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Boris Johnson could learn a lot from Pitt the Younger

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Boris Johnson makes an unlikely Pitt the Younger, but the parallels between 236 years ago and today are striking. My holiday reading this year included William Hague’s brilliant biography of William Pitt, published in 2005.

The king, George III (this was before he went mad), dismissed the government of Lord North and Charles James Fox, who had the support of a majority of MPs, and appointed Pitt, aged 24, as first Lord of the Treasury at the end of 1783.

Pitt formed a government but could not get his legislation through parliament. He refused to ask for an election, fearing that it wouldn’t make much difference to the make-up of the House of Commons.

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Hague writes: “With the House of Commons now in a stalemate, Fox argued that the refusal of Pitt to leave office in defiance of the votes of the Commons would lead to ‘universal anarchy’. Pitt’s response was that ‘he considered himself as performing an act of necessary duty to his king and country, and so long as that continued to be the case he should persevere’.

“That Pitt would simply stay in office........

© Independent