Farrukh Dhondy | Hedgie desperate to clean up mess, as BoJo all out to return to No. 10

Columnist  | Farrukh Dhondy

Opinion, Columnists

BoJo signed a deal whereby the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would remain open for the passage of goods

File Photo (AFP)

“O Bachchoo, why not ‘we’ instead of ‘they’

And why not ‘and’ in place of ‘or’?

We share the light and darkness, night and day

The present, future and what went before

No shaman can deny our common fate

The flock pass through the pasture’s open gate.”

From The Rumbaba of Bumbaba, by Bachchoo


Pity Hedgie Sunak, the Prime Minister with the small broom to sweep up the mountain of rubbish left to him by his predecessors. His latest venture is an attempt to solve the Northern Ireland Protocol, which BoJo negotiated with the European Union in his desperation to claim that he would “Get Brexit Done”.

BoJo signed a deal whereby the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would remain open for the passage of goods. That meant goods travelling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland would be subject to controls, checks, customs and import duties to ensure that Britain was not sneaking goods into the Republic, which is an EU country.

This meant, as the Ulster Protestant political party, the DUP, describes it, that there would be a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain. They said this was unacceptable and in protest refused to take their place as the Opposition party in the Northern Ireland parliament. The parliament became inactive, violating the Good Friday peace agreement between the representatives of the Catholic and Protestant populations.

Hedgie is desperate to solve this dilemma as Joe Biden has repeatedly implied that no trade deal between the UK and the United States can go ahead while the Good Friday peace deal is suspended. It gives Hedgie a huge headache, especially as BoJo won’t keep his mouth shut and is making noises which indicate that he will raise objections to any reversals that Hedgie thrashes out with the European Union.

My reading, gentle reader, is that BoJo is on manoeuvres to try and oust Hedgie and regain the prime ministership. He has just bought a £4 million mansion in Oxfordshire and perhaps intends to contest the next election from the constituency in which he will be living.

Not that Hedgie was absent when all the apocalyptic horsemen were riding towards this happy land. He was chancellor of the exchequer and a Cabinet member when the protocol went through. He was at the Cabinet table between 2017 and 2020 when Priti “Clueless” and then “Cruella” Braverman, as successive home secretaries, increased their ministry’s outsourcing consultancy fees by 788 per cent on contracts dealing with “security, immigration and border preparations for leaving the EU”. So, did one of these highly-paid consultants come up with the idea of sending immigrants to Rwanda? I mention the decisions of these home secretaries to point out that poor Hedgie is not only dealing with these “border preparations” but with the complete mess in which these consultants relied on by Clueless and Cruella have left security and immigration.

BoJo’s ambition to return to 10 Downing Street may be a pie in the sky. He is undoubtedly smart and charming, if a bit economical with the truth. I met him several times when he was the editor of the right-wing weekly The Spectator and when he was a backbench MP. One of the first times we met was when, over breakfast at the house of one of the Speccie’s writers, I introduced him to Charles Sobhraj, who had a story about selling nuclear triggers to some Arab customers. BoJo heard the story which would have, if it was believed and substantiated, supported George W. Bush and Tony Blair’s claim that Saddam Hussein was in possession of, or was planning to possess, weapons of mass destruction. BoJo unselfishly concluded that the story was too big for his weekly publication and said he’d put Sobhraj in touch with a national daily. Nothing came of it as I’ve recalled in Hawk and Hyena, my memoir of my dealings with Sobhraj.

BoJo’s claim to be the prodigal who shall or must return is based on three distinct boasts. He and his supporters reiterate these at every opportunity. He says he led the West’s support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukraine. Second, he “Got Brexit Done” -- though it seems to have escaped him that over 60 per cent of the British public now think that was a grave mistake.

And third, he says it was he -- and he alone -- who rolled out the anti-Covid vaccine and saved thousands of lives in these islands. There now emerge dissenting opinions about BoJo’s reluctance to order a lockdown to save lives.

The other contradictory fact is that the “AstraZeneca” vaccine was researched in Oxford in collaboration with the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world, the Serum Institute of India in Pune. I am reliably informed that Oxford and the Serum Institute spent millions, if not billions, of pounds on the research and manufacture of the vaccine. AstraZeneca came in at the testing stage of the vaccine. When it was ready for distribution in Britain and internationally, it was BoJo who insisted that it be attributed to AstraZeneca, and that it’s name and labelling should bear the name of a British company rather than that of the Indian Serum Institute. All very patriotic.

Last week, the country was informed that the renowned “British” firm AstraZeneca was taking its operations to the Republic of Ireland to take advantage of EU tax laws and subsidies. Has Brexit now done Bojexit?