Boris Johnson leaves nothing but a more isolated and angry UK

Boris Johnson leaves nothing but a more isolated and angry UK

The brief, intense and controversial government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended in the storm, but it certainly had a better ending than that of his great-grandfather. Almost exactly a century ago Ali Kemal, one of Turkey's best-known journalists and a liberal politician, was kidnapped while at the barber, lynched by a mob, hanged from a tree and bludgeoned his head. It's hard to think that the more orthodox, anti-populist part of the Tories will go that far. For now, conservatives will be limited to chaos and fratricidal warfare.

Like Lega leader Matteo Salvini and former US president Donald Trump before him, Johnson seemed destined to open a long political cycle. Instead, he too ended sooner than many analysts predicted, put out by his own coalition after just 2 years and 348 days. One of the shortest post-war governments, compared to Thatcher's 11 208 and Blair's 10 years and 56 days.

Two years, that of the cosmopolitan BoJo - a genuinely liberal when he was Mayor of London and yet, then, perfectly at home in the clothes of an elite populist - in which anything and everything has happened. Starting with the finalization of Brexit (albeit with bureaucratic, economic and legal consequences still to be resolved) and the new independence temptations of Northern Ireland and Scotland. His presidency will remain in history as one of the most innovative compared to the previous political structure, capable of winning the elections three years ago with the largest majority since 1987, but also as one of the most divisive and incompetent.

Someone says that prime ministers are only remembered for one thing: in Johnson's case it will be the exit from the European Union. But many will also remember him as the premier who had the country in his hands for a few moments and an unrepeatable opportunity: that of overturning society, the party, politics like a sock, with a broken opposition and an unprecedented electoral base. , made up of both the skilled workers and disillusioned retirees of Labor and the wealthy financials who routinely vote Tory. An undoubtedly wasted opportunity.

Boris Johnson ruled as one of those cosmopolitan sultans who used to be with his Turkish great-grandfather, in an oriental potentate wrapped in court intrigues, to garrison a shattered empire he seeks in distant wars (but not too much) a reason to still feel important. An almost pre-modern leader, gifted with great intelligence and tolerance but also who does not pay too much attention to the rules of the game or to the details. Racist? Unlike Trump, his most unfortunate outings have been the result of more opportunism than conviction.

Even this would have been forgiven him, perhaps, if his impetuous personality had been accompanied by a sensible and coherent vision. Unfortunately for Johnson's people, both Thatcher and Blair reshaped Britain in their own image and likeness, in the face of economic liberalism and social progressivism.

Those who voted for Brexit hoping to launch their "vaffa" against the system, however, today not only do not see substantial differences with the 2019 pre-Johnson, but not even with 2016 (when the Leave won, albeit by only four points) or with 2010. The only tangible result of 12 years of Tory government could be the significant increase in homelessness and the gentrification of entire metropolitan neighborhoods in London, with prohibitive costs for anyone who does not study or work. 24 hours a day. Johnson had monstrous consensus and a parliamentary majority to dent progressive dominance in institutions, but his government limited itself to a few rumblings against woke and freedom of speech. Once again, the populism of the radicalized bourgeoisie manifests itself as a vast but empty container, unable to be truly transformative, unable to really set history back in motion.

This is Johnson's real failure: to have brought Britain outside the European Union but failed to deliver on the true promise implied by Brexit. Not so much to change this or that trade agreement or protocol on banana labeling, as to give the people of Leave the feeling that they can really live an alternative. He did not succeed, Johnson, and both the brutal policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and the interventionism in Ukraine were ways to get out of the way, and to feed his audience a redemption that cannot be found elsewhere. was manifested.

Whatever the premier's epilogue will be, the 14 million voters who brought Boris Johnson to power cannot be ignored. Many of them will feel frustrated, disappointed, aware that their populist moment is in crisis. The (temporary?) Exit of their ferryman will inevitably be followed by a debate on the nature of post-Brexit conservatism. It will not be possible not to take into account the electoral coalition - tendentially conservative in culture and rather interventionist in economics - that Brexit has produced and that Johnson has mobilized, but has not managed to maintain.

Everything that seems to be ready revolutionizing liberal democracies doesn't work, and Johnson is just the latest chapter in this impact on reality. With Johnson lost, the part of Great Britain that supported him will hardly be seduced by the political offer of his successor successors (whether Tory or Labor, if they take refuge in the ivory towers and barbagia of the old optimistic schemes of the past) . And it will not be convenient for anyone to let this public macerate in the terror and desperation of having lost every say in the matter.

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