By casting his lot with Trump, the U.K. prime minister now looks like yesterday’s man. He is in for a rude awakening.
LONDON—The United States’ cultural dominance isn’t always benign. The election of Donald Trump told trashy politicians across the world that they could lie continuously, tear up conventions, smash up their countries, and—far from being punished by their electorates—they would win.
Shakespeare’s Richard III complains he must “clothe my naked villainy” and “seem a saint, when most I play the devil.” Trump taught leaders from Brazil to Hungary they no longer needed to pretend to be saintly. However basely they behaved, their base would applaud them. No one learned the lesson better than Britain’s Boris Johnson.
With Joe Biden on the path to victory, the British prime minister now looks like yesterday’s man. The spirit of the age has left him behind, and he seems a relic of a discredited past. This change in culture will matter more than any political change in formal Anglo-American relations.
Living in the U.K., it has been dispiriting to watch how quickly Trumpian tactics were accepted as normal. Johnson suspended Britain’s supposedly sovereign Parliament in an attempt to push Brexit through, threatened the independence of the judiciary, and said he would break international law by renouncing a treaty he signed with the European Union if he did not get his way. Trump said of Johnson in 2019, “They call him Britain’s Trump and people are saying that’s a good thing.”