The Beast of Brexit

The Editors

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A new edition of Boris Johnson: The Beast of Brexit is published today. The late Heathcote Williams composed his ‘study in depravity’ more than three years ago, when Johnson was still mayor of London: before the 2016 EU referendum, before Johnson’s careless talk condemned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to an Iranian jail cell, before the police were called to a domestic dispute at his girlfriend’s flat, before he said his hobby was making model buses out of old wine boxes, before he became prime minister. But Williams’s portrait is as true a likeness of its subject now as it was then.

Drawing on biographies by Sonia Purnell and Andrew Gimson, a great many newspaper articles, and Johnson’s own journalism and TV appearances, Williams assembles a blistering charge sheet: climate change denial, dishonesty, hypocrisy, incompetence, racism, violence, ‘remorseless self-promotion’, ‘a ruthless and often cruel ambition together with an elitism and a ferocious temper when challenged’.

Boris Johnson: The Beast of Brexit – A Study in Depravity by Heathcote Williams is available from the London Review Bookshop or online from the LRB Store.


  • 31 July 2019 at 2:50am
    Mike Keohane says:
    Yes it was inexcusable for the then Foreign Secretary to give the Iranian regime an excuse to double down on its fake story about the reasons for the incarceration of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - but the LRB should not be making out that Boris Johnson got her imprisoned in the first place. As I am sure the editors know, she was originally detained in 2016, on utterly spurious grounds, whilst back in the UK the Brexit referendum was in full swing and Boris J was still a backbencher wrapped up in that campaign. My understanding (admittedly only derived from online sources) is that no new charges against Nazanin have been raised as a result of the now PM's stupidity. So yes, get angry - but don't, please, in however small a way, align yourselves with the very distorters of truth who have perpetrated the crime against this woman and her family.