Opinion | Boris Johnson Is a Terrible Leader. It Doesn’t Matter.

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Opinion | Boris Johnson Is a Terrible Leader. It Doesn’t Matter.

LONDON — Boris Johnson, Britain’s freewheeling, clownish prime minister, is about to play host.

On June 11, the day after a private meeting with President Biden, Mr. Johnson is scheduled to welcome other Group of 7 leaders to Cornwall, on the southwestern coast of England, to discuss climate change, the global pandemic recovery and the retreat of liberal democracy around the world.

Yet Mr. Johnson may have other things on his mind. Over the past few months, a series of scandals and allegations has put the prime minister under unusual pressure. There have been accusations of corruption, reports of bitter rivalries on his closest team and, to top it off, explosive testimony from his former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, that laid responsibility for the handling of the pandemic in Britain — where over 125,000 people have died of Covid-19 — squarely at Mr. Johnson’s door. Story by story, scandal by scandal, Mr. Johnson has been exposed as a slapdash, venal, incompetent leader.

But it doesn’t seem to matter. The Conservatives, despite the controversy, are still comfortably ahead in the polls — and even managed to defeat the opposition Labour Party in a recent by-election, claiming the northeastern constituency of Hartlepool for the first time. And Mr. Johnson, for all the outrage and acrimony, can greet his fellow global leaders in a spirit of triumph. With healthy approval ratings and at the helm of a party boasting an 80-seat majority, his power is assured.

Given Mr. Johnson’s inaptitude for office, bracingly illuminated by Mr. Cummings’s testimony, that’s quite remarkable. Speaking to Parliament for over seven hours on May 26, Mr. Cummings, who masterminded Mr. Johnson’s election win in December 2019 — but who was ousted from his role as chief adviser a year later — tore into the government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, eviscerated the prime minister’s character and declared him “unfit for the job.”

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