【高階限免】After the fall: the legacy of Boris Johnson

Britain』s next Conservative prime minister will operate in a landscape defined by a uniquely polarising leader | 英國下一任保守黨首相將在一個獨特的兩極分化領導人所定義的環境中工作。

There were moist eyes around the cabinet table on Thursday as Boris Johnson began his long goodbye from British politics. “There were a few of them wiping away tears,” says one member of Johnson’s hastily assembled team. “Pathetic really. I wasn’t crying.”
週四,當鮑里斯•強森(Boris Johnson)開始告別英國政壇時,內閣會議桌周圍的人都熱淚盈眶。「有幾個人在擦眼淚,」強森匆忙組建的團隊的一名成員說。「真的很可憐。我並沒有哭。」
Indeed beyond the loyalists clinging to the wreckage of Johnson’s broken government, there were few tears being shed among Conservative MPs after they drove out of office the man who led Britain out of the EU and who — according to his critics — dragged British politics into the mud.
After a series of scandals in which Johnson repeated the same dismal cycle of concealing the truth, retreating, then being found out, his party could take it no longer. “Enough is enough,” Sajid Javid told parliament the day after quitting as health secretary on Tuesday, a decision that triggered an avalanche of resignations which swept the prime minister away.
在一系列醜聞中,強森重複著掩蓋真相、退縮、然後被發現的悲慘循環,他的政黨再也無法忍受了。賽義德•賈維德(Sajid Javid)於週二辭去衛生部長一職,並在第二天向議會表示:「受夠了。」賈維德的這一決定引發了雪崩式的辭職,首相也因此下臺。
Johnson will remain in office, but not in power, until September, when the Conservative party elects a new leader to replace him. A lucrative career of speechmaking, journalism and book-writing lie ahead.
In some global capitals there was relief. Joe Biden, US president, could not bring himself to mention Johnson’s name in a statement on the “special relationship” after the UK prime minister announced his resignation as Tory leader.
Biden, who once called Johnson a “physical and emotional clone” of Donald Trump, was frustrated with the prime minister’s willingness to rip up his Brexit treaty with the EU — a decision, argue critics, that threatens to destabilise Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement.
拜登曾稱強森是唐納•川普(Donald Trump)的「身體和情感克隆」,他對首相撕毀他與歐盟的脫歐條約感到失望——批評者認爲,這一決定可能會破壞北愛爾蘭的耶穌受難日和平協議。
“I won’t miss him,” said Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister, on Friday, echoing similar sentiments across the EU. “It proves that Brexit mixed up with populism does not make for a good cocktail for a nation.”
法國財政部長布魯諾•勒梅爾(Bruno Le Maire)上週五表示:「我不會想念他。」歐盟各國也表達了類似的情緒。「這證明,英國脫歐和民粹主義混在一起,對一個國家來說不是一杯好雞尾酒。」
James Cleverly, the new education secretary and a Johnson loyalist, says the comparison with Trump clinging on to power is ludicrous. “We are not America,” he says. Yet some Conservative MPs did make the comparison, fearing Johnson could take Britain to a dark place.
強森的忠實支持者、新任教育大臣詹姆斯•克萊弗利(James Cleverly)表示,將其與川普緊握權力不放相提並論是荒謬的。「我們不是美國,」他說。然而,一些保守黨議員確實做了比較,他們擔心強森會把英國帶向黑暗。
The 58-year-old leader had jokingly compared his determination to cling to office to that of the Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda, who hid in the jungle for years and refused to accept Japan’s surrender after the second world war, but others did not see the funny side.
這位58歲的領導人曾開玩笑地將自己堅持執政的決心比作二戰後躲在叢林中多年、拒絕接受日本投降的日本軍人小野田寬郎(Hiroo Onoda),但其他人並不認爲這有什麼好笑的地方。
The UK prime minister had claimed he had a direct “mandate” from the British voters — MPs had to remind him that Britain is a parliamentary democracy, not a presidential system. Briefings by some of his allies that Tory MPs would have to “dip their hands in blood” to remove him evoked shudders.
In the end Johnson went quietly. There was no angry mob, just a small band of diehard loyalists applauding him in Downing Street as he announced his resignation. Johnson blamed everybody else for his misfortune — accepting no personal responsibility — then turned on his heels and disappeared behind the famous black door.
