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Therese Raphael

Now We Know How Boris Johnson's Movie Ends

The Brexit deal makes Johnson the most consequential prime minister since Thatcher. History will judge him on how he uses his hard-won freedom.

They were only supposed to “blow the bloody doors off.”

They were only supposed to “blow the bloody doors off.”

Photographer: Chris Jackson/Chris Jackson Collection

Now we know how this movie ends. “Brexit means Brexit,” Theresa May declared in those electric but mystifying opening scenes after the referendum back in 2016. It wasn’t clear then or for a long while after what Brexit meant. Nearly five years and two prime ministerial resignations later, Boris Johnson has finally defined it.

Set against the perils of breaking up with no trade deal, having an agreement at all merits celebration. Apart from the economic costs and reputational damage, a no-deal exit would have put terrible strain on the already fraught union with Scotland and poisoned relations with the European Union — still Britain’s largest trading partner and the world’s largest single market.