We need a patriotic Prime Minister – that means Boris, not Corbyn
BY SUSAN HALL
What is the bare minimum we might expect from a potential Prime Minister?
A fairly low bar is that any potential Prime Minister should love the country that they aspire to lead. Every single leader of a major UK political Party has, to the best of my knowledge, easily cleared this hurdle. All except one. I’m not suggesting that gung ho nationalism is required or even desirable, but a fundamental belief that Britain is a great country would be a bar that Boris Johnson, Jo Swinson, Theresa May, Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and Tony Blair would have hurdled over with ease. In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn would limbo under it. A man whose opinions have famously remained unchanged over the course of his whole political career, has always carried with him a deep disdain for the nation that he ostensibly wishes to lead.
Back in August, on the eve of his first G7 summit as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson described the United Kingdom as an “outward-looking, self-confident nation” that will “never flinch from the special responsibilities that go with being a pillar and an architect of the international system”.
He continued: “Some people question the democratic decision this country has made, fearing that we will retreat from the world. Some think Britain’s best days are behind us but to those people I say: you are gravely mistaken.”
It is impossible to imagine Jeremy Corbyn making that speech. He would not consider the UK to be “outward-looking”. To him it’s a miserable, backwards country. He might accept that we are a “self-confident nation” but only to the extent that that self-confidence is misplaced. Jeremy Corbyn would actively hope that “we will retreat from the world” – indeed retreating from the world would be a cornerstone of his foreign policy if he were ever to become Prime Minister. It’s possible that he would agree with Boris that “Britain’s best days are [not] behind us” but, if so, that would only be because the Leader of the Opposition believes that our past was a truly terrible place.
It is a genuinely odd experience to watch Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition. There have been plenty of Labour leaders who were – or would have been – terrible Prime Ministers. Michael Foot, for example, would have been an utter disaster had he won the 1983 General Election. However for all of Michael Foot’s many faults, he was a patriot who loved his country and backed it at times of crisis. Famously he supported the Conservative Government over the Falklands War.
In contrast, who could genuinely believe that Jeremy Corbyn loves his country? This is a man who has spent his whole political career arguing vehemently that Britain was in the wrong on every single foreign policy decision we have taken. This is a man so dedicated to the view that Britain, the United States and the Western World are always wrong that he denounced NATO as a “danger to the world” in 2011. He then chaired the Stop the War Coalition (more accurately known as ‘Stop the West’ for entirely predictable reasons) from 2011 to 2015.
When the England football team played Kosovo in last month’s World Cup Qualifier, the players and fans were greeted warmly. The Kosovans took countless opportunities to display their gratitude for the UK’s key role in the humanitarian intervention and liberation of Kosovo in order to stop genocide being committed by the forces of the Slobodan Milošević. This is seen as a textbook example of a legitimate intervention and saved countless lives. If it had been up to Jeremy Corbyn, who opposed it and continued to argue against its legitimacy for years afterwards, it would not have happened.
The contrast between Corbyn and Boris Johnson is clear and immediate. Boris is a patriot who exudes a love of his country. Anyone who has watched him over the last twenty-five years would struggle to deny the point. He believes in Britain as a country that has made mistakes, but has made an awful lot of good calls over the centuries. He believes that we have a great past but an even greater future. By itself, patriotism could never be enough to identify a candidate as the best choice for Prime Minister, but it’s impossible that a man who hates his country could ever be a fitting MP, let alone PM. On 12th December, I’m confident that the British people will reject Jeremy Corbyn and elect a Conservative majority Government with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. Then it will be up to the Labour Party to kick out Corbyn and see if it’s still capable of choosing a leader who can pass a very straightforward test.
Susan Hall is a London Assembly Member and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group. Follow her on twitter: @Councillorsuzie