Submitted by Douglas Carswell 

“Big government Boris seemed to forget that,” writes MCPP’s CEO Carswell.

Just a couple of years ago, Boris Johnson won a landslide election, giving the British Conservatives their largest majority since Margaret Thatcher.  Today, he’s on the way out.  What went wrong?

If you only rely on the mainstream media, you would be forgiven for thinking that Boris was brought down by scandals involving an office party and some cake.  There was also, of course, his rather unwise appointment of someone clearly unsuitable to be the deputy Chief Whip.

But was that really what lead to the removal of the most electorally successful British Conservative leader in a generation?

Boris’ real problem was that after accomplishing Brexit, he managed to get almost all of the big judgement calls wrong.

  • Energy insanity:  Bizarrely, Boris signed Britain up to almost every kind of green energy lunacy.  He banned fracking, and imposed all kinds of renewable targets on energy producers and households.  Not only have energy prices soared, rising energy costs have created a cost of living crisis.  Living standards are falling for the first time in half a century.
  • Taxation:  Britain now has the highest tax burden since the 1950s.  Boris raised taxes more than any left wing government in Britain managed to do since the second World War.
  • Aggressive lockdowns:  Covid was a challenge for leaders everywhere, but Boris’ government locked down hard and often.  Laws were passed that made it a criminal offense to be outside one’s own home and families were prosecuted for going into their gardens / yards.  You can’t lock down for two years, and pay for people to sit at home, and not expect the country to become poorer.  Even today, long after lockdown, the disruptive effect of shutting down has left Britain’s airports, hospitals and public services dysfunctional.
  • Too much regulation:  Having secured Brexit, Boris seemed reluctant to take advantage of it.  No longer in the highly regulated European Union, there is no shortage of red tape to be eliminated.  Several years after leaving the EU, the regulations are still there.  Britain still imposes EU-type tariffs on goods that we don’t even make.

Ronald Reagan famously used to say that you should “dance with the one that brung ya.”  What he meant is that in politics, as in life, you should support those who got you to where you are.  Big government Boris seemed to forget that.

Boris’ downfall is more than a sad story of conservative failure across the pond.  It shows what happens when leaders promise conservative government, but govern left.

Here in Mississippi, we have had a conservative super majority for about a decade.  What is there to show for it?

To be fair, income taxes have been cut.  A universal occupational licensing law has been passed.  A Critical Race theory law has come into effect.  We thankfully avoided the kind of draconian lockdowns we saw elsewhere.  Oh, and the flag got changed.

There is still much more that conservatives with a super majority ought to try to accomplish.

The tax burden could be cut to make us competitive compared to Tennessee and Texas.  Instead of expanding the size of the state bureaucracy, we could cut it by shutting down many of those boards and commissions that clutter up downtown Jackson.

Our state is overly dependent on federal handouts.  Rather than stimulating growth through cosy deals with big corporations, we need low taxes and light regulation to allow us to generate wealth.  If West Virginia and Arizona can introduce school choice, why can’t we?

Boris shows what happens to even the most electorally successful conservatives when they lose touch with their principles and people.

Don’t forget to dance with the folk that brung ya.


Submitted by Douglas Carswell. He is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, and was previously a Member of the British Parliament.