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The Tragicomedy of Boris Johnson Enters Its Final Act

The British prime minister’s tale features plot twists worthy of the Bard.

Johnson leaving the Houses of Parliament on Jan. 12.

Johnson leaving the Houses of Parliament on Jan. 12.

Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Boris Johnson has written more than a half-dozen books, including one comparing ancient Rome with the European Union that he famously stiffed and another about Winston Churchill, the ne plus ultra of U.K. leaders. But the project the British prime minister now has on his desk—a biography of William Shakespeare—offers a better fit for his current situation.

Whether the vaulting ambition of Macbeth, the roguish charisma of Falstaff, or the soaring oratory of Mark Antony, plenty of parallels to Johnson appear in Shakespeare's flawed characters. Indeed, his rise and impending fall have elements of tragicomedy worthy of the Bard himself.