John Harris

Journalist & Author

Britain’s overgrown Eton schoolboys have turned the country into their playground | John Harris

The reckless disdain of Boris Johnson and David Cameron is evidence of the institutional elitism blighting our politics

Over the past fortnight, the news from Westminster has rather resembled a weird play about pre-revolutionary France, or Tsarist Russia circa 1916.

In some parts of the country, the rate of unemployment runs at 15%. Six million people are now reckoned to be on universal credit. I was in Birmingham this week, where I heard lots of talk about the impossibility of finding work, and local businesses hanging on by their fingernails. But every time I switched on the radio, I heard a twisted soap opera about money, taste (or the lack of it) and a prime minister who is reportedly having difficulty getting by on £150,000 a year. Boris Johnson’s alleged insistence that he was minded to “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” rather than impose another lockdown suggests a Bourbon or Romanov driven to exasperation by the necessity of difficult choices. There is something similarly monarchical about the swift binning of the £2.6m Downing Street briefing room – further proof, it seems, that austerity need only worry the plebs.

Related: Forget curtains and cash – Johnson’s legacy will be the bitter taste of Brexit | Polly Toynbee

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