Weekly Letter to the President
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ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
July 26, 2019 (posted July 30, 2019)
Mr. President: So Boris Johnson has become Britain's prime minister. He has been
trying and scheming, scheming and trying including undermining David Cameron. A
'remainer' before, Johnson saw political capital in the 'leave' campaign, and in a
sudden about turn became its face and leading campaigner. Always superb at the
latter and having the inbuilt advantage of a clown's rapport with his public, he is given
credit (or blamed) for the 'leave' victory in the referendum. It certainly was a
turnaround for when the then prime minister, David Cameron promised the
referendum, no one believed Britain would vote to leave -- a vote that has divided the
union as both Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain.
Boris has promised brexit, deal or no-deal, by October 31. A no-deal brexit would
hurt the EU but cause much more damage to the UK economy. Since Boris refuses to
rule out prorogation of parliament to achieve his ends, parliament has voted to
ensure parliament will continue to legislate by requiring it to consider a Northern
Ireland bill every two weeks . In effect the Boris no-deal brexit bomb has been
defused, at least for the time being.
Brexit itself and its economic cost remain. If its supporters like Nigel Farage thought
trade with the US will recompense the losses, they are in for a surprise. As Trump's
'America first' policy has made abundantly clear, the US will be a tough negotiator on
any trade deal.
All that is later. The first problem Boris faces is one of uniting the parliamentary party
and securing its support. Philip Hammond the Chancellor of the Exchequer (akin to
Treasury Secretary) has resigned and the other most important job, that of Foreign
Secretary is held by Jeremy Hunt his defeated rival. He has refused to quit and has
turned down a demotion to defense secretary. Sajid Javid's job as home secretary
has been given to Priti Patel and Javid himself, a former banker, has been appointed
to Hammond's position as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first ethnic minority
person to hold such a high level post.
How Johnson will fare with Hunt's supporters remains to be seen.
Dominic Raab receives the foreign porfolio with the additional title of First Secretary of
State giving him the most senior rank in the cabinet after the prime minister. Raab's
father was Jewish although he himself was brought up in his mother's Church of
England faith. As a young man, he spent the summer of 1998 at Birzeit University in
the West Bank near Ramallah working for one of the principal Palestinian negotiators
of the Oslo Peace Accords. Will we see any progress with peace in Israel/Palestine?
At the end of the cabinet reshuffle, the startling fact is that Boris has fired over half of
Theresa May''s cabinet. No room for bridge building, the new cabinet is exclusively
'leavers' or right-wingers or Boris supporters. Exactly how that unites is difficult to
fathom. We now have to wait and see when the disgruntled former ministers or their
supporters will decide to wield their knives. George Canning had the shortest term in
office serving just 119 days, and Johnson's October 31st brexit deadline is exactly 99
days from when he took office. Will he set a new record?
Meanwhile, Boris has his work cut out for him. Not just brexit but Iran is sitting on two
British-flagged tankers. Does Britannia still rule the waves? Not bloody likely, to use
a British colloquialism, or so it seems.