Without Boris Johnson, Brexit would never have happened. Johnson’s personal brand swung the narrow win for Leave in 2016. Despite the hopes of critics who argue that “everything tainted by Johnson’s lies needs to be undone. That includes his Brexit”, this is unlikely to happen. Johnson has reshaped the Tory party by the force of his political personality and pushed it closer to the Faragist fringes, at least when it came to leaving the European Union. The damaging economic consequences of Brexit, hidden for two years by the Covid-19 crisis are now plain to see but, more damaging than the hit to exports and long-term growth “has been the intellectual corrosion of government required first to make such a deal, and then to continue to sell it to the public as a grand success”. The personal mendacity that led to Johnson’s downfall is ultimately a distraction from a much deeper-seated dishonesty with the public and has become a chronic condition for the British polity.
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