Boris Johnson is definitely Trump’s kind of guy

The British prime minister Boris Johnson lost yet another major vote in parliament today when it voted 306-289 against a government motion to suspend parliament so that the Conservative party could hold their annual conference as scheduled from September 29 through October 3. This is the seventh consecutive vote he has lost and he has not won a single one, an astonishing record because in the British parliamentary system, the government almost never loses a vote. Add to that the strong rebuke that the UK Supreme Court handed to him two days ago and you can label him a major loser.

But just like his hero Donald Trump, Johnson has gone on the attack, ignoring calls to tone down his rhetoric and instead firing up his supporters with incendiary language, calling their proposals to delay Brexit a ‘surrender’ to the EU and charging that they are traitors and not patriots, so much so that MPs who oppose him have been receiving death threats from people who use Johnson’s own words, just like Trump supporters behave here.

Martin Kettle writes that Johnson has lost become utterly reckless in the way he is handling his office and the cynical way that he is using his defeats to inflame voters.

An angry and disturbingly pumped-up Boris Johnson’s response to the court in the recalled House of Commons tonight was an act of total contempt – for the courts, for parliament and ultimately for public and political decency. For the time being, Johnson still retains much of the formal power of the prime minister. But the role’s inner power, its moral authority, the holder’s ability to govern and his meaningful capacity to represent the country are practically shot. There is nothing tragic about this for Johnson personally. There is everything tragic for the country that never asked for him to become its leader.

These were merely the warm-up acts for Johnson’s own eventual appearance in the Commons this evening. But they had already pointed unerringly to the strategy that the prime minister was to adopt and which, it was now clear, he had intended to adopt from the very start when he spoke in New York. That strategy was that this is now a naked political fight to the death with the opposition and with the unbelievers. He is not interested in any of the issues on which the judges ruled. All that matters to him is to wade through chaos to Brexit. The twin objectives of the Johnson government when it took office after the ousting of Theresa May – Brexit by the end of October and a general election fought on a “people versus the elites” platform – remain utterly unchanged by the supreme court ruling.

Liberal Tories may be deceiving themselves in another way. They continue to believe that Johnson’s aim is really to make a deal with the European Union at the 11th hour… All this, though, mistakes the fact that Johnson is rounding the point of no-return. Like Macbeth in blood, he is stepped so far in recklessness that there is no going back to the kind of compromises and trade-offs that even Johnson voted for earlier in the year.

Day by day, in every way, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish Johnson and Trump. They both belong to the elite class and faithfully promote the interests of the elites while at the same time posturing that they represent ‘the people’ against the establishment, when nothing could be farther from the truth. They will say and do anything that advances their immediate, narrow, personal goals. The above Macbeth allusion is apt in that they have gone too far to step back and are only going to get more and more extreme as they get increasingly cornered. One longs for the day when they will both be thrown onto the trash heap of history.


  1. morsgotha says

    Indeed, I thank the english civil war for the power of parliment, not god. It is what represents my interests.
    Some people would say I am a “remoaner”, which isn’t true, I was apathetic and didn’t vote in the referrendum.

  2. ColeYote says

    So I have a question: is there anything stopping Conservative MPs from picking another party leader without putting it up to a members’ vote?

  3. Mano Singham says


    Interesting question. As I understand it, that would be a violation of the party’s own rules for selecting a leader. But I am not in any way familiar with the bylaws of the party and, who knows, there may be some sort of emergency clause that can be invoked in extreme circumstances. I just don’t know.

  4. KG says


    During the process of electing Johnson (I think that was the timing), a rule was put in place by Tory MPs making it impossible to challenge the winner from within the parliamentary party until they’ve been in post a year. But I don’t think there’s a block on them changing this rule. However, just as with the Republicans in Congress in the USA, most of the parliamentary party have committed themselves to Johnson and the extremist faction he now leads (just as with Trump, he himself has no ideology beyond believing that he and people like him should be in charge and without any constraints). They can’t turn back any more than he can.

    This grip of the extremist faction is a natural outcome of the 2016 referendum result, which inevitably placed the political initiative in the hands of the hard right, within and beyond the Tory Party. The particular way this happened was a matter of contingency and errors by others (such as May’s decision to hold an election in 2017, and poor handling of the campaign), but that it would happen in some way was almost inevitable, as the easy deal with the EU deceitfully promised by the Leave campaigners during the referendum campaign was never possible. And the “Lexiteers” -- leftist campaigners for Brexit, are and have been all along “objectively” (as the Marxists like to say) in alliance with the hard right.

    The hard right consists of two overlapping ideological tendencies: the “libertarian” extreme market worshippers, who want to abolish all regulatory protection of employees and the environment, slash taxes and state spending except on the military and the security state, sell off everying else still in public hands, such as the NHS, and trash what remains of the welfare state; and the racists and xenophobes who target immigrants and Muslims. Both are represented both within the Tory Party and in Farage’s pseudo-party (the “Brexit Party” is not in legal terms a political party at all, but a limited company). The party Farage left, UKIP, is wholly in the hands of the racists.

  5. KG says

    I should note that Johnson is, like Trump, personally racist and misogynist, but such prejudices do not amout to a coherent ideology.

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