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Boris Johnson Invites Himself to the Battle of Ipsus

August 31st, 2019

After Alexander the Great died, his actual successors were a newborn baby and a half-brother who suffered learning difficulties. Unsurprisingly, his cadre of incredibly capable generals took real power and soon fell out, leading to the warring era of the Diadochi (Successors).

Excepting Perdiccas, who reigned as regent for the few years immediately after Alexander’s death, Antigonus Monopthalmus came closest to uniting the vast realm that the Macedonians had conquered. He was pre-eminent amongst the Diadochi, with as much power as all the rest combined.

And that success led to his death and the destruction of his empire.

Seeing they had to unite or face certain defeat, the other Diadochi (Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy) worked together against Antigonus, culminating in the Battle of Ipsus. It was lost by Antigonus, who was killed on the battlefield.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson may very well have invited himself to his own Battle of Ipsus.

His recent decision on proroguing Parliament means that time is incredibly short for his political opponents. And that will help them coalesce, because it’s now or never. Even some Leave types are less than happy with the timing and length of the prorogation, as it’s blatantly scheduled to reduce Parliamentary time for discussion about the EU matter.

[It’s worth pointing out that others may argue that constitutional dicking about has been conducted repeatedly by pro-EU MPs, not least with Grieve’s meaningful vote, which didn’t necessarily operate as its creator intended].

However, the PM has not been ruthless. Some time does remain. And he’s emboldened his opponents by implicitly conceding that he fears losing in Parliament (otherwise why take this action?). Morale is boosted amongst those seeking to avert no deal, and they know they must act quickly, reducing the chance (although it’s still possible) they’ll fail to agree between themselves what to do.

Unity is in very short supply in politics these days. But the PM’s ill-considered cunning plan might just be enough to get pro-EU MPs to stop faffing about and actually do something.

Historical note: Ipsus could have gone the other way. Antigonus was old (in his 80s) and not the man he had been. If the result had been a victory for him, he might well have taken almost all of Alexander’s territories.

Morris Dancer

Morris Dancer is a long standing contributor to PB