of grievances. I'm hearing anxieties voiced in a way that I haven't heard since the 1990s: a rundown NHS, job insecurity, teacher shortages."

    People who remember WWII tell me that the UK is radically different in a negative sense than they remember from the '40s through the '70s. It is rare to hear strangers say "good morning" when passing on the street in London. People live in growing fear of crime, and will privately express the belief that the majority of it is caused by Afro-Caribbean and other Commonwealth, and Middle Eastern immigrants and their offspring. Sadly, crime statistics--which are suppressed by the government and media--confirm this.

    JE comments:  The "death of civility" is a common lament of our times, but one heard similar things in the past.  The US is also polarized like no time since 1861, but people still greet each other.  Do we mean it when we say "have a nice day"?  Did we ever?

    I hope we'll hear from our UK WAISers on this.

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    • UK in Decline? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/27/19 8:41 AM)
      Timothy Ashby in his post of June 26th asks if fellow British WAISers are worried about the present situation of the UK.

      Even if I am not British I humbly ask permission to express my feelings about the glorious UK.

      For starters, the "United Kingdom" seems rather obsolete, as it is now a country made up of 3 or better 4 nations united only by an English monarchy.

      The Scots are going back to the times before 1707. For them the new Scottish parliament of 1999 is a form of self-determination and not of devolution from the Westminster one.

      Northern Ireland looks back earlier, to 1177. The Protestant occupiers in Ulster in a couple of years will be a minority among a Catholic majority.  The Protestants are presently a majority in only four counties of the Northeast.

      Wales is going back to before 1301 and to Edward I, the strange (English) sovereign who was born in Wales few months earlier and who therefore did not speak English as requested by the Welsh. Nice trick but probably a legend.

      The three nations have their national parliaments but not England, whose parliament is of the whole UK.

      The worst case is London. Greater London is inhabited by 14 million people, of which at least 4 million are foreigners not properly assimilated, contrary to what happened in the past centuries when the new arrivals became British (if not necessarily "English"). Now some districts of North and Western London are full of foreigners with very little to do with the marvelous English style of life.

      Furthermore, Londoners seem to care only about immediate profit. After all the large financial district employs more than 2 million people with 11 billion pounds out but 71 billions in.

      Brexit may be the only chance for the English men and women to revive their insular empire, even if they lost the great overseas empire.  A loose union of English-speaking nations, of course dominated by the US, may give new life to the UK.

      The so-called European Union instead of uniting all Europe has created a poor bureaucratic system in which it seems that only the separatist aspirations of various regions have profited.

      By the way, in the 8° point of the 18 Points of Verona, the brief Constitution of the RSI, it is stated that a European Community shall be created but excluding the UK.

      Old Bastian Contrario remembers the song "La Sagra di Giarabub" that I used to sing as a kid.

      JE comments:  "The Siege of Giarabub" (Libya).  I'd like to know more about the song, which must have a thing or two to say about the perfidious English.  Sieges lend themselves to song--think of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and of course, those legendary walls of Jericho that Joshua made tumble down.

      I don't know the story of Edward of Wales.  Can you clarify, Eugenio?

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      • WAIS Song Time: "La Sagra di Giarabub" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/28/19 5:28 AM)
        John E asked about the Italian military song, "La sagra di Giarabub."

        Giarabub was a small oasis in the interior of Libya. Following the British offensive of the winter 1940 it remained surrounded, with only 1340 Italians and 750 Libyans with few small antitank guns facing an onslaught by air and land with numerous tanks of the British and Australian forces.

        The Italians resisted from early December 1940 until 21 March 1941 when the food, water and ammunition were exhausted.

        The song "La Sagra di Giarabub" became the most popular of the time.  A movie was also made. See Aldo Visconti, "La sagra di Giarabub" (con testo) - YouTube:


        The song concludes with "E la fine dell'Inghilterra incomincia da Giarabub" (and the end of Great Britain starts at Giarabub) .

        Now, regarding the Prince of Cymru. The tale goes that the English king Edward I defeated the Welsh independentists, whose leader Llywelyn was killed in battle in 1282. In order to appease them, Edward promised that he would nominate as Prince of Wales someone born in Wales and not speaking English. He named his son Edward II, born in 1284 at Caernarfom Castle.

        Still a baby, Edward II at the time could not speak English or any other language. But the official date of installment of Prince Edward is 1301. By that time the Prince should have been able to speak English, unless he was educated in the Norman French of the time. Maybe some British WAISer can explain better: Timothy Ashby?

        JE comments:  It's a catchy tune, and well worth a click.  I'm a peaceful guy, but the martial-sounding trumpets really put you in the mood to slay Englishmen.

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        • WAIS Song Time, Part Two: French SS and "Le chant du Diable" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/01/19 5:03 AM)
          On the topic of WWII-era songs, do not forget that the final brave defenders of Berlin were the French soldiers of the 33 Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS "Charlemagne."

          Most of the few survivors were immediately shot by both Russians and Gaullists. as per direct order of general Philippe Leclerc.

