每日英語跟讀 Ep.K413: The Delightful Implosion of Boris Johnson
There isn’t much good news in the world these days, so it’s worth taking time to appreciate the delightful implosion of soon-to-be former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
His 2019 landslide victory against the hapless Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party seemed to be ushering in a long period of right-wing dominance. Johnson, said The Economist, “is well placed to become one of the most powerful prime ministers in modern times.” Less than three years later, undone by scandal, incompetence and the rebellion of his own party, he’s announced plans to step aside once a new conservative leader can be found.
The shocking success of the Brexit referendum, the cause Johnson eventually rode to power, presaged Trump’s even more shocking presidential victory. Both shared a contempt for truth and the norms of their respective governments.
But, of course, Britain and the United States are very different countries. British people are still evidently capable of being shocked by officials’ sexual harassment and shameless untruths, even when those officials are on their side. Their country is not heavily armed and does not have a powerful faction that regularly threatens violence. Britain still appears to have some minimal social agreement about acceptable political behavior.
That was partly because Britain’s lockdown was much stricter than ours and applied to the whole country; unlike Trump’s partying in 2020, Johnson’s violated rules his government was imposing on others. Still, to be really furious at hypocrisy, you have to have some expectation that people in power will follow the rules. And to be shamed by the revelation of hypocrisy, as the Tories seemed to be, you have to accept that the standards applied to others also apply to you.
Johnson’s career is ending, at least for now, the way Trump’s should have ended — with public revulsion leading his own party to oust him. Like Trump, Johnson initially wanted to cling to power when it was no longer feasible; unlike with Trump, there was never a prospect of him summoning an armed mob. Watching Johnson’s fall after living through Trump is like chasing a slasher film with a cozy mystery. Both may be murder stories, but only one has a reassuring order to it.