‘Britain Trump’ is riding high, thanks in part to a divided opposition. But unless his deeds match his words, it may not last

What is the difference between former US president Donald Trump and current British prime minister Boris Johnson? Both men are skilful practitioners of plutocratic populism, but “Britain Trump”, as the president himself called his British ally, might yet prove the more successful.

Trump was a super-spreader of this Anglo-Saxon variant of populism. He promised to help the poor but actually helped the rich. His actions were inseparable from the interests of his own businesses, party donors and a wider oligarchy. True, the US economy did well until the Covid pandemic hit, but there was no substantial economic or social “levelling up”. And then many, especially poorer, Americans died as a result of his culpable mishandling of the pandemic. Trump did not “deliver”, in the way that verb is generally used by commentators, and yet more than 70 million Americans still voted for him at the last election.

Related: Starmer accuses Johnson of ‘short-term gimmicks’ after Queen’s speech

Timothy Garton Ash is a Guardian columnist

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