The political landscape has shifted – but we aren't heading for the energised Britain promised by Boris Johnson
The centre ground is disappearing as politics has become polarised under the alienating influence of Brexit
Remember DUDE? When Boris Johnson ran for the Conservative leadership in the summer he promised to: Deliver Brexit; Unite the country and Defeat Jeremy Corbyn – before also adding he would Energise the nation. Johnson has made some progress, on his own terms, in turning his acronym into action, although the consequences for the country will be grievous. It is an extraordinary result that few predicted.
The whole landscape of British politics is shifting. The “red wall” is crumbling. For what we may well be witnessing is the Trumpification of British politics, and the conversion of the old Conservative coalition into a driven populist movement of no fixed principles and more than a hint of a cult of personality.
There can be no doubt now that the UK will formally leave the European Union next month. The prime minister has won his mandate, albeit under a questionable prospectus, and his personal authority and the parliamentary arithmetic means that he will get his withdrawal bill through parliament with some ease. But that is not getting Brexit done. It is only the end of the first phase. Mr Johnson can, if he wishes to, ignore the so-called Spartans in his own party when the time comes for him to reach a new economic and security agreement with the EU. That is one of the few causes for optimism. But it is equally likely that Mr Johnson will slap no deal back on the table, and insist on leaving the EU on the impossible deadline of 31 December 2020. We will in other words still be mired in Brexit chaos, and the economic damage that comes with it.