The Nationalists’ Long Hangover

Boris Johnson shakes hands with Donald Trump during the annual NATO heads of government summit on December 4, 2019, in Watford, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A report is expected today on the ways in which former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson flouted the strict COVID rules his government had imposed on ordinary Britons.  

The findings were bad enough that Johnson, the zany liberal Tory mayor of London turned demi-Trump on the Thames, quit his seat in Parliament altogether amid the barking of critics from his own party. He had resigned the top spot in September, but said on Friday that he was leaving Westminster entirely to better fight the “witch hunt” being conducted against him, which he said was payback by elites for his implementation of Brexit.

While BoJo was awaiting his fate, another star of Britain’s populist, nationalist 2010s, Nicola Sturgeon, longtime leader of the Scottish National Party, was getting arrested as part of the investigation into what became some $750,000 worth of donations. Her husband has also been implicated in the probe into the missing money raised for a far-fetched plan for another referendum on Scottish independence, despite the failure of the effort nearly a decade ago. Like Johnson, she had stepped down before the consequences caught up with her. 

Like so many times before, the United Kingdom and the United States are playing our old game of political leapfrog. The “Third Way” Labourites and Bill Clinton’s New Democrats, George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” and David Cameron the “liberal conservative,” Scottish independence, Brexit, and Donald Trump’s “America First,” and now, their aftermaths.

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