Boris Johnson entered 2021 as a Brexit triumph. He promised the British covid vaccines and economic prosperity. And he enters the new year with a weakened leader who annoys many even in his own party. The end of the pandemic is not in sight, inflation and falling living standards have affected public sentiment. Even if the prime minister succeeds, he will have to work in a completely different economic climate.
The “omicron” is walking around Britain, hospital wards are filling up more and more. And sometimes it seems that the government is not paying attention to the pandemic.
In December, nearly one hundred Tory parliamentarians voted against mandatory masks and covid certification checks. Conservatives appeal to the British tradition of free thought. “We are not a society of bureaucrats, we are not Nazi Germany,” declar-ed Tory MP Markus Fisch.
In addition, a scandal erupted around the recently published footage from a party at the premier’s residence during the 2020 lockdown. Johnson sits in a garden on Downing Street surrounded by 16 guests, one of whom is former Prime Minister David Cameron. The company is eating che-ese with wine – and no one observes social distance.
“It’s just people at work talking about work,” Joh-nson explained to a photograph of a feast during the plague. He emphasized: we are not talking about a public event, therefore there w-ere no antique restrictions.
However, the prime minister often appeared in public without a mask. He himself had been ill with covid – but this did not save him from ironic pamphlets in the press. Moreover, Johns-on was never distinguished by modesty – which is only his renovation in the apartment, which attracted a lot of public attention.
“Contempt for collective welfare is a legacy of the cultural revolution launch-ed by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Reagan argued that the worst phrase from a politician’s mouth is:” I am from the government, and I came to help you. “And Thatcher denied public opinion.” , Says Bloomberg columnist Pankaj Mishra.
Johnson is trying to improve, talking about antiquated measures. But only after Christmas, in the coming year. Which can be dec-isive for a politician. Obser-vers are confident that Joh-nson took a holiday break to plan a strategy for 2022.
Good news for Peppa
The prime minister has something to think about. “Completely off the rails”, – they write about him in social networks.
In November, he gave a chaotic and incoherent speech to representatives of big business. Having lost the desired page in the printed text, I improvised.
“Raise your hands if you’ve been to Peppa Pig’s World. I love it, this is my place. It has very safe stre-ets, discipline in schools, a lot of emphasis on new public transportation systems,” Johnson phlegmatically recounted the theme park experience. Then he continued the conversation about economics: he imitated the sound of a running engine and compared himself with Moses, carrying the good news about a new environmental program.
The participants of the event, among whom were top managers of large corporations, called the speech absolutely a failure. And former Prime Minister David Cameron told The Telegraph that the current leader of Downing Street “gets away with what is forbidden to mere mortals.” True, he was referring to other examples of odious behavior.
Cameron, for example, did not like that the government hired three well-known commercial photographers to cover official visits. After all, such shooting is the business of the press, why spend money from the budget. The former prime minister was silent that he himself hired the same Andrew Parsons, who later took the famous pictures of Johnson with his dog Dileen in the Downing Street garden.
Cameron also recalled how in 2019 the current head of government hid from reporters in an industrial refrigerator. But again, he didn’t tell the whole story. Then Johnson arrived in Yorkshire in secret to personally bring food to an elderly couple, and only at that moment was he allowed to start shooting.
Bell on the leader
Secular scandals are only part of the problem. After all, many flamboyant politicians are weird at times. A far more troubling bell is the Tories’ defeat in a by-election in North Shropshire, which has always been their stronghold. After the December 17 vote, the Conservative Party lost control of the local parliament. This happened for the first time in almost two hundred years. The Liberal Democrats won by six thousand votes.
Journalists talk about voter fatigue from Johnson’s domestic politics. Liberals are triumphant. “Today, the inhabitants of North Shropshire spoke on behalf of the British people. They loudly and clearly said: ‘Boris Johnson, the party is over. The country is calling for leadership. Mr. Johnson, you are no longer a leader,” – summed up the election results, the Liberal Democratic candidate Helen Morgan. But we are talking about only one of the 650 seats in the British parliament. Voted outside the regular electoral cycle because the current Tory parliamentarian resigned. It turned out that he was a lobbyist for a private business, and this is not allowed to members of the chamber.
