Talk of Boris Johnson being in the declining days of his premiership is not only premature, but fundamentally flawed.
Like him or loathe him, and I admit our Prime Minister is political Marmite, the fact is that he has demonstrated over many years an incredible capacity to bounce back from crises that would be the end of lesser political mortals.
The departure of Dominic Cummings from Downing Street was not the beginning of the end, though to precis one of Boris Johnson’s own heroes, it was perhaps the end of the beginning. When advisors become the story, and Cummings always was going to be the target of the envy of the sneering Westminster media elite, then sooner or later they have to go. What it doesn’t mean is that Johnson won’t continue to have access to a wide pool of talent and expertise upon which to draw in honing populist policies.
The talk of the Conservatives abandoning their newly won Blue Wall seats is frankly ludicrous. It won’t happen. Why would the party throw away the coalition that gave victory to the vote leave camp in the referendum and to the Tories at the general election less than a year ago? And as Robert Halfon has recently pointed out, the South East, with its deprived coastal towns, lower educational attainment in the Southern New Towns, stuttering economies in its inner cities and rural cold-spots, needs the same political lurve as the Northern battlegrounds.
We will see a raft of new policies in the near future, from the green industrial revolution to transport investment, from economic stimulus to reforms of taxation, and Rishi Sunak’s coming one-year Spending Review will lay the foundations for innovative developments a year later to make Britain fighting fit for the post-Brexit environment. We’ll see more yet on housing policy and lower taxes for the lower paid. There will be a cabinet reshuffle in the New Year to bring in fresh talent and fresh faces, and Ministers at all levels will be cut loose to identify, adopt and drive forward a range of policies to stimulate the economy, reform our creaking education system and give hope to the covid-generation of pupils and students. And Boris’s frank words about devolution have finally admitted that the Emperor of Scottish Nationalism has no clothes. He merely says it as it is.
Yes, Boris could walk away from all that in February, but with his mojo returned, an invigorated team around him, Carrie Symonds at his back, lock-downers home for Christmas, the economy growing, trade agreements in the bag and a vaccine on the way, it’s hardly likely.
by Chris Whitehouse, Chairman