The symbolism of the physical state of the Palace of Westminster, where Parliament meets, was almost too crude this week. Big Ben was sheathed in layers of scaffolding and black construction netting. Great sections of the old complex were barely visible under plastic sheets. Inside, corridors were cluttered with plywood and temporary construction barriers. It looked like the scene of a disaster, which it was. Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, six weeks ago, he has replaced the grim, grinding Brexit strategy of his predecessor, Theresa May, with something much more kinetic and reckless. The British public, Johnson believes, is sick of the country’s agonizing departure from the European Union and want it over with, deal or no deal. Hang the consequences. Come what may. Do or die. Done. Kaput. Johnson was a front-man for the 2016 campaign to leave the E.U., and his calculation is that, unless the government meets its twice-delayed deadline to withdraw from the bloc on October 31st, trust in Britain’s political class will fall away completely. Much darker forces, like Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, will fill the void.
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