Looking across the Atlantic this morning, Boris Johnson must be one happy man. The expectation that his role model, Donald Trump, would be brought to heel by the American electorate has proved ill-founded. More Americans voted for Trump in 2020 than did in 2016.
So now Boris Johnson knows that
- You can have an absurdly-styled blond head of hair and that won’t stop you making progress with the electorate. It may even strengthen your position.
- You can have affairs with a number of women and nobody will bat an eye-lid, even if some of those women are hostile to you.
- You can sign up to international agreements – in Trump’s case, Paris Climate Accord, in Johnson’s case the Irish Protocol – and then ditch them, and guess what – your electorate will still applaud you.
- You can make disgusting comment on people of a different race from you – in Trump’s case, the hordes of people originally from “shit-hole countries” against whom you can build a wall, in Johnson’s case children who are best described as “picaninnies” with “water-melon smiles”.
- You can lie and lie and lie again, and people won’t mind. Trump’s most recent is that he has won the US general election, Johnson’s that the virus crisis would be over by Christmas. But that’s OK, because “ ‘What is truth? said jesting Pilate/And would not stay for an answer.’ ”
- You can act illegally and people will accept it. In Johnson’s case, you can sign up to an international agreement that goods coming into the North of Ireland will be checked and then ignore it. In Trump’s case, in 2016 he boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and people would still vote for him. Now he knows that he can make decisions that result in some 220,000 people dying and he’s been given an even stronger mandate.
We are headed into dark times on both sides of the Atlantic. Buckle your safety belt.