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Program Information
Takes on the World
Kenneth Surin, Duke Univ. Prof. Emeritus, Literature & Critical Theory
 Jeff Blankfort  Contact Contributor
Aug. 28, 2019, 2:39 p.m.
On the morning that British PM Boris Johnson suspended Parliament, with the Queen’s approval, in order to minimize opposition to his No Deal Brexit come October 31st, I spoke with Prof. Kenneth Surin, of Duke University and a Delegate to the British Labour Party about the implications of Johnson’s action and issues, political and economic that are on the table.

These include the likelihood of a Labour-led coalition government, following a likely vote of “no-confidence” against Johnson who, Surin reminds us, was not elected by the people, but by the vote of his party. As for the economic fall-out, he suggests that if Johnson is looking for a favorable deal with Trump to pump up the British economy, he is not likely to get it and besides, the UK’s economic relationships with France and Germany are far more important.

If Johnson believes he can get one of those countries to offer a better deal than was offered to his predecessor, Theresa May, Surin notes that any new deal would have to be approved by the entire EU and go through Brussels and the best they are likely to offer him is the same as was offered to May.

He also points out that the former members of the Commonwealth owe nothing to the UK and are not likely to make deals that are not on their terms.

What Johnson has done, Surin says, is unprecedented in British history but is constitutional. He simply has shortened the time to 17 days that the Parliament will have to deal with the issue when it returns of Oct.14.

Surin says that Johnson had a choice of a “No deal Brexit,” on October 31, or capitulate and accept the deal the EU had already offered and which May and Parliament had rejected. If he accepted the latter he would quickly be subjected to a “no confidence” vote which he would lose

That there is opposition to Brexit from Scotland which wishes to remain in the EU is of no consequence to John says Surin, since Boris is a strong British nationalists with little concern for those areas far away from London.

When the similarity of the incompetents and unqualified that Johnson has appointed to his cabinet was compared with a similar cast appointed by Trump, Surin said that, unlike his predecessor, he didn’t want anyone in his cabinet who did not fully support him, unlike what Theresa May had experience with her cabinet.

On the well-publicized issue of what will happen at the border between Ireland, a member of the EU and Northern Ireland which is part of the UK, Surin expressed the belief that maintaining the Good Friday agreement between Ireland and Ulster is too important to both sides to let it come apart over this issue. He pointed out that it was the support of Northern Ireland that had put May in power but at this point there are too many contingencies to speculate on the outcome.

Finally, the discussion turned to the charges of antisemitism that have been made against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for its alleged antisemitism, by Britain’s Jewish establishment and the media.

Surin particularly focused on BBC whose program Panorama had produced a hit piece on Corbyn and Labour that featured two British Jews who had been exposed as behind the scenes activists for the Israeli Embassy on a featured expose of the Israel Lobby in the UK by Al Jazeera, one of whom had actually worked there. That BBC did not provide this key information to its viewers.

He was unhappy about the mealy mouthed way that Labour had defended itself against the charges made by the two, both former Labour Party employees, describing them simply as disgruntled ex-employees rather than taking them head on. He suggested that Labour needed to have a team ready to respond to the spurious charges of antisemitism which, he admitted, existed, but far less so than in the ranks of Britain’s other parties and that Islamophobia was a far greater problem in the UK.

Interviewed by Jeff Blankfort

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00:29:53 1 Aug. 28, 2019
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