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Opinion: Boris Johnson’s departure is overdue

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, failed on Boris Johnson. It wasn’t losing elections or the opposition that brought down the populist conservative, but his own character. In the end, after a series of scandals, after three years in office, the prime minister was seen as a liar, a cover-up, and a denier.

His own cabinet and his own party concluded that the one-time hopeful was, in the end, just an embarrassment. Boris Johnson, who certainly has political talent and is able to seize power and persuade people, ended up falling through a chaotic web of lies, unfulfilled promises, and inflated complacency.

He considers himself irreplaceable

It is fitting that he now apparently intends to stay in Downing Street as a “lame duck” for several months until the Conservative party has elected a new leader at a regular party conference. Boris Johnson considers himself irreplaceable, clings to power, and has not seen why he has to go and that he alone is responsible for it. In his resignation speech, he blamed the “herd instinct” among members of parliament. In this misjudgment, he is tragically reminiscent of his populist role model Donald Trump: Like Trump, Johnson does not want to see that his time is up. Like Trump, Johnson appears unconcerned about the damage his messy departure is doing to his country’s political system.

Europe correspondent Bernd Riegert

Boris Johnson kept his promise of 2019 and Brexit, i.e. the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, made possible. The unconventional Boris Johnson did what his hapless but at least responsible predecessor Theresa May failed to do: he signed an exit agreement with the EU that he knew he would never be able to keep. Because he probably never really wanted to keep it. The treaty creates a virtual goods and customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which remains part of the EU internal market. Actually unacceptable for the Brexit disciples, who allowed themselves to be blinded by the flexible populists. But for the Conservatives, Johnson still achieved a brilliant victory in the general election in December 2019.

Schadenfreude in the EU

From then on it went downhill. Boris Johnson simply wanted to unilaterally break the international treaty with the EU this spring and cover it up with a few loose jokes. This will not take place for the time being because the caretaker government in London is no longer able to do so. There is now some >Whether the relationship between the EU and Britain will get better or worse cannot be predicted at the moment.

Boris Johnson steered his country through the corona pandemic on a lurching course. At first, he didn’t take it seriously, but then he managed to organize a successful vaccination campaign, which had an impact earlier than in the rest of Europe. But Johnson disregarded the lockdown rules imposed by his own government with parties at his official residence – which finally broke his political neck.

His greatest success: negotiating a Brexit treaty that was impossible to implement

Lame British duck

The new prime minister will have to deal with high inflation, the slump in foreign trade after Brexit, the tense geopolitical situation after the Russian attack on Ukraine, the world hunger crisis, and the phase-out of fossil fuels. In terms of foreign policy, Great Britain will be paralyzed for months by Johnson’s announced departure.

Now a phase of uncertainty follows until a new government is in office. This is not very helpful given the multiple crises and the need to work together internationally. Johnson acknowledged that the present looks bleak but sees a “bright future” for the next government team.

Boris Johnson made no secret of the fact that he was emulating the great Prime Minister Winston Churchill. At times he even imitated his gait and gestures. But of course, that’s not enough. Unlike Churchill, Johnson had no firm principles, no deep convictions, and little conscience.

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