U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s condemnation of the U.S. president personally on Thursday morning marked a watershed moment for Boris Johnson’s government.
“His comments directly led to the violence,” Patel told the BBC, following Wednesday’s deadly riot at the Capitol Building. “So far he has failed to condemn that violence and that is completely wrong.”
Senior Conservatives had condemned the violence and professed support for American democracy — Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab praised the certification of the election result following the “shocking events” — but had stopped short of blaming the president. Johnson himself called the scenes “disgraceful” (but so far he hasn’t singled out Trump’s role in inciting them).
No more are we ever likely to hear Johnson or his ministers suggest — as they have in the past — that Trump is a politician from whom much could be learned. As recently as June 2018, while foreign secretary in Theresa May’s administration, Johnson told a private dinner he was “increasingly admiring” of Trump, that there was “method in his madness” and that it would be no bad thing if he took over the Brexit talks (Trump later endorsed Johnson’s Tory leadership bid). The previous year Johnson had told the U.S. ambassador of his view that Trump was indeed “making America great again.”