Here it’s worth quickly examining Brexit. Whether or not he’s correct, Johnson believes Brexit is necessary for the U.K. to become a more dynamic free market and international economy. He wants Britain to pursue more free-trade deals, not fewer, and to lower tariffs, rather than impose new ones. This might not be the effect of Brexit, nor even, some would argue, the intention of its supporters, but it’s the intention of its political masters—and certainly Johnson. Corbyn, in contrast, is a skeptic of all free trade, whether with Europe or the U.S. At heart, Trump is a mercantilist who believes in tariffs (“I love tariffs”) and their effectiveness as an instrument of American power in pursuit of more advantageous trade agreements. Johnson is a Reaganite. In this philosophical battle, Corbyn is much closer to Trumpian protectionism.
Dig deeper, beyond the Trump and Corbyn policy platforms, and what are the two men’s instincts? Trump, his critics allege, is instinctively authoritarian, uncomfortable with dissent and the messy compromises of governing in a democratic system with partially autonomous bureaucracies often vying for control. Like Corbyn, he derives his power from the masses, not through institutions with checks and balances moderating the changes he wants to make, frustrating his program and limiting its scope. To Trump this is the “deep state” corruptly circumventing the will of the people, not good governance. The Trump instinct is authoritarian in nature, if not in practice.
Speak to anyone close to Corbyn, and their concerns in this regard are strikingly similar. Corbyn is not a representative democrat by inclination—his power, like Trump’s, comes from the people that he feels, rightly or wrongly, have been disenfranchised by the system he wants to overhaul. Corbyn and Trump are anti-insiders—and that’s part of the reason they are so loathed in Washington and Westminster, and have such vociferous support in their countries: They cannot be co-opted, because the source of their power comes from without, not within.