Almost simultaneously Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was ruled unlawful and Democrats in the US launched an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.
There are many in both the UK and the US who hope this might be the beginning of the end for the two kindred leaders. But even if it is, our countries’ problems go deeper, and will not be resolved immediately.
Boris Johnson has only been Prime Minister for two months, but in that time he’s provoked unprecedented uproar in Parliament and among large sections of the public. He’s been called a “tin-pot dictator” and likened to Trump. With widespread disapproval (albeit also with approval from others), Johnson has pushed to complete the mammoth task of Brexit as quickly as possible.
To this end, he suspended Parliament for five weeks from September to October to shorten the time MPs would have to introduce legislation that could block a no-deal Brexit.
The government’s own no-deal contingency document – known as Operation Yellowhammer – details medicine shortages, higher food prices and increased public disorder in a worst-case scenario. Brexit will inevitably cause disruption but the problems this nation faces go far beyond Brexit and far beyond Boris Johnson – after a decade of austerity and wage stagnation.
The same situation plagues the US. The people of the US have suffered the same stagnation for more than a decade and simply impeaching President Trump will not reverse the decline of America’s fortunes. It’s a process that began long before Trump and will require a completely different approach to change it.
The issues facing us are common throughout the Western world. The ‘gig economy’ has millions of us working on zero-hour contracts with miserable jobs for miserable pay and miserable hours, and it’s only getting worse. More than a million families in the UK have been forced to resort to food banks to feed themselves and their children.
The number of people made homeless has more than tripled in the last decade. Victorian-era diseases have returned. Suicide rates are skyrocketing; violent crime and drug addiction are crippling our cities. The safe jobs which allowed ordinary people to provide for their families are being shipped off to distant lands in the name of greater profits.
These are not signs of a healthy society. Wages have remained stagnant since 2008. Eleven years after the crash, and with a new recession on the horizon, it’s hard to say that we’ve recovered at all. The situation we’re in now is intolerable, and it didn’t start with Trump or Johnson. We need to fundamentally rethink how our economies function and how we manage our governments. Surface-level solutions like removing the individuals of Trump and Johnson won’t fix anything.