Boris Johnson’s government is not driven by the national interest but “a destructive, populist, nationalist ideology” under which the UK is “sleepwalking into oblivion”, Gordon Brown has warned.
Launching a blistering attack on the Mr Johnson’s premiership, the former Labour prime minister said Britain, once admired on the world stage for its tolerance and pragmatism, now presented “an ugly picture: of bitter division, intolerance and introversion”.
In The Observer, Mr Brown argued the nation was “at best only a precariously united kingdom” in the face of growing nationalism – and under Mr Johnson it was “devoid of a unifying purpose powerful enough to hold it together”.
The former Scottish MP, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, also accused the nationalist factions of taking a “divide and rule approach” that was “straight from Donald Trump’s playbook”.
In doing do, Mr Brown singled out for criticism the Conservative PM’s new adviser Dominic Cummings, who directed the Vote Leave campaign, saying he “depicts the Commons as the enemy in a ‘people vs parliament’ election”.
The former chancellor and leading Remain campaigner argued the way to halt the rise of “dysfunctional nationalism” was to stop no-deal Brexit “in its tracks”.
Mr Brown’s scathing intervention came after Mr Johnson said he was “a passionate believer in the power of the union” and committed to work “tirelessly to strengthen the United Kingdom” during a tour of the devolved nations.
Mr Johnson has already pledged that the UK will leave the EU by the 31 October deadline, with or without a divorce deal.
Criticising Mr Johnson in his Observer piece, Mr Brown said: “His soundbites, pledging token sums for the NHS and 20,000 more police on the street at some future date, cannot disguise a government driven not by the national interest but by a destructive, populist, nationalist ideology.”
He added: “Johnson’s flying visits to all corners of the UK have done nothing to dispel the impression that under him the world’s most successful multinational state is devoid of a unifying purpose powerful enough to hold it together and to keep four nationalisms – Scottish, Irish, English and also a rising Welsh nationalism – at bay.”
He went on: “Three weeks into the Johnson premiership, English nationalism is on the rise, the Conservative and Unionist party has been reincarnated as the Conservative and Brexit party, unionism appears to be sleepwalking into oblivion and the UK… now presents an ugly picture: of bitter division, intolerance and introversion so extreme that it has sacrificed common sense in favour of a dogmatic abandonment of its own best interests.”
In the article, Mr Brown also blasted Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who he said “fell straight into the nationalist trap” over recent comments in which he said a future Labour government would not block a second Scottish independence referendum.