It is no wonder former London mayor and gadfly Boris Johnson begged out of the contest for prime minister. The Brexit leader has kept out of sight since the “Leave” campaign won. His latest move is evidence he never expected to win and has no clue what to do now.
The New York Times reports:
[O]ne thing has become especially clear about the former London mayor Boris Johnson and other leaders of the successful campaign to vote Britain out of the European Union: They had no plan for what comes next.
In the days since Britain voted to leave the bloc, the movement’s leaders have often appeared as if they had not expected to win and were not prepared to cope with the consequences. Faced with the scope of the decision, they have been busy walking back promises they made during the campaign and scaling back expectations. They have failed to show a united front or to answer basic questions.
This is the problem with emotion-laden populist movements based on fear and distortion. If they ever “succeed,” the scam is over. (“On issues from immigration to spending on the National Health Service, the ‘Leave’ coalition has retreated from its more populist and apparently exaggerated claims. Many of those assertions had been promoted by the right-wing U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, led by Nigel Farage, and benefited the broader Leave campaign, whose most prominent figures included two senior Conservatives, Mr. Johnson and Michael Gove, the justice minister.”) It is ironic — and sad — that the “solution” to economic anxiety dislocation will entail more anxiety and dislocation. (Outgoing prime minister David Cameron broke the news to his fellow citizens that “it is impossible to have all the advantages of membership without some of the costs of membership.” Oops.)
The analogy to Trumpism is this: The recognition and magnification of anger among the citizenry which posits a retreat from globalism is doomed to fail and disappoint. We could of course through misguided policy constrict the flow of goods and services, raising costs for consumers, limiting markets for our businesses and harming our own competitive advantage. But there is the rub.
When it comes to exiting the E.U., does Britain really want to cut off its citizens from affordable French goods, limit British companies’ customers on the continent, impede its financial sector’s ability to do international business and choke off the flow of workers it needs to make its industries efficient and profitable? I guess they’ll find out what that is like.
Are U.S. policymakers ready to hike the cost of food and clothing for already strapped working-class families, deny U.S. manufacturers the cheapest materials needed to make their products, and limit our access to foreign music, films and other entertainment?
Trump’s vision is a pipe dream, and one with serious economic risks. For the poorest of the world’s poor, the stakes are the highest:
The moral case for globalization rests on the proposition that the system has raised the living standards of billions of people, including some of the world’s poorest citizens. . . . Those in the bottom third of the world’s population except for the very poor, who earn as little as $1.25 a day, have become significantly better off, as demonstrated by Branko Milanovic, the former lead economist at the World Bank’s Development Group.
This is more than altruism, to be sure. We know that previously impoverished nations are now consumers of our goods, international donors and reliable allies.
But the stakes for all Americans are high as well. We have never benefited by making our markets smaller and prices higher. We have been down this road before with disastrous results.
Just like Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Johnson, Trump would be at a loss to implement his “plan” if he ever won. In reality he has no plan, at least not one remotely acceptable to Americans. His promises are as empty as theirs and the sense of betrayal his voters would feel would make today’s populist anger seem mild. The good news for the United States is this: “Thanks to Brexit, U.S. voters will be able to see firsthand what happens when a country ducks out of a major trade agreement and tries to renegotiate a new one under false pretenses with no plan for implementation—uncertainty, market turmoil, and economic degradation.” In other words, there is time to pull back from the brink.
The big lie Trump is telling is that Americans cannot succeed on their merits, cannot compete on the world stage and cannot adapt to the needs of a 21st century. Only he can do that for us, you see, by making “deals.” Well, that is just nonsense, especially coming from a man who is not competent enough to make a casino profitable or his campaign competitive.