Most of the political obituaries agreed that Johnson, and his style of government, were unique in British politics. Indeed none of the contenders to replace him have anything like the flair, charisma or devilry that made him such a compelling leader.
But his departure raises questions about Johnson’s political legacy and whether — whoever inherits his crown — the next Conservative prime minister will be operating in a landscape defined by the leader known by allies as “Big Dog”.

Tax cuts vs public spending


Few doubt that Johnson will go down in British history as a highly consequential prime minister: the leader who spearheaded the campaign to rip Britain out of the EU in 2016 and then — against significant opposition — delivered on his promise to “get Brexit done”.
His 2019 general election victory delivered a Conservative majority of 80 — the biggest since the 1980s heyday of Margaret Thatcher — extending the party’s reach into constituencies that had never previously voted Tory.
他在2019年的大選中獲勝,使保守黨獲得了80票的多數席位,這是自瑪格麗特·撒切爾(Margaret Thatcher)上世紀80年代全盛時期以來最大的一次,使該黨的勢力範圍擴大到先前從未投票支援保守黨的選區。
“He demonstrated that there is an electoral market for Conservatives in former industrial seats in the north, midlands and north Wales that the party had almost given up on,” says David Lidington, former de facto deputy prime minister to Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.
「他證明,保守黨在北部、中部和北威爾士的前工業席位存在一個選舉市場,該黨幾乎放棄了這些席位,」強森前任德蕾莎·梅伊(Theresa May)事實上的副首相戴維•利丁頓(David Lidington)表示。
Although Johnson arguably had an easy task in defeating the unelectable leftwing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, his achievements will define the political landscape for his successor.
儘管強森在2019年擊敗不可能當選的左翼工黨領袖傑里米·科爾賓(Jeremy Corbyn)可以說是一件輕而易舉的事情,但他的成就將決定他的繼任者的政治前景。
Brexit was the issue that helped the Tories make headway in the so-called red wall constituencies in working class parts of the north of England — the Labour party’s traditional heartland — and it is now accepted by all mainstream UK parties that there is no way back for Britain, at least not for the foreseeable future, when it comes to EU membership.
Even Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, this week announced that if he wins the next election he will not try to take Britain back into the EU single market or customs union and there would be no return of freedom of movement.
就連工黨領袖基爾•斯塔默爵士(Sir Keir Starmer)本週也宣佈,如果他在下次選舉中獲勝,他將不會試圖讓英國重新回到歐盟單一市場或關稅聯盟,而且行動自由也將不復存在。
Starmer describes his approach as “making Brexit work” and that will be the task facing whichever Conservative politician succeeds Johnson as prime minister. Leaders in European capitals — and Biden in Washington — are hoping to see a more constructive approach.
Johnson has embedded Brexit — regarded as recently as 2015 by most mainstream politicians as a cranky obsession of Nigel Farage’s UK Independence party — as national policy, in spite of accumulating evidence of the economic damage it is causing.
儘管有越來越多的證據表明英國脫歐正在造成經濟損失,但強森還是將英國脫歐作爲國家政策。直至2015年,英國脫歐還被大多數主流政治家視爲奈傑爾·法拉奇(Nigel Farage)的英國獨立黨的一個古怪的執念。
Tory candidates for the leadership will have to talk tough on Europe, but some of the frontrunners — including former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat — are likely to seek better relations with Brussels, with a view to softening the economic harm of Brexit and resolving the Northern Ireland stand-off.
保守黨領導人候選人將不得不在歐洲問題上發表強硬言論,但一些領先者——包括前財政大臣裏希•蘇納克(Rishi Sunak)和外交事務委員會主席湯姆·圖根達特(Tom Tugendhat)——可能會尋求與布魯塞爾改善關係,以緩解英國退歐對經濟的傷害,並解決北愛爾蘭僵局。
Paul Goodman, former Tory MP and editor of the ConservativeHome website, says that rightwing leadership contenders could promise to complete the Brexit project by using newfound regulatory freedoms to deliver a “Singapore Brexit” — of low taxes and light regulation — while striking tough poses on the NI protocol.
