Brexit and Covid have created the perfect moment for the politics of crackdown | John Harris

Brexit and Covid have created the perfect moment for the politics of crackdown | John Harris

We feel besieged and imperilled, and the Johnson government is seizing the chance to weaken our most fundamental liberties

If you were wondering when the widely predicted post-Brexit dystopia might move beyond the imaginings of TV scriptwriters and into the real world, we suddenly seem to be a lot of the way there. Supermarket shelves are either understocked or completely empty. The populist loudmouths who now try to make the political weather have been taking aim in the past week at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and its supposedly “woke” lifesavers.

Meanwhile, the Johnson government’s descent into whip-crack law enforcement continues apace. Last week’s announcement of a new “crime reduction plan” was centred around the permanent relaxation of restrictions on “suspicionless” (in other words, often arbitrary) stop and search, which had a clear performative aspect: ministers blithely batting away the fact that black people are a staggering 18 times more likely to be searched than white people under these specific powers, presumably to demonstrate a wretched kind of toughness. Johnson also launched plans for chain gangs dressed in hi-vis jackets.

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