Euan McColm: Mortifying Brexiteer analysis is the real insult to UK

There is no good reason you should know the name of Imran Ahmad Khan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been unable to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been unable to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen

The Conservative MP for Wakefield was carried by the Tory wave that smashed through Labour’s “red wall” in last year’s general election. Khan is a member of parliament not because of his great personal qualities but because of the Eurosceptic fervour that saw voters in the Midlands and the North of England support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan - if we may describe it as such - to “get Brexit done”.

But Khan, it appears, reckons obscurity is not for him. He’s decided to make a name for himself and if that requires him also to reveal himself to be a thwocking great buffoon, then Khan is up for the challenge.

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It emerged on Friday that Johnson tried to unblock Brexit trade negotiations by requesting phone calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel only to be told that, no, actually, there would be no talks behind the back of the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

Imran Ahmad Khan MP

This outcome seems both logical and entirely predictable. The thing about the EU, after all, is that it is united in protecting the interests of its members. It can’t have folk sneaking off for cosy chats that might undermine its position.

But Khan refused to see this simple truth.

On Twitter - the social media platform which allows people to demonstrate their stupidity - Khan wrote that he stood with the millions of Brits who were “deeply insulted” by the “shocking news: that Merkel wouldn’t take Johnson’s call. This, he went on like the absolute arse he is, was an insult to every one of us, whether we support the PM or not.

I don’t know about you but I managed to feel completely uninsulted by Merkel’s decision. In fact, my reaction was to respect her good sense.

But back to Khan, for a moment. Having informed us that we had all been insulted by the refusal of EU leaders to indulge our imbecilic PM, he went on to ponder whether our EU “friends” (his inverted commas) had neither regard nor respect for the UK and its sacrifices that “permit them to live in freedom and prosperity today, safely away from the shadow of totalitarianism?”

Khan was born in 1973 so I’m not sure precisely what sacrifices he made to ensure such freedoms for others. Maybe it was something he did while he was working for the advertising company M&C Saatchi. I’m sure that was it.

This is where Brexiteers now find themselves: invoking the Second World War as if that gives the UK special privileges. It’s excruciatingly embarrassing not to mention deeply insulting to the memory of those who genuinely did sacrifice so much and who may not have been doing so in order that, three quarters of a century later, a bunch of spivs could further impoverish the poor in the name of breaking ties with our allies.

We’ll find out today whether the Prime Minister has been able to agree a trade deal with the EU. The signs are not good.

Johnson has told us to prepare for a “wonderful” Australia style arrangement. This is a piece of turd-polishing of the very highest standard. An Australia style arrangement is, in fact, No Deal. Even the Australians don’t like their Australia style arrangement which is why they are currently trying to negotiate something better with the EU.

Throughout last year’s general election campaign, Johnson spoke of his “oven ready deal” with the EU. Appearing on the Today programme, the then chief secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said this “oven ready deal” mean a trade agreement was a sure thing. “We won’t,” he said, need to plan for no-deal because we will have a deal. There is going to be a trade deal.”

In the past few days, Johnson and assorted cabinet ministers have been at great pains to assure us that the “oven ready deal” related only to the UK’s departure from the EU. They were, I’m bound to say, less careful about making that distinction during the general election campaign.

As the UK slides towards a Brexit free of any kind of trade deal with the EU, it’s worth remembering that the man who brought the country to this place did so not because he believed it was in the interests of the UK but because he believed it was the course most likely to help him realise his ambition of becoming Prime Minister.

He hoped to live out his fantasies of being some modern-day Churchill but, instead, he will now spend his premiership insisting that each miserable consequence of Brexit is an opportunity. As more companies close and more jobs go, he will remind us that we are “sovereign” and that we own all the fish, now. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear him describe rising unemployment as an Australia style leisure deal.

Brexit won’t hurt Johnson. He’s a wealthy man and fully insulated against its impact. The same goes for the likes of Imran Ahmad Khan.

But it will hurt others. It will hurt those who lose their livelihoods because the Prime Minister tore up our trading agreement with our closest neighbours so that he could get one over on David Cameron.

That Khan is an MP and Johnson our Prime Minister is an insult to every Briton.