In The Times today Matthew Parris compares Johnson’s COVID gamble with Margaret Thatcher’s Falklands. It’s an interesting analogy, though I think a false one. Parris exaggerates the risk of failure in the South Atlantic in 1982. The United States played a crucial often covert role in supporting Britain. Had the Task Force got into serious trouble the US would have upped her involvement to a more military one. It may have been the beginning of the end for the Old Alliance in the 1980s but it was still there, just.
Today Britain is friendless, an extraordinary state of affairs when looked at historically. In 1956 at Suez we at least had the French and the Israelis – but the Americans thought we were mad, said so, and the game was immediately up.
The Britain without allies after Suez is strongly analogous to the Britain without friends today. Try and find nations that support us, let alone want to copy us, on COVID and you’ll look in vain. In 1956 we hung out the flags and the media was mostly behind Eden. So it is today for Johnson with the dash for “freedom” – for now. The support for Britain’s dishonest attempt to unravel the Northern Ireland protocol is also totally absent beyond the Orangemen. Crucially President Biden, like his predecessor over Suez, thinks Britain is wrong.
Having rejected a formal partnership and economic ties with Europe the “Belarus” option is in play. That country is the only other European nation other than Britain to go it alone. We are increasingly like the fans of Millwall FC seeming to delight in the fact that everyone hates us.
Britain Contra Mundum is then far from new. Suez, The Falklands, Iraq and other adventures had little or no support from allies and friends. But COVID is different, it’s a global enemy demanding global solutions. Not a time for English exceptionalism you’d think. But that’s what we’ve got. Similarly we are actually putting at risk the Good Friday Agreement with our volte face in Northern Ireland. The similarities between these two acts of stupidity and treachery are that people will die unless somebody stops our reckless Prime Minister in his tracks.