Britain’s “dispensable prime minister” leaves Downing Street, giving off the most British feeling of a better life after the empire.
SAN FRANCISCO–Like maybe Mark Twain quipped of this city, the coldest winter for Boris Johnson appears to be July in London.
“I’m sad to give up the best job in the world,” Prime Minister Johnson said, announcing his departure last week, “But them’s the breaks.” In a moment of humility, of reality, Johnson intoned: “No one is indispensable.”
It was Johnson at its best: head-shakingly charmed, and leaving listeners wanting more.
Only a few days after the July 4th, members of Britain’s Conservative Party declared their independence from its leader. As swiftly as possible, the transition from David Cameron through Theresa May and Johnson to Johnson and now to whoever the-heck happened. Major. Blair. Brown, who lost to Cameron in an election and never won one).
They call the Californian rancheria San Francisco “Baghdad By The Bay.” Herb Caen wrote it in a charming way before Saddam Hussein and Abu Bakr al–Baghdadi. But it is London in recent years that has cut the figure of Baghdad on the Thames, with its July revolutions. If the old empire were less psycho-spiritually defanged, or to put it in a better light, less violent, the summer coup d’etats across the pond would be the stuff worthy of comparison to the summer revolutions of Egypt (to the interest, and perhaps delight, of the country’s legion of Arabists), or even mutinous heyday France (to the revulsion of the country’s Francophobic scribbler class).
Johnson had a new wife, the millennial Carrie Johnson. This was confirmed by a vulgar profile written by Lara Pendergast. Johnson’s rip-roaring 2019 election was embraced by some national conservatives, but by the Biden years, Johnson was talking up, sort of aimlessly, a more “feminine” future and the imperative to “build back better.”
A former senior Trump administration official once told me that Johnson recoiled privately from comparisons to Donald Trump: The implication being that Johnson regarded himself as an intellect, if not more urbane, while the 45th president was a Sean Hannity viewer, and Manhattan emigree (hey, that doesn’t sound so bad).
But Johnson’s fear is that Trump may have been wrong all along. Policy, schmolicy. NeverTrumpers or “NeverBorisers”, might have some genuine comments about their characters. The end result was that, regardless of their merits and whatever their political trailblazings, they lost their power in the first term (an open question still). They were defined by hate for Covid lockdowns, betrayed senior staffers, and left small courts to their wives.
They won power but struggled and continue to struggle to use it. As evidenced by the lineup that appears to be willing to take on Trump in the upcoming presidential election, “45” will only become “47” in a show of brute and open force. Johnson and his party have failed to intimidate their challengers, while he has not intimidated a mutiny.
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Taken out by putative anger at a number of scandals, the last being a groping brauhaha that revolved around an M.P. Johnson, who is literally known as “Pincher”, will continue to serve in the caretaker government until September. There has been some speculation about Johnson not going. However, Dominic Cummings, his ex-wizard and another friend, says Johnson is simply creating a narrative to “stab in the back” for his future columns. Johnson represented this constituency very well as a journalist who rose to the top.
The weakest candidate for succession at the moment is Rishi, former chancellor to the Exchequer who, until recently, was apparently considering moving to California. Sunak attended business school in San Francisco (and was pictured wearing a “STANFORD”, a sweatshirt with tech bros, at the pleasure of his detractors). He also owns Santa Monica’s Hacienda. Is he really interested in this job? Sunak, as pointed out by Twitter’s genius “Populism updates,” is not popular and has been a victim of scandal. This doesn’t make much sense.
For the all-famed Orwellian insistence on a putative “coherence” in that country, the United Kingdom increasingly seems to not have any.