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Between triumph and tragedy

Only Corbyn’s socially just programme can answer the ruthless, racist, elitist Boris Johnson, writes MARK SERWOTKA

BORIS JOHNSON’S shambolic record and divisive rhetoric may have won over the Tory membership, but I’d like to see him go up against Jeremy Corbyn and try that same tactic on the public: we need a general election now.

Johnson has lied and deceived his way to the biggest political job in this country and he’s left in his wake a trail of failure, incompetence and disgustingly offensive remarks.

He is a self-serving racist, Islamophobic, homophobic elitist with a ruthless drive to get to the top. He isn’t fit to lead a parish council, never mind the country.

Just over 90,000 Conservative Party members — making up just 0.25 per cent of the electorate — voted to elect Johnson as the next leader.

A breakdown of the party membership reinforces this absurdity: 71 per cent are male; 86 per cent are in the top social class; 38 per cent are over the age of 65; 97 per cent are white and 60 per cent believe Islam is a threat to Western civilisation.

It’s ludicrous that at a time of great national uncertainty it’s these people, and these people alone, who have been given a say on who becomes the next prime minister.

As the poster boy for the Vote Leave campaign and with the Tory Party pivoting towards a no-deal Brexit, the leadership contest was always going to be nothing more than a coronation for Johnson.

Nevertheless, none of the candidates was able to offer any solutions to the challenges people up and down the country face.

Issues such as the cost of living, rising poverty, precarious employment and climate change were barely been mentioned, if at all.

With Johnson as Prime Minister, I can say with absolute certainty that he will do nothing to alleviate these problems and help the millions of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

He is still wedded to the destructive neoliberal agenda that culminated in the 2008 financial crash — a crash that had a devastating impact on the poorest in society. At a recent hustings, he said: “Can you think of anybody who stuck up for the bankers as much as I did? I can’t think of any other politician, even Conservative politician, who from the crash of 2008 onwards has stuck up for the bankers.”

Apart from himself, the only other interests who his premiership will serve will be his friends from the world of big business.

As a further sign of things to come, Johnson, whose leadership campaign had links to tobacco and food lobbyists, recently announced he will conduct a review into “sin taxes” — those levied on cigarettes and sugary products.

Johnson is more than happy to drag Britain out of the EU without a deal.

This will not only please the rabid Brexiteers in his Cabinet and the wider party membership but it will also be music to the ears of his disaster capitalist cronies who will seek to profit from the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.

More worryingly still, by failing to rule out leaving without a deal, he’s playing fast and loose with the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

A return of a hard border on the island of Ireland will be seen as merely collateral damage and a price worth paying.

With Johnson in No 10 and Trump in the White House, we face the daunting prospect of a modern-day reawakening of the destructive transatlantic partnership of the Thatcher and Reagan era.

They will pursue a supercharged free-market agenda fit for the 21st century and absolutely nothing will be off-limits, not even our NHS. Trade unions have to be prepared to fight this with everything we’ve got, including joint strike action.

I have already expressed concerns about the Conservative Party shifting even further to the right. If reports of Johnson forming an electoral pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party are true then we need to be ready to take on this dangerous and sinister coalition.

We can do this with the transformative policies of a Corbyn-led Labour government that promises to end austerity, radically reform social security and restore the rights of workers and trade unions.

Mark Serwotka is general secretary of the PCS union and president of the Trades Union Congress.

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