How Boris Johnson Has Defied Political Gravity—Succeeding By Doing Things That Would Cause Others to Crash and Burn

From a story on by Ryan Heath headlined “Boris Johnson’s downfall”:

Boris Johnson knows a thing or two about chaos. His personal life has been characterized by it; he injected it into the 2016 Brexit referendum by choosing the “Leave” side at the last minute (despite growing up in Brussels as the son of an EU official); and he arrived in Downing Street after spending months destabilizing Prime Minister Theresa May, his party leader. Now Johnson is on course to leave the prime ministership neck deep in scandals.

In the latest Westminister sex scandal (there’s been at least nine in 2022 alone), it emerged Tuesday that Johnson — after claiming no knowledge — was warned about alleged serial sexual assaulter Chris Pincher’s behavior on at least five separate occasions since July 2019. Indeed, it was Johnson’s job to know: He was Pincher’s boss at the U.K. Foreign Office in 2019, and his boss again in Downing Street after he appointed Pincher as a party whip.

Labour’s opposition leader Keir Starmer locked eyes on Johnson in the House of Commons this morning and suggested he was so familiar with the problem he had even joked “Pincher by name, Pincher by nature.” Starmer slammed the remaining Cabinet members as “nodding dogs” guilty of a “pathetic spectacle” in allowing Johnson to remain in power. Read bellwether columnist Alice Thomson on why enough is enough.

BORIS THE REMAINER: There is no easy mechanism to force Johnson out of power, and Johnson insists he will stay on. “F- – – that” was Johnson’s reply to an ally asking if he would step down.

Former colleague Rory Stewart noted: “We are now entering the stage where it will be almost impossible for Boris Johnson to replace and fill his ministry positions.” The resignations are flowing at such at rate that there are at least 16 junior ministerial vacancies, and perhaps as many as 19.

UNPOPULAR POPULIST: Can you imagine a female leader fashioning her hair like she just got out of bed? That’s a daily reminder of how Johnson has often defied political gravity — succeeding by doing things that would cause others to crash and burn.

Johnson relied on electoral success to maintain his gravity-defying bubble. But there are only so many lies and falsehoods one can pile up around oneself. Voters, Britain’s powerful newspaper newspapers, MPs and now ministers on Johnson’s payroll have all turned against him. Fewer than one in five voters (18 percent) thinks he should remain — even a majority of Conservative voters wants him to leave office.

What Johnson achievements will history books recall? Getting Britain out of the EU, mostly. He also locked in Britain’s net zero emissions pathway — the end point of a 15-year process started under David Cameron, which saw the British Conservatives split from their American and Australian counterparts on climate. Historians will lament his Covid management, which nearly caused him to lose his own life.

Next in line: New Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi — who came to Britain as a Kurdish refugee fleeing Saddam Hussein and worked as a pollster before politics — has not fully explained why he attended a men’s-only “Presidents Club” dinner in 2018 where dozens of women say they were sexually assaulted and harassed by guests, and where items up for charity auction included strip club trips and plastic surgery “to spice up your wife.”

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