Spare a thought for the UK’s embattled lamb producers. How long will it be, they are wondering, until they’re forced to wear facemasks, as insisted on by the British Medical Association, no matter how lonely or isolated their properties in the Welsh hills or Yorkshire Dales? And what will happen, they fret, with the third of their production currently exported to the ferociously protectionist EU if Britain finally leaves on 1 January without a trade deal, as is still possible? And, to add further to their woes, how much damage will the royal family’s sudden endorsement of evangelical vegetarianism do to what remains of their markets?
Compared with the Queen’s impeccable record of staying away from political controversy, the antics of many of the other royals are extraordinary. HRH the Duke of Sussex, has, of course, proved the most spectacular embarrassment, effectively calling on Americans to vote against the head of state of Britain’s most important ally. Meanwhile, his brother William is now the royal family’s publicity branch for David Attenborough, who says that to save the planet we should stop eating meat. Attenborough says he supports Extinction Rebellion’s objectives, so the second in line to the throne is also associated with these extremists’ insistence that we should be carbon neutral by 2025 – which would mean no less than the destruction of our economies and way of life. William can now expect to be more warmly received in inner-city Guardian-reading territory than in farming communities.
The two young royals are unlikely to receive serious reprimands from their father, with his famous record of wokeness on many issues. Charles, like William, snubbed Donald Trump’s 2018 visit to London, appearing not to understand that the royal family’s role, almost above all else, is to be courteous to visiting foreign leaders, none more so than a US president. Charles has also come out as a fan of the ‘remarkable’ Greta Thunberg and has lent his support to the Davos World Economic Forum’s ‘Great Reset’ plan, based on the bonkers premise that climate change, Covid-19 and racism are all somehow interlinked and can be solved by an integrated, unspecified masterplan. He has made the whacko claims that Covid-19 provides ‘a window of opportunity to reset the global economy’ and that ‘unless we take the action necessary, and build in a greener and more inclusive and sustainable way, then we will have more and more pandemics.’ The heir to the throne, like the WEF’s China-friendly Klaus Schwab, seems to overlook the real worry – communist dictatorships which play around with viruses in laboratories and then let them spread around the world.
The royals’ discourtesy to Trump was unforgiveable and you would have thought alarm bells would have started ringing in Buckingham Palace when William began flirting with a jihad on many of Britain’s farmers. And given the importance the Queen attaches to the Commonwealth, you’d also think advisors might have pointed out to Charles and William that climate change is a very controversial issue in some of her realms, not least Australia.
But given Britain’s political correctness on matters environmental, the Royals are probably barely aware that there’s anything but a consensus on climate change. When the UK legislated last year to be the first G7 country to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, the only real dissent was from the eco-Left which complained this was too slow. Johnson this month announced even more ambitious commitments – to make Britain ‘the Saudi Arabia of wind power’, powering all homes and electrical cars by 2030 and possibly bringing forward the date for phasing out new non-electric cars from 2035 to 2030. As with the 2050 commitment, there was virtually no heretical questioning of practicalities or costs. But there was a warm welcome from Greenpeace.
Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for climate change activism is indistinguishable from that of his soft-left predecessors, Theresa May and David Cameron. Still, on one issue – Brexit – so far he remains true to the Tory base, resisting EU pressure to compromise on Britain’s sovereignty to achieve a free trade deal by accepting current access to its fishing waters and conformity with EU rules and standards, policed by the European Court of Justice. Theresa May would have capitulated long ago.
Yet Johnson has still disappointed many Tories. The euphoria of many was telling recently when it was reported that the former editor of this magazine, or at least its UK version, veteran right-wing warrior and serial BBC critic Charles Moore was his favourite to be appointed as its chairman. That dissolved into disappointment when it turned out Moore didn’t want the job – so why was the story leaked? With similar ineptitude, Number 10 has briefed out that ministers are to prevent publicly-funded instititions removing statues and otherwise desecrating Britain’s history and heritage. After which it emerged that the National Maritime Museum, clearly undeterred by the prime minister, planned to ‘challenge’ Britain’s ‘barbaric history of race and colonialism’ and to make ‘wholesale changes’ to how Lord Horatio Nelson is presented.
Approaching the first anniversary of his big election win, Johnson gives every impression of being at sea on many issues – the pandemic, illegal immigration, the culture wars and the woke-left civil service and police. At best he’s a half-hearted Tory. Still, he’ll salvage a degree of support as long as he stands his ground on Brexit. And, mercifully for him, assuming his strong majority survives, he still has four years until he faces the voters again.
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Mark Higgie is the Spectator Australia’s Europe Correspondent
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