Finn McRedmond: Johnson pulls up drawbridge on immigration

Efforts to cast himself as a liberal Conservative now sullied beyond repair

UK prime minister Boris Johnson. ‘We shouldn’t forget that this so-called most liberal Conservative is also the prime minister who – during his tenure as mayor of London – purchased water cannon to spray protestors off the streets.’ Photograph: Jeremy Selwyn/AFP

UK prime minister Boris Johnson. ‘We shouldn’t forget that this so-called most liberal Conservative is also the prime minister who – during his tenure as mayor of London – purchased water cannon to spray protestors off the streets.’ Photograph: Jeremy Selwyn/AFP

Tale as old as time: politician claims one thing, does the opposite. Boris Johnson was clear – in speeches given while foreign secretary and prime minister – that the completion of Brexit would mark a new dawn for a “truly global Britain”.

But there has long been a tension between his words and actions – and the latest chapter in the Johnson story is no different. Wednesday saw the announcement of the Tories’ new points-based immigration system, and with it the demolition of the bold claims Johnson has made about the UK’s new global trajectory. Also sullied beyond repair are Johnson’s repeated attempts to cast himself as a liberal Conservative of the revered ‘One Nation’ tradition.

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