John Harris

Journalist & Author

Racists think England is theirs. It’s time to show them it is not | John Harris

We don’t have to accept an archaic, hateful vision of our country. Let’s build on the diverse, multiracial place it actually is

In his first speech as prime minister in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson said that securing Brexit was a way of “uniting and re-energising our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on Earth”. A few months later, he addressed the Conservative conference, and told his audience that the UK was “the most successful political partnership in history”, which he would “defend against those who would wantonly destroy it”.

All modern prime ministers have gone in for this stuff: Tony Blair, for example, once claimed that “The British are special. The world knows it. In our hearts we know it.” But jingoistic, exceptionalist bluster sits particularly close to the heart of this PM: it’s a prop he can reach for when he feels the stifling restrictions of detail, seen in everything from the ocean of cant he brought to the 2016 Brexit campaign to his strange claim that his government’s test and trace system would be not just dependable, but somehow “world beating”.

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