Vaccine war is Johnson’s chance to rewrite the Brexit narrative

Even major historical events are judged on their outcomes, not on details or processes

British prime minister Boris Johnson carries doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for mobile distribution at Barnet FC’s ground in north London, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/Getty Images

British prime minister Boris Johnson carries doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for mobile distribution at Barnet FC’s ground in north London, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/Getty Images

There is a joke circulating on social media right now: “Anyone else tired of living through a major historical event?” Even without the pandemic it feels like a fitting statement for the past year, with the Black Lives Matter movement exploding over the summer; rioters storming the Capitol in Washington, goaded by a sitting president; and Brexit exposing the fragility of the union.

It raises the question of how these major events will be remembered by history, if they are remembered at all? Have we, by virtue of living through something, overburdened it with historical significance?

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