Ross Clark Ross Clark

Why Boris’s critics might regret celebrating his downfall

Credit: Getty Images

Imagine a Tory prime minister who gave the liberal left almost everything that it wanted. Higher migration? Sure, let’s treble it. End austerity with more tax and spending? Sure, let’s pay the wages of 9 million people from the state’s purse, hand the NHS another £34 billion – and let’s jack up corporation tax to pay for it. Climate change? Let’s close down every gas-fired power station by 2035, ban fracking and lumber oil and gas companies with a windfall tax. Culture wars? Let’s make gay conversion therapy a crime.    

You might think that the liberal left would at least bring itself to show some gratitude, but apparently not. We already have had a Tory PM who has brought about all of the above. His name is Boris Johnson. 

But thanks? Come off it. To listen to the rage against him over the past couple of years, you would think he was the most evil figure ever to stalk the land. To many, he is preposterously cast as an English Donald Trump – a man from whose ideology he is far removed.

I say that Johnson gave the liberal left almost all it wanted for a reason. There is one issue, of course, on which he did not share their views: Brexit. His achievement in persuading the country to vote to leave the EU, in the eyes of many, will forever be a great dark stain on his record. The words of Labour MP Chris Bryant – who called Johnson a ‘scoundrel’ whom he hopes never to see in public life again – and SNP leader Humza Yousaf, who accused Johnson of ‘betraying’ Scotland, are typical of the extreme reaction the former PM generates.

He was never going to privatise anything significant. Criminal sanctions were never going to be made more severe. There was never going to be any hectoring about the good of marriage

Brexit Derangement Syndrome, which continues to conflict large sections of those in public life, has blinded them to the reality: that Johnson is on the left of the Conservative party.

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