Boris Johnson rose to the head of British politics at the end of July after Theresa May stepped down as prime minister. He ran almost solely on a platform of delivering Brexit under any circumstances; one way or another, he said, the United Kingdom would be leaving the European Union.
Johnson has been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump in the past as they are both conservative populists and neither man backs down without a fight or conforms to political standards.
Britain, however, is in a predicament which has the potential to influence the world long after both of these men leave office.
After a contentious vote in 2016, a very slight majority of the British people voted to leave the EU. Johnson had been a strong contender of the Vote Leave campaign, so it was no surprise when he decided to run for prime minister after Theresa May failed to gain support for her own withdrawal plan.
It was to be expected that Johnson would be an unconventional leader, but few had envisioned the chaos which has since ensued.
When Johnson abruptly called for the suspension of Parliament, his desperation for political victory became evident. He hoped the suspension would prevent opposition from blocking a no-deal Brexit, something many analysts predict would have terrible consequences for the U.K. and the entire world.
Once the Queen approved the suspension, it seemed a forgone conclusion that a no-deal Brexit would arrive. The EU would refuse to make significant changes from their original offer, and Parliament would continue to bicker until the clock struck midnight on Oct. 31. Johnson, in part due to his hardline approach, would achieve what he had been working towards for over three years.
Johnson’s luck took a turn, however, earlier this week when his Conservative Party lost a ruling majority. Multiple people have either rebelled or resigned from the prime minister’s government. After Johnson lost his first vote in Parliament, he was compelled to call for a snap general election.
Britain’s parliamentary system has historically allowed for impulsive decisions like this — although not always under the discretion of such an erratic figure — and one can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if Donald Trump had the ability to suspend or force votes in the U.S. Congress.
It is possible that only two weeks before the Brexit deadline, Johnson will be swept from power and the U.K. will continue to remain within the bloc. Britain has been much quicker to suggest a vote of no-confidence in Johnson’s government than Congress has been to call for Trump’s impeachment — although it should be noted that impeachment inquiries begin this week.
It does seem that unconventional and rule-bending politicians are currently dominating governments worldwide, but recent developments within the U.K. prove this trend may be altering.
Groups and individuals are placing checks on the influences of such politicians and Britain may be the first of many places where the full impacts of such developments are on display.
All things said, only time will tell if the U.K.’s situation foreshadows a major political upheaval throughout the rest of Europe and the world.