At least, that’s what the French government would like us to believe.
To be fair, the diplomatic briefing of French officials doesn’t say that much in so many words. But what it does say makes this inference inescapable. At least I couldn’t escape it.
The briefing note says: “There is unease regarding Cummings’s Maoism and what economic transformation in the UK could mean for long-term geopolitical relations.”
See what I mean? If Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s closest adviser, is a Maoist, then Boris himself is like Mao, at least typologically.
Now, though Mr Johnson does boast a rather eclectic ethnic mix, I’m unaware of any Chinese inputs. Hence, the French government must feel he’s like Mao not in what he is, but in what he does.
During his time at the helm, the Great Helmsman murdered over 60 million people and enslaved the rest. Of course, much as he’d want to, Britain’s comparatively puny population would make it hard for Mr Johnson to match those numbers, not without expanding his murderous instincts internationally.
But, as I never tire to point out, numbers shouldn’t affect the principle. Perhaps Mr Johnson is planning to match Mao’s scoresheet in proportionate rather than absolute numbers.
One way or the other, the French government seems to be convinced he’s out to go on a murderous rampage, execute or imprison most university graduates, invade an equivalent of Tibet and call for an all-out nuclear war.
No? Then what makes Johnson Mao, or Cummings Maoist? The same note explains it perfectly, if in slightly cryptic language. They aren’t like Mao in those insignificant details. It’s just that they, like the Chinese butcher, pursue an evil end, in this case Brexit.
One can understand their concern: anything less than a disaster for a post-Brexit Britain spells a disaster for a post-Brexit EU. Just imagine what will happen if, after a few months of transitional hiccups, Britain starts outperforming the eurozone economically.
What message will that send to other members, especially those called neither Germany nor France? Right. A couple of years of Britain’s post-exit prosperity, and the EU will almost certainly be reduced just to those two nations.
Both Messrs Johnson and Cummings are trying to comply with the will of the British people, which is why they are accused of raping democracy and acting in the style of Hitler, Mao and presumably Genghis Khan.
Moreover, the Johnson cabinet is actively preparing for Brexit by seeking beneficial trade treaties with non-EU countries, especially the United States. According to the French government, this is “humiliating” for Britain. As opposed, one assumes, to being governed by Germany in all but name. Now, that’s what the French call dignified.
The French must realise that, unlike their country, Britain has no recent experience of being run by Germany, and nor does one detect any urgent desire at the grassroots to acquire such experience. Neither does Britain, unlike France, have much experience of Maoist parties influencing government – a situation that made that Maoist analogy roll so easily off those French bureaucrats’ tongues.
What I find particularly endearing is that the French and the Germans have the gall to accuse Mr Johnson’s government of being insufficiently democratic and constitutional. That’s like an arsonist complaining about a shortage of fire extinguishers.
They’ve created a portmanteau superstate accountable to itself only and run by unelected officials, with a rubberstamping parliament in tow. In view of that, their touching display of affection for democracy doesn’t even make it to hypocritical. Schizophrenic, is more like it.
Ignorance also comes into it, on a rather embarrassing scale.
Thus Christoph Gusy, German authority of constitutional history, has evidently set out to prove that he really ought to look for a different line of work. Speaking of Johnson’s prorogation of parliament, Prof. Gusy proudly declared that such a thing would be “unthinkable” in Germany.
“Apparently in the UK the constitution is still in a monarchical tradition,” Gusy said, thereby proving his impressive academic credentials. It must have escaped his attention that the UK is indeed a monarchy, which goes some way towards explaining its monarchical traditions.
However, Johnson’s move has nothing to do with that aspect of our constitution and everything to do with other aspects, those that have made it possible for several of our prime ministers to seek royal assent to prorogue parliament for a short time.
“What Johnson is doing now is exactly what was abolished in Germany a hundred years ago,” continued Gusy. In other words, he’s holding the Weimar Republic up as a shining political star for Britain to follow.
He’s right about his facts though. This sort of thing was indeed impossible in Germany 100 years ago. What, however, was possible, was the sort of thing that happened in Germany 86 years ago, when the unmatched Weimar constitution delivered power to Hitler – legally, constitutionally and democratically.
Then, 80 years ago, another thing became possible: Germany’s previous attempt to unite Europe under its own aegis. Really, the French and German eurocrats deserve one another. Neither seem to realise that, in their panic over Brexit, they sound like blithering idiots.