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Boris Johnson’s Big Lie

While Boris Johnson, the likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, takes his country down a path of diminished trade, the European Union is negotiating one of the largest free-trade agreements in the world. One really has to wonder what the "buccaneering" Brexiteers have to complain about.

BRUSSELS – Three years after the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, the UK is no closer to figuring out how to leave the European Union, and what comes next, than it was when the result was announced. And now a Conservative Party leadership election to replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May is in full swing. To those of us watching from the outside, the debate between the candidates confirms that they have learned nothing whatsoever from the past two years of negotiations with the EU.

Sadly, this comes as no surprise, given that the lead candidate is Boris Johnson, the Leave campaign’s most prominent architect and a man who continues to dissemble, exaggerate, and disinform the public about Brexit. In 2016, Johnson and his fellow Brexiteers duped a narrow majority of UK voters into thinking that leaving the EU would somehow furnish the British National Health Service with an additional £350 million ($445 million) per week. He also drummed up fears that Britain’s EU membership would somehow lead to mass immigration from Turkey (which happens to be the homeland of his paternal grandfather, Ali Kemal).

Though Johnson will most likely soon find himself in a position where he must make good on his promises, he continues to spread untruths. Chief among them is the myth that Britain can tear up the withdrawal agreement that May negotiated with the EU, withhold its financial commitments to the bloc, and simultaneously start negotiating free-trade deals. To Johnson’s followers, however, he is more prophet than politician: only he can deliver a mythical “true Brexit” that will deliver the prosperity promised during the referendum campaign.

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