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The Pathologies of Long Boris

The UK needs a government that is pragmatic, internationalist, responsible, and capable of delivering some semblance of stability and certainty at a time of upheaval. But it is difficult to imagine how such a government could emerge from the escalating dogmatic delinquency now underway.

LONDON – We know that people who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 may suffer from symptoms that last for weeks or months after the infection has passed. Similarly, the fall of disgraced British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the election of his successor by the Conservative Party in the coming weeks, will likely have serious lingering effects. Call it Long Boris.

The United Kingdom is already dealing with “Long Brexit” – the corrosive long-term effects of Britain’s departure from the European Union on both the economy and the language and conduct of our politics. Now, this illness is being compounded by the corrupting and debilitating impact of Johnson’s premiership on British politics and government.

Johnson had no respect for the standards of governance, the integrity of institutions, or the crucial importance of making rational choices between often incompatible public-policy objectives. His legacy of populist mendacity cannot be buried by the naming of a new Conservative Party leader. On the contrary, Long Boris is shaping – and distorting – the election process.

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