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Johnson’s tragic fate: to have taken the throne only to be robbed of all power

The prime minister got what he always wanted. Now, as the pandemic and its aftermath unfold, he is impotent to guide events

By Rafael Behr  

WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/PA Images

The way Britain’s constitution is set up, not much can get in the way of a prime minister in full command of parliament. The system was famously described as “elective dictatorship” by Lord Hailsham in the 1960s (although the term was not his original coinage). That power is now in Boris Johnson’s hands. What is he doing with it all?

The prime minister’s party is subserviently grateful for its 80-seat majority. Tory MPs elected last December in former Labour strongholds attribute their victories to the “Boris…

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