Ever since the election was called at the beginning of my trip to India, I’ve been torn. We’re talking Natalie Imbruglia torn here. It’s been a long time, if ever, that I’ve been so conflicted over what political choice to make. My friend, Richard, and I even sat two or three nights in the Era bar on Delhi’s Connaught Place talking this issue over and over and over again.
Not for his benefit, you understand (Richard is very clear he’ll be voting Conservative on December 12th to reinstate Jason McCartney in Colne Valley), but for mine. I continued to think about what to do for most of the holiday; I did so again right up until yesterday morning. Now I’ve made my decision: I’m backing Boris!
It hasn’t been easy making this choice. However, once the PM came back with a deal with enough significant differences from the mess of pottage cooked up by May, there were only really two choices:
1). Do I vote for Boris?
2). Do I spoil my voting paper?
I wasn’t going to waste my vote on the Brexit Party. Voting BP during the European elections was the means to an end. The end being getting rid of a Prime Minister who had become an enormous electoral liability to the Conservatives. It worked. May departed and Boris was ennobled. Were the Brexit Party really convinced Boris’s deal was the same as May’s, they would not have taken the bold step to stand aside in 317 Tory-held seats.
My binary choice came about because I was, and remain, deeply concerned about the effects of the PM’s deal on Northern Ireland. Had the package applied equally to all four parts of the Kingdom, I would have made my decision in an instant. But it doesn’t. Whatever spin is put on this deal from its most enthusiastic proponents, the fact remains Northern Ireland will have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK will. Did Boris choose to make his move because of time constraints? Or because he was forced to make moves he would otherwise have refused because of the antics of a venal parliament? Or even because the DUP made the strategic mistake (and it WAS a mistake) of wanting only a confidence and supply arrangement instead of actual seats in a post-2017 Cabinet. As an integrationist Unionist, I wanted a Northern Ireland party to play an integral role in the governance of the UK for the first time since 1922. They chose not to make that move, and it is something they may never have the chance to do again.
On the other hand, I remain as determined as I ever was to keep Magic Grandpa and his assorted entourage made up of naive Millennials, pseudo-Marxist fruitcakes, economic illiterates, and street-ready thugs as far away from the levers of power as possible. No constitutional damage potentially brought about by Boris Johnson could be anywhere near as bad as an Opposition ready to grant the Scottish Nasties a second throw of the dice on secession, and led by a man whose hatred of Northern Ireland Unionism is well tested.
So here we are.