Boris, it’s your moral responsibility to pick up the pieces

Why the former Mayor of London has no other choice but leading the post-Brexit vote process.

by Salvatore Murtas

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Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson faces the moral obligation to lead the country in the negotiation phase with the EU (©Getty)

For those who have been on Mars the past few days, it’s happened: the UK has voted to leave the European Union!

I still can’t believe it, despite watching the results unravel live on the BBC referendum marathon, reading hundreds of articles, flicking through thousands of posts on social media. Only now I bring myself to put down a few thoughts, as the disbelief mixed with anxiety has left room to a clearer sense of perspective.

Let’s be clear, the people of Britain have spoken: the will of the majority is sovereign, and the indication of the new course clearly traced. Over 17 million UK citizens, with an uncompromising margin of 1.2 million preferences, have made their intention clear, and we all have to roll up our sleeves and make sure the result of the referendum becomes a success.

Calls for a second referendum, as circulated on social media through petitions allegedly signed by 3 million people, are simply wrong. And this is for a couple of reasons.

Undermining the result of June 23 by calling for a second vote would: 1) further alienate voters – as it happened the majority that already feel somewhat disenfranchised or angry at the establishment; 2) be unfair on those who voted to leave; 3) be contrary to the principles and workings of democracy.

And as a Remainer, I say this: grow up!

Everyone should accept the result, stop questioning the fundamental principle and value of direct democracy, and put an end to the revolting blame-game on those who voted in a different way.

Grow up, because everyone’s vote is sacrosanct, and no one’s vote is more important than another.

Grow up, because the claim made by the ‘young generation’ according to which the grandpas and grandmas of little England stole the vote, is simply unfounded. If youngsters cared so much about their future, how come only 32% turned out to vote? They should have probably informed the 68% that did not bother to make it to the polling station that each vote counts. If you didn’t know this before June 23, then let’s just add this lesson to the result of the referendum. Next time you’ll know better. Bottom line, we all have to accept and deal with the consequences, for better or worse.

But enough of the lecturing. Looking ahead, here’s the real deal for me: one person, and one person only, should stand for the leadership of the party, and consequently for the position of Prime Minister, and that person is Boris Johnson.

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No hesitation – BoJo must take ownership of the referendum result at once, translating his vision into a credible plan for the future of the UK outside of the EU (©North News & Pictures Ltd)

Why BoJo? As the main advocate of the Vote Leave position, and one who possibly swayed as many as 2% of the votes, bringing more resonance to the cause, andplaying a major role in convincing the moderate part of the electorate, I believe he should take the responsibility of leading the country out of the puddle upon himself without hesitation.

It’s a moral responsibility!

Make no mistake, Boris can boast the skills, wit, energy, resilience, clout, charisma and leadership for the job as no one else in the Conservative Party, or in the entire political arena. But more importantly, he is the main protagonist of this whole melee, hence the moral obligation.

Before he joined the Leave camp, not much credit or credibility was given to what was essentially Nigel Farage’s creation. In everyone’s opinion, Cameron’s IN campaign was plain sailing, and the EU referendum a mere formality.

Without Johnson, the Leave campaign would have hardly hit the headlines, but once he announced his support, papers and TV programmes talked about it for days.

With his endorsement, he’s given legitimacy to the Out camp, making its position acceptable to the moderate section of the electorate, particularly those who refuse to have anything to do with UKip xenophobic and racial stance. Boris provided a vision, a credible alternative for UK’s future outside of the EU, and a series of extremely appealing slogans. Take Back Control and Our Country’s Independence Day certainly helped doing the trick.

No question that the Vote Leave win is Johnson’s own achievement, and though it’s fair to maintain that he has been as surprised as everyone else, he has proved a clever interpreter of the raging dissent and anti-establishment sentiments. So the Brexit leader must take ownership of his campaign result without further a due, clearly stating his leadership intentions at once, and proceeding to translate his vision into a credible plan to lead Britain out of the puddle.

A few days ago, a very interesting comment on the Guardian online caught a lot of attention. In his analysis, the commenter stated that whatever BoJo does or does not do, his career is finished. Well, as much as I enjoyed the analysis, and support parts of it. In politics, as in life, a single event can change the course of history, as we are constantly reminded, also in the case of the referendum.

This why I maintain that as a matter of principle, and morality, BoJo cannot call himself out in this crucial phase of the nation’s history. His career would be irreparably tainted, he would fail to live up to his potential, and ultimately he would be dwarfed by the noble gesture, and stoic fighting spirit, of the Conservative leader that took the country out of the 2008 economic crisis.

Yes, David Cameron. As a member of the Conservative Party, and a true admirer of the PM, it pained me to see him resign on Friday. But for this, I admire him even more, as his resignations stand as evidence of real statesmanship, dignity, responsibility and sense of state.

David Cameron fought wholeheartedly a brave fight, and with his honourable gesture underlined yet again that the country’s will and future interest to be more important than his political career.

Those who question his decision to keep his manifesto pledge and hold a referendum simply do not understand the real value of the British parliamentary democracy.

 

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