          See the French SS song "Le Chant du Diable": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyxRF6QBuoA

          JE comments:  "We struggle for Europe and liberty"--these things are a matter of perspective, to be sure.  Note too that the 33rd self-identifies with the Devil.  One can only ask, what motivated these fellows?  The Division was founded in 1944, when the Axis cause was already hopeless.

          Eugenio, the "Siege of Giarabub" is a much better song to my ears.  I'm sure you agree.

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          • "Le chant du Diable" and "SS Marschiert" (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 07/03/19 3:44 AM)
            "Le Chant du Diable" (Eugenio Battaglia, 1 July) is not indeed peculiar to the French Charlemagne Division; it is merely a French translation of the standard Waffen-SS marching song, "SS Marschiert":

            SS marschiert in Feindesland,

            Und singt ein Teufelslied.

            Ein Schütze steht am Oderstrand,

            Und leise summt er mit.

            Wir pfeifen auf Unten und Oben,

            Und uns kann die ganze Welt.

            Verfluchen oder auch loben,

            Grad wie es die wohl gefällt.

            Wo wir sind da geht's immer vorwärts,

            Und der Teufel der lacht nur dazu!

            Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

            Wir kämpfen für Deutschland,

            Wir kämpfen für Hitler,

            Der Rote kommt nie mehr zur Ruh'.

            Wir kämpften schon in mancher Schlacht,

            Im Nord, Süd, Ost und West.

            Und stehen nun zum Kampf bereit,

            Gegen die rote Pest.

            SS wird nicht ruh'n, wir vernichten,

            Bis niemand mehr stört Deutschlands Glück.

            Und wenn sich die Reihen auch lichten,

            Für uns gibt es nie ein Zurück.

            Wo wir sind da geht's immer vorwärts,

            Und der Teufel der lacht nur dazu!

            Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

            Wir kämpfen für Deutschland,

            Wir kämpfen für Hitler,

            Der Rote kommt nie mehr zur Ruh.

            The SS marches in the enemy land/And sings a devil's song . . . 


            JE comments:  Fascinating.  Given the international composition of the SS, this little ditty must exist in 20 or more languages--Arabic as well?  There were some Muslim SSers.

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            • Muslims in the SS (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/07/19 6:44 AM)
              John E wrote, "There were some Muslim SSers."

              It would be more correct to use the adjective "many" rather than some.

              The Muslims were mainly in the SS Division "Hanschar" from Bosnia, but also in the "Kama" (or 2nd Croatian) plus the Albanian Skanderbeg. There were also Muslims from the Caucasus, plus Turkmens, Indians, Tartars, Arabs, etc. Many other foreigners joined the Wehrmacht, including Muslims.

              In the past we mentioned Nazi propaganda to be dismissed.  I would like to comment on the Gleiwitz/Gliwice attack.  Was it Nazi propaganda or Empire propaganda?

              The world believes the story of the false-flag German attack on the radio station of Gleiwitz at 20:30 hours on 31 August 1939, as it was related by SS Sturmbannfuhrer Alfred Naujocks.

              This fellow in November 1944 deserted and surrendered to the American forces. At the Nuremberg Trials he left a written declaration describing the attack in great detail.  He then disappeared in Argentina. Only in 1966 was he arrested and sent back to Germany, where he suddenly died aged 55 of a heart attack.

              Hitler in his speech to the Reichstag stressed his readiness to fight for Germans abroad.  He mentioned 21 border incidents without any detail and never mentioned the great "casus belli" that would have been Gleiwitz.

              Does not sound strange? This is also the impression that the researcher/historian Jak Mallman-Showell has had recently.

              About suspicious confessions, Rudolf Hess declared that three million people were killed at Auschwitz, but now the official number of deaths is 1.1 million. The ill-famed British historian David Irving in his book Nuremberg, the Last Battle has a long list of interesting confessions and of similar facts which depending on the side ones are good the others are bad.  It is all strange.

              Happy 4th of July!

              JE comments:  So Gleiwitz was a "false false-flag" operation?  Eugenio, are you claiming that the incident indeed was carried out by irregular Polish troops, or that it never occurred at all?

              Regarding the deaths at Auschwitz, are we speaking of Rudolf Hess or Rudolf Höss?  I presume the latter, who was the camp's commandant.

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      • Edward Longshanks...and Polish Cavalry (Edward Jajko, USA 06/29/19 5:19 AM)
        In response to Eugenio Battaglia (June 27th), was Edward Longshanks not born in the Palace of Westminster?

        And is not a country made up of three or four nations, united by an English monarchy, a "United Kingdom"?

        One more comment on the Italian journalist as the source of the canard about Polish cavalry attacking German tanks: William Shirer viewed the Krojanty battle scene as well, and came to the same wrong conclusion, then compounded it by repeating it as fact in his Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

        JE comments:  I had to cobble together a bizarre title for this post.  Sorry, Ed.

        English monarchs were never my strong suit, but I do know a thing or two about Shirer.  Could we say that no other historian had a stronger impact on "our" attitudes towards Nazism and the European war in general?

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