GIDEON RACHMAN: Boris Johnson has five years to show that he is a liberal
Many will continue to regard the newly elected UK prime minister’s claim to be a liberal as either patently insincere or delusional
Last summer, I had a thought-provoking conversation in Moscow with Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the journal Russia In Global Affairs. He mentioned that Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, had argued for a “liberal Brexit”, then laughed loudly. Viewed from Russia, the idea that Brexit is anything other than a savage blow to the liberal cause evidently seemed absurd.
The question of whether Johnson and the Brexiters can, in any way, claim to be “liberal” is of more than academic interest. As Lukyanov’s reaction suggested, it has international significance. The Brexit vote in 2016 saw liberal internationalism — championed by the EU and the Obama administration — take a double blow: first, the Brexit vote, followed shortly afterwards by the election of Donald Trump as US president.