Boris Johnson is not the reason that Britain left the European Union, but Brexit will not be the same without him. Others worked harder and longer for the cause. But no one expresses the spirit of the enterprise more completely than Johnson: the sugar-rush appeal to a diverse electorate; the absence of intellectual coherence; the fragility on contact with hard governing choices.
Much of the mythology of English Euroscepticism was written by Johnson as Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He was conjuring up meddlesome Brussels bureaucrats wielding straight bananas before “Brexit” was even a word.
In the referendum he was the word made flesh. His complacent optimism, in defiance of the seriousness of the question on the ballot paper, was Brexit incarnate. Johnson made kicking away a central pillar of UK economic and foreign policy seem risk-free, an adventure.
The 2019 general election completed a…
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