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US-UK relations

How I envy Britain’s “quaint” politics

Johnson with Trump in Spitting Image

As an American liberal, the schadenfreude of watching Boris Johnson’s collapse “is mixed with envy”, says Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. A still-functioning democracy dispatched its “bombastic populist leader” because his amorality and dishonesty grew simply too much. Johnson and Donald Trump shared “certain parallels”: an appeal to disaffected working-class voters, contempt for truth, and of course “poufy yellow hair”. But the countries they operated in are very different. The UK’s parliamentary system is “generally more effective” than America’s presidential model; British people are still capable of being shocked by sexual harassment and shameless lies; there is no powerful, heavily armed faction that regularly threatens violence. The country’s government is falling apart “precisely because its society is not”.

I’m also jealous of the “relative quaintness” of the scandal that brought Johnson down: lying about someone else’s sexual misconduct! The behaviour of Johnson and Chris Pincher was, to be clear, egregious – the quaint part was its “near universal condemnation”. Partygate was similar: the British public’s intolerance of Downing Street’s hypocritical lockdown-breaking implies a “democratic sensibility”, in which everyone is at least supposed to be bound by the same rules. “Watching Johnson’s fall after living through Trump is like chasing a slasher film with a cosy mystery. Both may be murder stories, but only one has a reassuring order to it.”