They say history is written by the victors. But what happens when the victors of the Brexit referendum and the ‘Get Brexit Done’ election go on to preside over a series of unprecedented national calamities and scandals? And how might the history of the last couple of years look if subjected to Johnsonian levels of truth-twisting?
After winning a thumping majority in 2019 with his cast-iron promise to simply and effectively achieve Brexit, Boris Johnson went on to amply demonstrate the Churchillian qualities that he had written about so memorably in his critically acclaimed biography of the wartime leader.
Johnson quickly proved how right it had been to dismiss claims that Brexit would damage the UK economy as ‘Project Fear’. All over the country, British businesses basked in their new-found freedom to trade with any part of the world without impediment. Worries that Brexit would damage trade with EU countries were quickly dispelled, as all the painstaking work Johnson and his ministers had put into their negotiations with the EU resulted in the seamless continuation of cross-channel trade.
Fishermen from Scotland to Cornwall had special reason to celebrate as their industry enjoyed its long-promised renaissance, free at last from quotas and stifling EU regulations.
In Northern Ireland, nationalist and loyalist communities found common cause to rejoice in Johnson’s ingenious solution to the border problem, showing their enthusiasm with lively street parties and intercommunal barbecues.
Meanwhile, the people of Britain enjoyed what can only be described as a new dawn of democratic renewal, now that Johnson had extricated their country from the corrupt machinations of unelected EU bureaucrats.
Johnson and his ministers lost little time in using their new ability to make laws that matched the wishes of the British people rather than imposing cumbersome foreign ideas of justice and human rights. Priti Patel’s Police Powers Bill proved wildly popular and was greeted with spontaneous demonstrations of support by large crowds in towns around the country.
Of course, this period was anything but plain sailing. In faraway China, an adversary had emerged that was to put Johnson’s mettle as a leader to the severest of tests. Fortunately, Johnson was – like his wartime hero – ahead of the game in spotting the emerging threat of Covid-19 and preparing to deal with it.
Also like Churchill, Johnson was blessed with a team of trusted close advisers who could be relied upon to serve their country calmly and selflessly in its hour of need.
As the people of Britain rallied against their twin enemies – the virus and the EU – their morale was boosted by Johnson’s regular public broadcasts, in which he modelled the courage and good sense needed to overcome these foes.
One serendipitous result of Britain’s exit from the EU was that it freed the government’s hand to deal far more effectively with the pandemic than any of its erstwhile fellow EU member states.
Not only did Johnson’s government make good on its promise to spend an extra £350 million a week on the National Health Service; it also found highly creative ways to deploy this bounty – nearly £40 billion of it – thanks to its close and long-standing connections to public-spirited companies such as Serco, Deloitte and Pestfix Ltd.
These were to prove so much more effective than the outmoded NHS in delivering a world-beating test and trace system and supplying desperately needed PPE, blazing a trail towards the full privatisation of health services that so many ordinary people had long wished for.
Johnson’s grit in the face of adversity was shown with the announcement that the government would be putting a “protective ring of steel” around the care homes that housed many thousands of vulnerable elderly citizens. It is not known whether this phrase was a deliberate echo of Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain”, but there is no doubt that many families would have reason to be grateful for Johnson’s unstinting efforts to protect their loved ones.
Even more crucial to Johnson’s heroic success in safeguarding the nation’s health was the fact that now, at last, the government could act firmly to control the UK’s borders and so prevent the spread of dangerous new virus variants into the country.
As the scale of Johnson’s achievements became apparent and life started to return to normal, excitement began to mount over the Festival of Brexit planned for 2022. There was simply so much to celebrate.
Once again, Britain stood alone against the world, a proud island nation where freedom and prosperity reigned, and steadfast ethical values had triumphed against the worst the world could throw at it
And in a country that had renewed its love of monuments to towering national heroes, it was little wonder that, by popular demand, an effigy of Johnson was soon erected to join his illustrious forebears in the shadow of the Mother of Parliaments.