John Harris

Journalist & Author

Boris Johnson is channelling a punk ethos to force through Brexit. It could work | John Harris

The prime minister’s taboo-busting, provocative approach has potential popular appeal

“How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics in the 20th century.”

Those words were written by the Labour hero Aneurin Bevan, seven years after the end of the second world war and a decade before the arrival of the Beatles, but their power endures. Indeed, the imminence of Brexit and the entry into Downing Street of yet another moneyed Old Etonian prompts much the same question, though Britain’s current circumstances demand that it should be slightly rephrased. So, let us turn to the Irish writer Fintan O’Toole’s book Heroic Failure, which updates Bevan’s point.

Related: Boris Johnson ‘turbo-charging’ no-deal Brexit plans, say ministers

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