前保守黨議員、保守黨之家(ConservativeHome)網站編輯保羅•古德曼(Paul Goodman)表示,右翼領導人競選人可以承諾,透過利用新獲得的監管自由,實現「新加坡式的脫歐」(即低稅收、寬鬆監管),同時對北愛協議擺出強硬姿態,從而完成脫歐計劃。
At the same time, Johnson’s success at using Brexit to open up the north of England to the Tories has created new economic facts on the ground for whoever becomes the next Conservative prime minister. First time Tory voters in 2019 are expecting to see some return on their political investment and many are still waiting.
The next Tory prime minister will need to hold on to working class northern towns — the seat of Wakefield was retaken by Labour at a by-election in June that spooked Conservative MPs — if they are to retain power after the next election, expected in 2024. That means maintaining high levels of public spending to achieve Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda.
This new political map poses a problem for wannabe leaders. To win the leadership, they have to woo a Tory electorate of around 100,000 party members who are often old, southern-based and well-off. But to hold on to national power they will have to appeal to those northern towns that Johnson promised so much to. Above all, Tory members and the Conservative-supporting parts of the media want tax cuts.
As chancellor, Sunak recognised the simple mathematical problem of delivering high public spending and lower taxes, especially at a time of high inflation and as the country counts the economic and personal cost of the coronavirus pandemic. He argued that lower taxes should be paid for by higher growth and spending cuts. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Johnson loyalist in parliament, claimed this week that Sunak’s willingness to put up taxes to balance the books made him a “much lamented socialist chancellor”.
作爲財政大臣,蘇納克認識到高公共支出和低稅收這一簡單的數學問題,尤其是在高通膨時期,在該國計算新冠疫情的經濟和個人成本之際。他認爲,低稅收應該由更高的成長和削減開支來支付。強森在議會中的忠實支持者雅各布•里斯-莫格(Jacob Rees-Mogg)本週聲稱,蘇納克願意透過增加稅收來平衡收支,這使他成爲「令人遺憾的社會主義財政大臣」。
Johnson was about to over-rule his chancellor by offering aggressive tax cuts, probably funded by borrowing, insisting this is the way to boost growth. But Sunak quit in protest, just minutes after Javid, fearing Johnson’s short-term survival strategy risked throwing petrol on the inflationary fire.
Goodman believes the economic debate in the Tory leadership will be between those, like Sunak, who favour tax cuts funded by spending cuts, and those who want tax cuts funded by borrowing.
A third Johnson legacy is likely to be an ongoing commitment to relatively high levels of defence spending. The prime minister’s decisive response to the Ukraine crisis, including immediately arming Kyiv, has earned him rare credit abroad. Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday called him “a hero”.
強森留下的第三個遺產可能是對相對較高水準的國防開支的持續承諾。首相對烏克蘭危機的果斷反應,包括立即向基輔提供武器,爲他在國外贏得了罕見的聲譽。週四,弗拉基米爾·澤倫斯基(Volodymyr Zelensky)稱他爲「英雄」。
Just days before his resignation Johnson urged Nato countries to honour their commitment to spend a minimum of 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence; Britain has long exceeded that target. Johnson has demonstrated that in a post-Brexit world, the UK can leverage its relative military heft to gain foreign policy advantage.

‘It’s never his fault’


In his resignation speech, Johnson said he was “proud” of his achievements, including delivering Brexit, rolling out an effective Covid-19 vaccine programme and standing up for Ukraine. But his domestic policy agenda — including economic policy — often seemed incoherent. His day-to-day management was shambolic.
“He will go down as a significant prime minister, but not seen as good for the country,” says Lidington. “He was never any good at actually governing.” Goodman compares Johnson to a “Turkish sultan or a Tudor monarch”, ruling by whim, constantly changing his mind, with no clear strategic direction.
「他將作爲一位重要的首相而被載入史冊,但不被視爲對國家有益,」利丁頓說。「他從來都不擅長真正的治理。」 古德曼把強森比作一個「土耳其蘇丹或都鐸王朝的君主」,靠一時興起來統治,不斷改變主意,沒有明確的戰略方向。
The departure of his controversial adviser Dominic Cummings in 2020 stripped Johnson of one of the few people in his inner circle to provide any strategic policy grip; crisis management was often the principal preoccupation of those in Downing Street in recent times.
