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Why we should take Boris Johnson’s abuse of history seriously

From Queen Anne to our current prime minister, political misuses of history are nothing new—but still dangerous

By Rebecca Rideal  

Boris Johnson before signing copies of his book 'The Churchill Factor'. Photo: PA

“Are we going back to a time when a king claimed absolute authority? Is it going to be King Boris I versus the parliamentarians meeting in the fields?” asked Margaret Atwood during a recent radio interview. Atwood is far from alone in linking recent political events to Charles I and the constitutional crisis of the mid-seventeenth century. With the powerplay between the executive and parliament, the purging of MPs, deep political divides regarding sovereignty, and rhetoric…

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