LONDON – Boris Johnson, the clownish and freewheeling British Prime Minister, is about to host.
On June 11, the day after a private meeting with President Biden, Mr Johnson is expected to host other leaders of the Group of 7 in Cornwall, on the southwest coast of England, to discuss climate change, global recovery from pandemic and Liberal withdrawal. democracy in the world.
Yet Mr Johnson may have other things on his mind. In recent months, a series of scandals and allegations have put the Prime Minister under unusual pressure. There were accusations of corruption, reports of bitter rivalry over his closest team and, to top it all off, explosive testimony from his former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, who assigned responsibility for the management of the pandemic in Britain – where more than 125,000 people have died from Covid-19 – squarely at Mr Johnson’s doorstep. Story by story, scandal by scandal, Mr Johnson has been exposed as a sloppy, venal and incompetent leader.
But that doesn’t seem to matter. The Tories, despite the controversy, still comfortably lead the polls – and even managed to defeat the opposition Labor Party in a recent by-election, claiming the northeastern constituency of Hartlepool for the first time. And Mr Johnson, for all the outrage and acrimony, can greet his fellow world leaders in a spirit of triumph. With good approval ratings and at the head of a party with 80 majority seats, his power is assured.
Considering Mr Johnson’s inability to perform his duties, highlighted by Mr Cummings’ testimony, this is quite remarkable. Speaking in Parliament for more than seven hours on May 26, Mr Cummings, who staged Mr Johnson’s election victory in December 2019 – but was ousted from his role as chief adviser a year later – a ripped apart the government’s catastrophic mismanagement of the pandemic, gutted the prime minister’s character and declared him “unfit for work”.