Laughter can turn to tears...

Politics has now become a joke - or rather black comedy. On the eve of the French presidential election contest between two candidates, each noted for their French nationalist attitudes, it would appear that Emmanuel Macron will win.

In a televised confrontation he accused Marie Le Pen of being close to Russia by reason of borrowing money from Russian banks. Today the news broke that both France and Germany have armed Russia with military hardware worth £230 million (€275 million.)

Both countries used loopholes to fulfill the contracts. So where does that put Macron who questionably spent many days telephoning Vladimir Putin vainly, as explained, trying to bring about peace in Ukraine?

Germany has been notable for refusing to end its purchases of oil and gas from Russia. This week we learned that the European Commission has given Germany €20 billion to support the country’s companies “affected by the current crisis and the related sanctions”. The payment appears to be in order to encourage the banning of Russian oil and gas in support of Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is another comic in this black comedy show. He has been leading the support for Ukraine and now plans to send British Challenger 2 tanks to Poland so that they can send Soviet-era T-32s to Ukraine.

Unfortunately he is increasingly seen as a comedic figure at Westminster. He was fined for breaking Covid rules of his own making and allegedly may face more penalties leading, ultimately, to his downfall. It appears that he has run out of options and will soon be run out of Downing Street.

Johnson is hoist on his own petard. The legislation his administration introduced was, arguably, unnecessary but, to some, more importantly it gave powers of judgement to the police rather than judges or magistrates. This is, again arguably, a serious breach of British jurisprudence. Simply put police investigate and courts decide - in theory at least.

Boris Johnson gained an enormous majority at the last general election largely because the Westminster parliament had become a laughing stock. It is competing to be that again and according to many members of the public has already outshone the previous one.

Germany has been a leading promoter of the idea that Britain should be the key player in a new Nato security organisation limited to certain countries in order to avoid the problems of disagreements and national obstruction that has marked the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson has changed his assessment and now says Russia could win the war in Ukraine, whilst Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is currently warning that Russia will invade another or other territories.

So what could be the impact of Boris Johnson being forced to leave the comedy show at this stage before the curtain is due to come down? The prospect of a general election looms large in the UK possibly opening the door for a new independence referendum in Scotland and with Northern Ireland already veering towards unity with the Irish Republic.

Johnson may well go down in history as the “buffoon” who caused the break-up of Britain. Where would that leave EU defence? The EU has, since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrated its own lack of unity in many respects, and particularly in defence.

The EU has had to admit that it ignored warnings from eastern member states about Russia for many years for which it has apologised. Boris Johnson has apologised but that will not be likely to save him. What Russia will do next we can only wait and see.

More by Chis White:

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has rightly earned world-wide acclaim for his leadership and political determination notwithstanding that he was previously a professional comedian. I am obliged to add my personal tribute having been chastised for making a ‘light hearted remark’ during a wide ranging discussion on the plight of Ukraine.

In fact it wasn’t a joke but a cynical critique relating to how divisions and diagreements in Europe have, in fact, let down those fighting heroicly for freedom in Ukraine. I was responding to the fact that there were problems with trains from France to England due to the insistence of French border officials that British citizens should have their passports stamped due to Brexit.

There was general agreement that national interests have divided the EU on the issue of sending arms to Ukraine and, more importantly, refusals to stop buying oil and gas from Russia. My comment was that should Putin launch and attack on an EU country and Britain be required to send troops it was to hoped that the French would insist on stamping all their passports preventing them crossing the Channel.

The point is that we are, or should be, all in this together.

Title photo: Paulo Miretti

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Chris White

Chris White

Chris White is a former UK national newspaper journalist and was the founder and editor of a magazine focussed on EU affairs.

Now writing for EUToday, Chris has his own column, 'Chris's Corner'.

Chris is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK and the oldest in the world, having been founded in October 1884

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