Johnson did not remain silent. He said that he understands the disappointment of the voters: “Of course, I take personal responsibility.”
The next national elections are in 2024. But 62 percent of Britons think Johnson is unlikely to retain his seat even until the end of 2022. This is what the December survey of the Ipsos MORI bureau showed. Following statistics were collected by the Sunday Times newspaper, talking with 25 thousand respondents. The bill is again not in Johnson’s favor: in an early election, Labor will receive 40 percent of the vote, and the Tories – 32. However, judging by the Ipsos Mori charts, the ratings of almost all previous prime ministers, starting with Margaret Thatcher, fell even lower – and did not always lead to resignation.
Critically bad for the government
British political scientists believe that the future of Johnson’s premiership depends on the correct fulfillment of three tasks: controlling the pandemic, imp-roving living standards and accelerating economic growth. So far, the picture is the opposite: the market is falling, prices are rising. Sociologist James Frain, founder of Public First, believes that rising national insurance premiums (NICS) and rising energy prices could hit working-class voters hard. “When the issue of living standards dominates the agenda, it is critically bad for the government,” the researcher emphasizes. Indeed, life in the country is very expensive. Such a social policy began even before Johnson, but he will have to decide the issues. Or another person who can do it.
“Prices for rented housing are very high. And mortgage policy is extremely unprofitable for people from abroad. That is, buying housing is super expensive. Very few banks approve of mortgages. name), who moved with her husband from Moscow to Bath two years ago.
“Yes, medicine, for ex-ample, is free,” she continues. “But people do not receive timely help. The doctor may say: I need to consult a pharmacist. We wait for the pharmacist for a week. He finally answers. Then we wait for the therapist for another week. As a result, he says: I’m not entirely sure, I need to consult a third colleague. And so on. “
Alina had difficulties in finding a pediatrician: the child was not prescribed the necessary hypoallergenic mixture for a long time. “A person can be sick, but there is no proper help. It began under Johnson, telemedicine and chats with doctors are actively promoted here. A very strange solution to the problem,” she notes.
Tories vs. Tories
In foreign policy – also without much success. Johnson is aware that his promise to “regain control of the UK’s borders” will be laughed at if hundreds of migrants continue to illegally cross the Channel from France. Another urgent document on Downing Street’s desk is the post-Brexit negotiations on Northern Ireland, which have become a stumbling block in UK trade with the EU. Johnson believes that the issue should be resolved by the end of February, before the elections to the Assembly of the Republic. If Sinn Fein gets the majority of the votes in it, it will chill Belfast’s relationship with London.
However, having lost in Europe, the Tories can catch up in Asia. Back in 2-020, Johnson gave a pathetic speech in Greenwich in which he compared the post-Brexit kingdom to “Superman conquering the world.” Then, under the slogan “Global Britain”, the government entered into a series of free trade deals with the countries of Australasia. Johnson has a lot of charisma. But he has pretty strong competitors. Foreign Minister Liz Truss is called the main contender: she is in charge of negotiations after Brexit and is inclined to conduct business, judging by the previous political baggage, quite tough. The second candidate is Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the State Treasury. Both are quite aware of their chances.
“However, Johnson is an experienced politician. He gained significant prestige both in the party and in society when he carried out the Brexit operation. But whoever is in power now, any decision related to covid restrictions will cause a backlash,” says a professor at the Faculty of International relations of St. Petersburg State University Natalya Eremina. – Some of the conservatives will consider this a violation of human rights, while some of the Laborites will criticize, stressing the lack of measures of struggle. “
In her opinion, the British prime minister is now a convenient target for criticism. At the same time, there are few daredevils who are ready to take on the authority and all responsibility. There is no wiggle room. Therefore, concludes Eremina, Johnson will hold on.