Boris Johnson is about to realise you can’t have your cake and eat it.
Tough decisions on public health measures are needed in the coming months, does the PM have the spine to lead, and to get mutinous backbenchers in line? His track record says no.
The consequences of running Downing Street as a tin pot dictatorial regime, reluctant to consult parliament, its own party, or the opposition, while preferring to leak to friendly newspapers, are about to catch up to Boris Johnson.
Johnson hasn’t lead the country as we well know; there’s been no semblance of credible leadership, because Johnson can’t stand letting people down, so he’s sat on public health decisions until it was too late and condemned tens of thousands to needless deaths as a result.
One thing however has snuck under the radar beyond the Westminster Bubble: Johnson hasn’t lead his party either. When the PM has made decisions he hasn’t brought his party with him, and they’ve grumbled and briefed hostility off the record before accepting the measures with mumbles of “this is the last time”.
The problem now for Johnson is this really may prove to be “the last time”. Upwards of 70 Tory MPs are at risk of voting against the public health measures Johnson wants to put in place after lockdown, and for Christmas. There have been comments of “freedom isn’t just for Christmas” and the libertarian ranks of the party are increasingly resembling the cranks of the GOP (who now make up the overwhelming majority of the GOP by the way).
The ultimate humiliation could ensue for Johnson: having to rely on Labour votes to get continued tough measures over the line. That looks weak, it looks unstable, and it raises (rightfully) questions about leadership.
The public takes a harder line on lockdown than the government OR the opposition; they want lockdown over Christmas, something both parties have spoken against. That implies they really won’t be in a forgiving mood to libertarian Tories with their bizarre rants about “freedom”, which would have gone down like a Tory in Liverpool back during the Blitz which they so often idolise.
Crank Tory MPs won’t be hailed as heroes for putting a spanner in the functioning of government at such a perilous time. It is their right to vote down the measures, but it neither serves the country or their own careers, and would be a foolish and ideological thing to do. Fighting measures and pushing for instant reopening only condemns us to a THIRD national lockdown, something we must avoid at all costs.
The ramifications of treating your own party as a lowly priority during the era of Cummings are beginning to take affect. Critical errors have been made and it places Johnson is a dreadfully perilous position.
It’s all well and good attempting to reopen communications now, and it may not be too late, but Johnson has done us all a great disservice by leaving us with a government unable to control its own party on matters not of conscience, but of public health.