Monday 6 February 2023

Looking for the simplest explanation


For some strange reason, people have been mocking Boris Johnson after he called for Ukraine to join the EU. This could be based on a wholly irrational expectation that he would be consistent in what he says, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s not as if it is particularly difficult to identify the inconsistencies, such as claiming that it was the EU that was provoking war in Ukraine (because we all know from so many of his utterances that the EU is the root of all evil), or that membership of the EU would have somehow prevented the UK from aiding Ukraine.

In fairness, there are a number of possible reasons why Johnson might think that Ukrainian membership of the EU makes sense.

The first is that he might actually see it as a way of undermining the EU. The size and relative poverty of Ukraine – to say nothing of what seems to be endemic corruption – would be a major challenge for the EU to absorb quickly. The logic of Brexit (although rarely expressed openly by Brexiteers) was that it was supposed to be just the start of a stampede for the door, leading to the utter collapse of the whole edifice. There are other ways of achieving the same thing – perhaps he’s being really cunning.

The second is that, as a poorer country, Ukraine would be entitled under EU policies to receive massive amounts from ‘Brussels’, although that policy depends, of course, on the richer countries being willing to pay in in the first place. It’s a bit of a cheek from a man who argued that Brexit was a means of avoiding paying into such solidarity funds, but with fewer rich countries left to pick up the tab, maybe he sees it as a way of damaging the UK’s competitors, such as Germany and France. Although it’s more likely that he simply hasn’t understood the dependency between making payments to the poorer and receiving them from the richer. Financial arithmetic was never his strong point, whether in affairs of state or in managing his own finances.

The third is that, driven as he is by an inflated sense of English exceptionalism, he genuinely believes that the EU is fine for lesser peoples and nations, but not for the great power which his fevered imagination tells him that the UK is.

On the whole, however, and following the dictates of Occam’s razor, I favour a very much simpler explanation – he was just doing what he has always done, and saying what a particular audience wanted to hear. Zelensky wants to join the EU, so Johnson supports him. He doesn’t really mean it, any more than he has ever meant most of the things he’s said. He assumed that, if he’s ever in a position of influence again (and I struggle to see how even the Tories could be that stupid), he will simply deny ever having said any such thing. It's not as if he has never done that before.


dafis said...

I think you have just stated the best reason for including Ukraine in the EU - "The size and relative poverty of Ukraine – to say nothing of what seems to be endemic corruption". Corruption! It is obvious that the government of Ukraine has a high proportion of dodgy and downright corrupt bastards making it well suited to the prevailing culture at the top of the EU. But don't despair, it also fits neatly with the Boris Johnson mindset and that of the current successor regime in London. Putin has nothing like a monopoly on bad behaviours just more of a will to smack his neighbours around the head without any regard for consequences. All bastards as far as I can see.

Spirit of BME said...

One should stay away from trying to see a pattern in The Boy Johnson`s utterings , he is a ‘gun t for hire’ and as such will say what will be to his benefit.
The EU is not ‘the root of all evil’, but being a large, centralised Empire it is a root of some/much evil and their DNA is all over this conflict, with the funds it has pumped in on the pretence of preparing the country for membership application.
The controlled narrative we are getting does exclude Russia concerns/fears, that triggered their military adventure, but NATO broke their pledge not to move east and the EU see the Ukraine as a valuable and productive asset for secure food supply and natural commodities.