When Omar Salem, a British father of a sick child, confronted Boris Johnson at Whipps Cross hospital in Leytonstone, east London, about the state of the British National Health Service, by observing that, “[The NHS has] been destroyed, and now you come here for a press opportunity,” the Prime Minister responded by saying, “Well, actually there’s no press here.” Mr. Salem gestured to his right and said, “What do you mean there’s no press here? Who are these people?” Those people were, of course, a gaggle of reporters and news photographers furiously clicking their cameras and recording on video the confrontation between the Prime Minister and Mr. Salem. Their presence at the hospital at that particular moment is why we can watch the entire encounter on YouTube.
This is the new political world of Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Lying Eyes? Boris Johnson told Omar Salem an instantaneously provable lie of the sort one encounters when being told the sky is a perfect cerulean blue on an overcast, rainy day. Johnson told the lie with the shamelessness of a sociopath, with the same easy absence of conscience he told the Queen at the end of August that he needed to suspend Parliament in order to prepare for the next Parliamentary session, and that it had nothing to do with Brexit, when it had nothing to do with the next Parliamentary session and everything to do with Brexit.
This Parliamentary suspension or “prorogation,” is to be, at five weeks, the longest prorogation of Parliament in history. Johnson’s goal is to confound its members from debating Brexit so a no-deal Brexit cannot be stopped before the 31 October deadline of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Johnson is currently fighting in the Supreme Court to keep Parliament from convening, a thing he wouldn’t bother doing if his goal was merely to give everyone time to prepare for the next session.
If this sounds familiar it should. One of the many campaign promises Donald Trump told, a promise that he had absolutely no intention of keeping by the way, was to release his tax returns if elected president. When asked, upon duly being elected president, why Trump hadn’t released his taxes, he claimed it was because he was still under audit and the IRS wouldn’t let him. In contradiction to that claim he is now engaged in a legal battle to keep Congress (and anyone else) from getting their hands on those returns. You would think Trump would just let the IRS do its job and keep the tax returns hidden because Trump is “under audit.” Like Boris Johnson, Trump’s lie is exposed by the legal lengths he’s willing to go to in order to enforce what he actually wants.
Like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson is a pathological liar. Also like Trump, Johnson is far more interested in what is best for himself than in what’s best for the United Kingdom. Johnson knows perfectly well that Brexit, if it happens, is going to be a nightmare calamity for his country, but that it will also be very good for Boris Johnson, and when confronted with a choice between which of the two is best, Johnson will always pick Johnson.
Boris believes that, thanks in part to Donald Trump, fascistic conservatism is on the rise, and he’s ready to take advantage of that fact and enter into a rogue’s alliance with Trump to make himself and his friends super rich, and to hell with anyone else. Mr. Salem probably already knows this. Despite what he says as a worried parent, speaking in understandable hyperbole, the NHS is far from destroyed. But if Boris Johnson has things his way, it will be. With the disaster of a no-deal Brexit, Britain will have no choice but to turn to the United States as a trading partner. Boris knows there are billions, possibly trillions, to be made in the healthcare-for-profit industry, and he wants a piece of that pie for his very own. And you can bet that will also be the price of entry into the world of Trump, nothing short of our immortal souls.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.