The Conservatives, too, have grown scarier since 2017. Mr Johnson has ditched the Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May and struck a worse one, in effect lopping off Northern Ireland so that Britain can leave the European Union’s customs union. The public are so sick of the whole fiasco that his promise to “get Brexit done” wins votes. But he would do no such thing. After Britain had left the EU early next year, the hard work of negotiating a trade agreement would begin. Mr Johnson says he would do this by the end of 2020 or leave without one. No-deal is thus still on the table—and a real prospect, since getting a deal in less than a year looks hard. The best estimates suggest that leaving without a deal would make average incomes 8% lower than they would otherwise have been after ten years.
Brexit is not the only problem with Mr Johnson’s new-look Tories. He has purged moderates and accelerated the shift from an economically and socially liberal party into an economically interventionist and culturally conservative one. Angling for working-class, Leave-voting seats in the north, he has proposed extra state aid, buy-British government procurement and a sketchy tax-and-spending plan that does not add up. Also, he has absorbed the fatal lesson of the Brexit campaign: that there is no penalty for lying or breaking the rules. He promised not to suspend Parliament, then did; he promised not to extend the Brexit talks, then did. This chicanery corrodes trust in democracy. Like Mr Corbyn he has normalised prejudice, by displaying his own and failing to investigate it in his party (both men are thought racist by 30% of voters). For all these reasons this newspaper cannot support the Conservatives.