The US Republican President led tributes to the newly-appointed Prime Minister yesterday with a bizarre tweet suggesting Boris Johnson is popular in the UK because he’s seen as ‘Britain’s Trump’.
As most of the country collectively rolled its eyes at the pompous assertion others got to thinking.
Could we really have a Trump equivalent in Number 10? Has Britain fallen for the same populist scourge that has beset America? And are we really about to governed by the sort of nationalist intolerance that has become commonplace across the Atlantic.
Two governing forces
The unfortunate reality is that Johnson will be governed by two forces that will ultimately make the answer to those questions ‘yes’.
The first is that he has been voted in by Conservative members to deliver Brexit at all costs. He is at the mercy of the party’s core supporter base and must also answer to many of the influential elite that got him to where he is.
And the second is that if he decides to go to an election – which many believe he must – then he will be forced to drag the party to the right to see off Nigel Farage’s new force, taking a leaf out of Trump’s campaign book in doing so.
Feast on the divisions he helped sow
So despite talk of unity, “DUDE”, Boris has no desire to unite the country.
As Ian Birrell wrote here, he is responsible for “leading the country blindly into its current morass.
“His hazy plans for Brexit have spread such fear that the Pound has fallen again. Sensible cabinet ministers are queueing up to quit over being forced to back the disastrous idea of Britain leaving the European Union in three months’ time without a deal.”
Instead he will look to feast on the divisions he helped sow.
He will dub Leave politicians traitors, he will trumpet his threat of an exit without a deal and he will intentionally isolate the UK to appease those who have dined out on the sort of populist rhetoric that helped get him to power in the first place.
And tell me what is more Donald Trump-esque than that.
As Jo Swinson pointed out shortly after the President sent his congratulatory tweet, “Boris Johnson is basically what you’d get if you sent Donald Trump to Eton.”
Given what we know now, it’s hard to disagree.