(Nantucket) The government ban on culling seal herds dwelling along the New England coast has devastated the health, food supply, and very lives of the whiskery little mammals since that EPA regulation was a clear message to every shark in the North Atlantic- notably the fearsome Great Whites- that there really is a federally sponsored "Free Lunch". Happily my long standing delight in a bracing 6 am plunge in the surf endures-- thanks to assurance from the local Coast Guard that sharks do not fancy choppy waters close to shore.
Any rumination on "shark infested waters" leads naturally to a contemplation of the daunting challenges facing Great Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he seeks to deliver on his bold pledge to exit the European Union (E.U.) by October 31st. Bizarrely the most dangerous predators circling Boris are not Brussels bureaucrats but rather members of his own parliamentary Conservative Party.
So if most Conservative Members of Parliament regard Johnson as a deceitful, unreliable, publicity- seeking buffoon why did they vote to make him the number one candidate to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister?
The answer is simple: Boris is wildly popular with the rank and file of the Conservative Party and is universally viewed as the only person who can save the world's oldest political party from utter oblivion in the next election, whenever it occurs.
Since the Brexit Vote three years ago Britain has undergone a political upheaval that has dramatically altered the political structure of what had heretofore been the most stable democracy in the Western World. The disastrous premiership of Theresa May led Britain to humiliation abroad at the hands of the E.U. and political polarization at home owing to her utter failure to deliver on her election pledge that "Brexit means Brexit".
The polarization over Brexit, which has become the defining issue in British politics, derives from the fact that fully a third of Conservative voters absolutely hate Brexit while a third of the Labour voters love it. This led to world class "straddling" on the part of May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Resultantly the angry dissidents in both parties came to view their leaders as contemptible weaklings and they began to seek "other options" among "people of principle" that shared their particular political passion.
The "other options" had spectacular impact on Britain's recent EU elections as the long moribund Liberal Party found new life as a staunchly anti-Brexit party --while the "Brexit Party" newly invented by long time gadfly Nigel Fararge found stunning success as a magnet for Conservatives who wanted "Brexit Right Now".
So who is Boris Johnson and what are his chances to "square the Brexit circle" thus saving his party and country from looming disaster?
Boris Johnson is a classic British elitist--all the right schools (Eton, Oxford) and family connections-- who possesses the "common touch" to a remarkable degree as evidenced by his improbable feat of being a Conservative twice elected Mayor of London.
Like his idol Winston Churchill, who pre-1940 was distrusted by Conservatives and widely viewed as "erratic and unreliable," Johnson is Prime Minister only because of a dire national emergency. As all know, Churchill confounded his detractors and magnificently rose to the occasion. As for Boris, only time will tell--and he has precious little time between now and October 31st, the EU imposed deadline for Britain either to accept the "deal" offered to Theresa May or cease to be a member of the EU.
Commanding only a razor thin majority in the House of Commons Johnson adroitly promised the anti-Brexit element in his party that he will seek a "better deal" from the EU while reassuring the pro-Brexit element that he will leave the EU on 10/31 if he doesn't get one.
Now the EU is on the horns of a dilemma of their own making. Repeatedly they have told Britain that there will be no renegotiation of the "deal" offered to May. However they know that deal was thrice resoundingly rejected by Parliament, and now they face a Prime Minister who is an enthusiastic "Brexiteer" who saw that the Sky Didn't Fall after the initial referendum and doesn't believe it will fall now.
Slowly it is dawning on the fractious EU that they have badly misplayed their hand and that in this modern "Battle of Britain" it is they and not the United Kingdom that will ultimately be the Biggest Loser.
Bill Moloney covers national and international politics for the America Blog. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post and Human Events.