2020年,他備受爭議的顧問多米尼克·卡明斯(Dominic Cummings)的離職,讓強森失去了核心圈子中爲數不多的能夠掌控戰略政策的人之一;最近一段時間,危機管理往往是唐寧街官員的主要關注點。
Johnson performed numerous “resets” of his Downing Street operation, but none of them corrected the fundamental flaw: the prime minister himself. Johnson, once sacked as a Times journalist for making up a quote, at times seemed to have only a passing acquaintance with the truth.
In the wake of the partygate affair, which saw Johnson attempting to cover up the existence of parties in Number 10 during Covid lockdowns, the prime minister insisted in May that “the entire senior management has changed”. Opposition Labour MPs laughed. At the time Johnson — who was fined for breaking the law over these parties — admitted that he would never undergo a “psychological transformation” and it was this crucial fact that ultimately led to his downfall this week. Tory MPs realised that he would never change.
The final scandal to topple Johnson centred on an incident last week in which a senior Conservative party politician — the deputy chief whip, Chris Pincher — drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club. Pincher resigned but Johnson faced questions about why he had appointed him in the first place.
推翻強森的最後一樁醜聞集中在上週發生的事件上:一名保守黨高級政客——保守黨副黨鞭克里斯•平徹(Chris Pincher)——在一傢俬人會員俱樂部醉酒後猥褻兩名男子。平徹辭職了,但是強森面臨著爲什麼他一開始會任命他的問題。
As with partygate, Johnson’s first instinct was to conceal the truth, telling his official spokesman and cabinet ministers to trot out the line that he was unaware of previous “specific allegations” that Pincher was involved in sexual misconduct.
It was not true and Johnson’s lies — predictably — were soon exposed. In a decisive intervention on Wednesday, the former top civil servant at the Foreign Office, Lord Simon McDonald, revealed that Pincher had been investigated after a similar incident in 2019 while he was a minister in the department. The complaint had been upheld and prime minister Johnson had been briefed, in person.
這不是真的,強森的謊言——可以預見——很快就被揭穿了。在週三的一次決定性干預中,前外交部高級公務員西蒙•麥克唐納勳爵(Lord Simon McDonald)透露,平徹在2019年擔任外交部大臣時曾發生過類似事件,之後他受到了調查。該申訴得到了支援,強森首相本人也得到了通報。
The revelation prompted an outpouring of Tory frustration and anger with the leader, and more than 50 government resignations. Javid said that ministers were fed up with being asked to lie on Johnson’s behalf, adding in a letter to the prime minister that “the values you represent reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately your country”.
Johnson retreated to his bunker, scorning efforts by once-loyal cabinet ministers on Wednesday night to persuade him to resign with some dignity. Instead the prime minister’s final hours with full executive authority were spent exacting revenge.
Michael Gove, who jointly led the Brexit campaign with Johnson in 2016, was sacked at 9pm for his alleged treachery after he privately advised the prime minister to quit. Gove, the levelling-up secretary, who had betrayed Johnson when he made his first bid for the Conservative party leadership in 2016, was branded “a snake” by the prime minister’s allies.
2016年與強森共同領導英國退歐運動的邁克爾•戈夫(Michael Gove),在私下建議首相辭職後,因涉嫌背叛,於晚上9點被解僱。正在逐步晉升的大臣戈夫在2016年首次競選保守黨領袖時背叛了強森,被首相的盟友稱爲「一條蛇」。
“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” says one friend of Johnson. “That was done out of pure pleasure — final revenge for what he did in 2016.”
By that stage Johnson was struggling to find people to fill the ever-increasing number of ministerial vacancies. He slept on the issue and at 6am on Thursday he began drafting his resignation speech.
He used it to blame Conservative MPs for making the “eccentric” decision to get rid of him, claiming he had been trampled underfoot by a “herd” of panicking colleagues. “He’s clearly very angry because it’s never his fault,” says one former cabinet minister.
Johnson’s resignation was greeted with huge relief among his colleagues. “Thank God,” said one cabinet minister, as the prime minister signalled the end of his turbulent three-year reign.
McDonald, ousted by Johnson from the Foreign Office for his supposedly anti-Brexit views in 2020, on Thursday evening tweeted a picture of a glorious summer sunset over the gothic towers of Westminster with the simple words: “It was a good day.”