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Britain’s Covid story is about sacrifice and selflessness. Boris Johnson can’t tell it | John Harris

The prime minister’s crumbling authority has created a vacuum, and the right is already filling it with dangerous narratives In June 2021, the American magazine the Atlantic ran a long and admiring profile of Boris Johnson. “To him,” wrote the author, “the point of politics – and life – is not to squabble over facts; it’s to offer people a story they can believe in.” Johnson himself made the same point, in rather more elegant language: “People live by narrative. Human beings are creatures of the imagination.” Back then, those words were intended to capture Johnson’s talent for an unorthodox kind of political communication, and explain his success. But in early 2022 they sound more like an encapsulation of the reasons for his inevitable demise. The simple tale of the people who made the rules arrogantly breaking them is now immeasurably more powerful than any of the narratives he offers in his defence. To say that people tell stories, moreover, is often to associate them with lies, and so it has proved. Johnson’s evasions and untruths now extend into the distance; what he repeatedly – and desperately – said about Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile is only the latest example. John Harris is a Guardian columnist Continue reading...
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