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Boris Johnson told to ‘avoid stupidity’ and ‘shut up’ to save the union

02 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Boris Johnson. Picture by Kuhlmann /MSC (CC BY 3.0 DE).

Boris Johnson has been told to “avoid stupidity” and “shut up” to save the union.

Times columnist Alex Massie advised the UK Prime Minister should stick to Barak Obama’s first law of politics, which is “don’t do stupid s***” if he wants to prevent the union from breaking up

The commentator gave Johnson describing devolution as a “disaster” in a meeting with MPs from the north of England as an example of him doing “stupid s***”.

He suggested that making it clear that independence is “unnecessary” as “challenging” and a said that “plastering the country” with the union flag was “no kind of answer”.

Massie said: “For unionism has in recent years demonstrated an inglorious aptitude for talking itself into problems. The more there is talk of a crisis, the more a sense of crisis builds.

“Which is another way of making the point that just as far too many people in London have under-estimated the appeal of independence for far too long, so there is now a danger of complacency being replaced by panic.

“Unionism can always argue that independence is a bad idea. The economic numbers remain what they are and if Brexit is a terrible blunder in terms of making trade more expensive so is independence. But these arguments and numbers are not enough.

“The bigger challenge lies in making it clear independence is not just a bad idea but, more importantly, an unnecessary one. That means Barack Obama’s first law of politics should be unionism’s first command too: “Don’t do stupid s***”.”


He added:  “This is less easily adhered to than you might think. For instance, a prime minister who also poses as ‘Minister for the Union’ would not cheerfully tell a meeting of MPs from northern English constituencies that, in his carefully considered and expert view, ‘devolution is a disaster’.

“Plastering the country with the Union flag is no kind of answer either.

“In one sense, then, the recipe for a revived unionism is straightforward: a likeable and respectable prime minister leading a government that is popular and competent and, more than that, seen to be leading the UK in the right direction.

“If this were accompanied by quiet years of economic growth as 3 per cent a year then so much the better.

“As I say, simple. The argument for independence is reactive much more than it is positive.

“Any Union unit should focus less on swatting Nats and more on making Britain work better. That is the real challenge.

“Unionism is not supposed to be exciting and nor is it required to be muscular either. There is a virtue in being boring just as the tortoise enjoys certain advantages denied the hare.

“So here it is, Boris: avoid stupidity and, wherever possible, shut up. Then, and only then, we may begin to talk of what is to be done next.”

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