Boris Johnson Is A New-age Populist

Following the Partygate” scandal, when Boris Johnson found himself under fire for breaching lockdown rules, he played his populist politics again to fight back his adversaries. After his rule-breaking booze parties triggered a far-reaching response of unbridled anger towards him and his government, it was the only card he knew how to play to assert himself as a competent leader on a global stage.

A Desperate Cry

In December 2019, when Boris Johnson secured his party the most considerable Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher’s in 1987, he arrived in parliament with an 80-seat majority to take Britain out of the European Union. Riding a wave of popular support, Boris Johnson, a populist leader, gave the majority what they wanted and closed the country off European influence. Although his rallying cry was “take back control,” so far, it has proved more complicated in reality than he expected.

Desperate to survive the Partygate scandal, Boris Johnson is returning to the familiar ground of populism. He is not afraid to use the right-wing fringe issues to get Tory supporters on his side. Boris Johnson threatened the BBC with defunding and sought the Royal Navy to stop refugees crossing the English Channel to appease his base. He may well be a clown who has turned the King’s palace into a circus, but the conservatives of all shades will probably stick with him as long as he keeps granting them their childish wishes. Although his critics denounce his brand of British Nationalism as troublesome in the long run, playing the populist is the only way out for him to weather all the political and personal scandals he is facing at the moment.

The New-era Trump

Boris Johnson’s erratic style of governance is not an aberration anymore, definitely not after Donald Trump. When Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, his outlandish style of governance transformed the scene of British Politics completely, and perhaps also permanently. In between India and the United States of America, the populist brand of Nationalism has become mainstream now from Britain to Brazil, where populist leaders are mirroring the actions of each other. With his boozing and partying, Boris Johnson shows the same irresponsibility of populist nationalist leaders elsewhere in the world.

Although Boris Johnson’s populist movement is not as noisy and divisive as his egomaniacal contemporaries, it is equally alarming and grave. Boris Johnson attempts to make up for his incompetence with a fake image of bravado, where his reckless rhetoric seems full of hubris and self-deceit.

Johnson’s Role in Britain’s Decline

As a typical populist leader, Boris Johnson may claim that Britain is gaining its lost pride and relevance under his leadership, but how much it has lost its traditional standing after Brexit is out there in the open. Under Boris Johnson, Britain as a global power has declined to a great degree, as its leader is seen to be living in the reality of his own making.

When Boris Johnson delivered the Brexit, he played an essential catalyst in weakening the associations of his country with its European partners. The old allies like France are distancing themselves from Britain, and the dream of United Ireland in a post-Brexit world is becoming a reality every day.

While SNP is growing dominant every day in Scotland, Sinn Féin is expected to become Ireland’s largest party in the May elections. With soaring energy prices and inflation, labour shortages, and illegal migrant immigration, the country’s mounting domestic and international pressure is palpable and apparent. With its nuclear arsenal, Britain may still count itself among the big boys of the classroom, but its waning economic and militaristic strength is an embarrassment to its imperial past. It now stands as a minor player in world politics, whose glory days passed a long time ago.

A Wounded Populist Is A Dangerous Populist

Boris Johnson may look pathetic, but he is desperate to put on a strongman show. Under fire at home and abroad, his maverick machoism may turn out to be more severe and threatening. If the world has learned anything from Donald Trump, it is the absurd length a populist figure will go to save his skin.

To save himself from further turmoil and his country from possible disintegration, Boris Johnson will not, as a sensible leader, rethink the strategy and policies of his conservative party. Instead, like a wounded populist, he would probably act the opposite, with more alarming slogans and stupid stunts. Like every other populist leader, Boris Johnson will invent a boogieman to shift focus away from his faults and blunders. He will make villains out of well-meaning critics and well-intentioned libertarians, and he will unleash the wrath of his mindless supporters on them.


How big a mark Boris Jonson has left on British politics remains to be seen. His populist influence on the Tories will be his legacy. His shadow of toxic populism will loom large on Downing Street, even if he won’t survive his scandals. He has changed the social expectations of British society about their leadership and governance.

Johnson has remoulded his conservative party in his image. Instead of distancing himself from populism, he is moving closer towards it, consequently bringing a new national transformation, where civil liberties will be squeezed and rights of citizens restricted. His megalomania will worsen, and Johnson will speed up the erosion of the political system.

Johnson is already assuming himself to become another Winston Churchill, and his ambition has led him to believe that his reign in power will last longer than Margaret Thatcher’s. His self-obsession has led him to become an unethical leader, who has lost his direction and authority, and who is willing to comprise his country’s prosperity and stature to satisfy his obsessive need for power and pleasure. How he is defiling his image will force him sooner and later to disappear from the political scene. Still, his successor is more likely to follow in his footsteps and take the Tory party to new heights of infectious Brexit populism.

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