As a boy, he had always wanted to be “world king,” writes his sister, Rachel Johnson, in her family biography. His role model was the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In 2014, Johnson even published a book about his predecessor. One thing, however, is becoming increasingly clear: Johnson is unable to deal with the challenges facing him. He is a populist, a man of grandiose gestures, as opposed to a prudent ruler who navigates his country through crises, his hands firmly on the steering wheel. His empty promises and smoke-and-mirrors approach are debauching the country — a state of affairs now deplored by die-hard conservatives.
His record after one year in office is catastrophic. Basically, he hasn’t accomplished anything since his election victory. To be sure, he celebrated the UK’s exit from the EU as a success, but in the meantime it seems likely that negotiations on a comprehensive free-trade agreement with the EU will come to nothing by the end of the year, meaning the UK will crash out of the bloc once and for all in a free fall that will presumably lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the car industry alone. Long lines of trucks at the borders and even a shortage of fresh groceries are problems UK residents could be facing a few months from now.
In addition, the purported quick trade agreement with the US will probably not materialise any time soon. And instead of ushering in a “golden era” with China, the British government found itself forced to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, thereby alienating Beijing. In a world in which the dividing lines between the leading powers are becoming more and more distinct, the UK finds itself rather isolated.
What’s more, the Russia report published by the British parliament earlier this week does not show Johnson in a positive light. The report dealt with possible Russian interference in, among other things, the UK’s Brexit referendum. Russia posed a significant threat to the UK, lawmakers concluded — lamenting that the government “badly underestimated” the threat. Johnson’s Conservatives, in particular, are benefiting from party donations made by oligarchs residing in London: For instance, in return for a game of tennis with the PM, the wife of a former Putin ally shelled out 160,000 GBP ($205,000). The party has managed to haul in several million pounds staging this and similar events.
It also raises questions that Johnson delayed the Russia report’s publication for months and that he tried, unsuccessfully, to install Chris Grayling — one of his most loyal followers in the Tory party but also someone deemed wholly incompetent — as chairman of Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. Such moves give the lasting impression that political calculations, not competence, play the largest role for Johnson when it comes to filling the country’s key posts. He followed a similar pattern when he assembled his Cabinet, picking only Brexit stalwarts. The upshot is, nothing is running smoothly. Dealing with the most pressing issue of the moment, the fight against the COVID-19, Johnson bumbles from one misstep to the next.
If, as a consequence of such total failure, Scotland decided to go it alone — a significant majority of Scots are in favour of leaving the UK — blame would have to be laid primarily on Johnson’s doorstep. After just one year on his throne, the “world king” already looks very foolish.
— This article has been provided by Deutsche Welle