As the tory leadership election hobbled on, the London Evening Standard hoped that Boris Johnson would prove a “big-hearted, optimistic, liberal” leader. They expected that as prime minister he would reassure millions of socially liberal voters who backed Remain. Yet in his nearly two months in Downing Street, the liberal Mr Johnson has been absent. His authoritarian alter-ego has stolen the show by suspending Parliament, ditching plans to abandon short prison sentences and delivering a speech in front of a phalanx of uniformed coppers. When he droned on for so long that one of them fainted, he didn’t look terribly big-hearted either.
This week the liberal returned—at least for a day. On September 11th he announced that foreign students will be allowed to stay in Britain for two years after their degrees while working or looking for a job, rather than the current four months. It is the most significant sign yet that Mr Johnson’s government will abandon the hostile approach to immigration favoured by his predecessor, Theresa May.