Sunday Column: Boris Johnson has more in common with Joe Biden than he did with Trump.

Boris Johnson came to power on a wave of populism but he is no populist.

Boris Johnson calls Joe Biden (Reuters)

By Derek W Gardiner

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden had their first phone call since Biden came to office where they discussed trains, green new deals and a "climate-focused" effort to rebuild the economy from the pandemic. Recently, Johnson announced plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, a policy which is highly unpopular with his own voter base. Mr Biden also signed executive orders to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which President Trump withdrew from and cancelled the Keystone oil pipeline which may cost around 11,000 jobs. Earlier this week Boris was asked whether he thought Biden was "woke" (which he is) and gave an incoherent answer. Despite all the media hype about a bad relationship between Johnson's Britain and Biden's America, they will get on much better than Johnson ever got on with Trump and that is not necessarily a good thing.


In 2019, it was political wisdom that populism on the right was the way to go, during the 2019 leadership election Boris Johnson promised a rethink of nanny state laws such as the sugar tax, to look at decriminalising non-payment of the BBC license fee and a no-deal Brexit if negotiations didn't go well. In 2020 some positive steps were made such as efforts to prevent statues of national heroes being torn down by angry mobs, stopping critical race theory from being taught in schools and getting a better deal with the EU. However, the removal of Dominic Cummings and Trump leaving office may have changed his tack to becoming more a Cameron-style centrist Conservative rather than a populist.


Boris Johnson has always been a political shapeshifter, he was Mayor of London on a green environmentalist platform such as vowing to lie down in front of the bulldozers coming to build a third runway at Heathrow. It seems Boris is more comfortable as a liberal greenie than a Trumpian populist conservative. Furthermore, the people around him have much more influence than the people around President Trump did. Trump often went against his advisors (that's why he had so many) and tried to keep the promises he made to his supporters such as withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a renegotiation of NAFTA and bringing jobs back to the rust belt. The Frank Sinatra classic "My Way", which he played as he flew away on Air Force One for the last time, really did sum up how he conducted himself in office. Boris Johnson, on the other hand, was incapable of making decisions for himself relying first on Dominic Cummings and then on the SAGE committee and most recently on his fiancee to make decisions for him and this has resulted in incompetence and mixed messaging on a scale I've never seen before. Biden also seems to be under the influence of a radical green and woke section within the Democratic party. A man who started his career as a moderate Democrat and conservative catholic socially has now signed an executive order to abolish women-only spaces and has said people in prisons should be able to choose whether they go to men or women only prisons based on how they identify.


If people are looking for a "Britain Trump" in Boris Johnson they are looking in the wrong place and unfortunately it looks like we're in for a few years of wokism until a populist alternative arises.


Steve Baker is right, it's time to review the public health regulations


Recently on Twitter Steve Baker MP for Wycombe and chairman of the COVID Recovery Group shared a thread in which he argued that there should be amendments to the Public Health Act (the legislation on which the current Coronavirus regulations are based) to allow for more parliamentary oversight. In particular, he argued that authorities should only have the power to enact measures if they conduct an impact assessment on the economic, social and health costs, the measures are necessary and proportionate having regard to the impact on these factors and on personal liberty and the regulations would only have provisional effect until Parliament has approved them.


While not perfect in my view this would make matter far better when it comes to protecting personal freedom which both Westminster government and devolved governments have been able to run roughshod over the last 10 months. Oddly enough, however, its the people on the left who want a Conservative government to have unlimited powers over our lives and liberties such as radio presenter James O Brien who laughed at these suggestions saying that Steve Baker never asked for a cost-benefit analysis for Brexit.


As usual, the only opposition to the government is coming from the Conservative backbenchers and not HM official opposition who have spent most of this time calling for even harder measures to be applied.