Word from Britain is that Boris Johnson has agreed to step down as Prime Minister as soon as his party finds a replacement. His party will have an election to pick his replacement in October. According to the news, the main reason he is resigning is that his party worries that his personal scandals will drag them down in the polls and risk their majority in Parliament. This is one of those stock answers that the news supplies when no one wants to use the right answer.
The right answer is that the plutocrats who control British politics never liked Johnson and they seized this chance to get rid of him. In many ways, Johnson is like Donald Trump in that he represented the unhappiness of the Tory voters, even though he never really sympathized with them. Trump rode popular discontent into the White House but was obsessed with gaining elite approval. Johnson rode a populist wave into power, but never seemed to understand any of it.
There are, of course, lots of different opinions on the two men, but the one thing everyone agrees upon is the best people hated them. The reason the best people hated them is they appeared to side with the rabble against their betters, which is the one unforgivable sin in this age. Just about any degenerate act can be forgiven, but if you go against the family, you will never be forgiven. Like Trump, Johnson never seemed to understand this for some reason.
Another parallel to Trump is that the British ruling elite now faces the same trouble as the American elite in that a replacement is not obvious. In 2020 the selectors in Washington settled on a bumbling old simpleton because the other options were terrifyingly incompetent. No matter how angry you may be at the orange dirt monster, the thought of Elizabeth Warren in charge is a bridge too far. Bernie Sanders was literally their next best option.
For the Brits, the options are only slightly less ridiculous and that is only because the Brits tend to like the ridiculous. According to the European press, the favorite to replace Johnson is a Hindu bugman named Rishi Sunak. His great accomplishment in life was marrying the daughter of a Hindu billionaire while at Stanford. His other big accomplishment was wrecking the British economy as Chancellor of the Excheque during the Covid panic. You cannot make this up.
The other option for the selectors is Jeremy Hunt, who is something like the British version of Mitt Romney. He is a blend of oleaginous mendacity and obsequious rumpswabbery that would make him an ideal Republican. He represents the fink-on-the-voters wing of the Tory Party. He also looks like a character from a Mr. Bean sketch that gives him something Rishi Sunak lacks, which is some connection to the country over which he wants to rule.
The third likely option is Liz Truss. She should be a favorite as she is in many ways the most representative of the modern political class. Truss is noisy, self-aggrandizing and as dumb as a goldfish. As Foreign Secretary she encouraged Brits to volunteer to be killed in the Ukraine. She confused the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea while making bizarre threats against the Russians, while in Moscow. The woman is the poster child for the modern professional woman in the managerial class.
Interestingly, two other options, both considered longshots at this point, are Sajid Javid, from Pakistan, and Nadhim Zahawi, from Iraq. That makes three of the top contenders who are clearly not British. Further, they represent the party that claims to represent the traditional British nation. One could argue that the traditional British nation is a polyglot mishmash of people from the empire, but it is unlikely that most Tory voters think of Mumbai or Lahore when they are feeling sentimental.
This is the problem of empire. For an empire to work, the people at the top must eventually reduce their own people to the same level as the conquered. Initially force and grandeur is enough to keep the subjects in line but over time that no longer works so the imperial leadership must incorporate the conquered. This means granting them the same status as their own people, which can only be done by reducing their own people in terms of their place in the empire.
This is why the Tories and the Republicans have come to be the great champions of diversity and multiculturalism. They are the conservatives, but in the imperial sense, not the national sense. They are defending the empire, which means they defend the system that raises up the various people absorbed into the empire at the expense of the core population of the empire. This is why Tories and Republicans are sure their opponents are the real racists.
The final parallel to the Trump phenomenon here is that Johnson will end up being an unheeded warning because the people who could hear it lack the ability to respond to it with anything but anger. Trump was a sign of disgust by the white population of the country toward the political class. Similarly, Brexit and the dynamics that it unleashed, leading to Johnson becoming PM, was a warning shot. The British people were unhappy with their political class.
The trouble is, there is no answer for this. Like America, the British political system is controlled by people who hold the core population in contempt. Even if they could get past that, their options within the political system are terrible. The system has become a weird carny act, selecting for increasingly ridiculous people. Replacing a gasbag like Trump with a dementia patient was not an upgrade. Replacing Johnson with a simpleton like Liz Truss will not make life better.
What Johnson and Trump will come to represent was the dead end for a political system that evolved to its logical conclusion. When politics became theater, the stage was soon filled with carny acts, rather than serious people. In easy times, picking between the bearded lady and the sword swallower was fine, but in difficult times, these are not acceptable choices. That is where the British elites find themselves now, left with nothing but bad choices among terrible actors.