The cascade of resignations of British officials urging ethically challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yielded the desired result. After an endless series of scandals, and following a stern vow that he would not give up, Johnson finally announced his resignation on Thursday.
It was as if democracy prevailed in the United Kingdom. It was a bit of a shambolic circus, to be sure, consistent with Johnson’s premiership and much of his life (not to mention his hair). But, eventually, the process worked, and Britain retreated from the brink.
The man former President Donald Trump claimed people called “Britain Trump,” eventually resigned in shame for lying, for breaking rules and for trying to get away with it once more.
Viewed from the other side of the Atlantic, the British battle was at once enjoyable and disturbing. Americans, whose democracy has barely survived Trump’s four years, reflexively draw a comparison between the violations that led to Britain’s Conservative Party and the majority in the UK turned away from Johnson and the more contemptuous and dangerous actions of the former US president, who remains to this day the most powerful figure in the Republican Party and looks certain to seek the presidency again.
Both Johnson and Trump came to power with long records of rule -breaking, dishonesty and deception. Their supporters know who they will choose. Their lifelong patterns continued in the office.
By Trumpian standards, however, Johnson’s lies and misconduct as prime minister barely qualifies for the evening’s news.
A tribute to British democracy that Tory leaders decided “enough is enough,” after Johnson was caught lying. The unlikely final straw, the broken spine of the notoriously overloaded camel, landed after he appointed Chris Pincher to a leadership position after he was accused of sexual misconduct. (In a resignation letter to Johnson, Pincher indirectly admitted the allegations, writing, “last night I drank too much” and “humiliated myself and other people.”)
Other allegations of Pincher’s past behavior resurfaced in light of his resignation. For some surprising reason, Johnson kept changing his story about why he appointed Pincher. Instead of admitting a mistake and moving on, he said he did not know about the specific allegations.
Think of it under Trump. It can hardly be ranked in the top 1,000 scandals.
For Johnson, it is stacked with other high-profile controversies. More importantly, there was “Partygate,” the month-long series of prevarications about Johnson’s multiple parties on Downing Street while the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdown. The lies were refuted by photos of the prime minister and his guests at the festive, wine in hand, even after Johnson pretended to be innocent, claiming he “explicitly believed it was a work event. . ”
He became the first British prime minister to be fined for breaking the law and to apologize to parliament “unconditionally.” But he stayed in office and continued to toy with the truth.
Johnson’s behavior and his disregard for reality-which helped him get to office-are shocking by normal standards. By Trump’s standards, timed to utter a compelling 30,573 lies and fraudulent claims while president, and not stopping since leaving office, this is a weak effort.
Ultimately, Johnson was, is, a rightful, charismatic politician, who felt that policies were made for others, and had no doubt about making up stories to get his way. Most of the time he runs away from it. But he is not a dark malignant figure of caliber that threatens US democracy. He is more of the small type, the type that is gradually destroying standards and values-a lasting threat than an immediate threat.
When he resigned as party leader, an unrepentant Johnson blamed himself but “herd instinct.” If that is herd instinct, it is a welcome, a revival of decency; a late recognition that leaders with hollow ethical cores are dangerous to democracies.
It’s not just Americans who automatically think about Trump when they hear that Johnson will finally be held accountable. Across Europe, many draw similarities. Guy Verhofstadt, a longtime Belgian prime minister and now a prominent member of the European Parliament, tweeted, “Boris Johnson’s reign ends in disgrace, like his friend Donald Trump
. The end of an era of transatlantic populism? I hope so. ”
But Americans aren’t quite sure that Trump’s reign is definitely over. The majority wants Trump to leave. But he won’t. Not after two impeachments, not after allegedly leading a failed coup attempt, not after an election that he certainly lost but still insists he won.
Although it wasn’t easy and they waited too long, British Conservative leaders faced an easier time opening up their boss than American Republicans. In Britain, they stood by him and mostly condoned Johnson’s violations. In the US, countless elected Republicans have done more than tolerate Trump’s lies. They embraced them, raised them, destined their destiny to lies and liars.
However, last week’s events in London show an opening, allowing a glimmer of hope that those who promoted, defended or quietly allowed Trump would someday decide that they, had been reached. which is also their limit. And enough of them will say it out loud to force the most democratic players to leave the stage and continue healing in a divided and weary country-and its deeply destroyed democracy.