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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

It’s shit or bust for Boris

Boris Johnson endured a torrid end to 2021. As polls show that the country is running out of patience with him as fast as his parliamentary colleagues, Frank McKenna suggests that the PMs only chance of survival is to keep the country open and not introduce any further restrictions in 2022.

PM will be toast if we lockdown again

Before Christmas Boris Johnson was having to put out more fires than a small-town fire brigade. He cackhandedly failed in his attempt to protect ‘Spartan’ Tory MP Owen Patterson, who had not so much broken parliamentary rules, but smashed them to smithereens. He then had to face what seemed to be an avalanche of allegations about a series of ‘work meetings, with cheeses, wine and family members in attendance’ within the confines of 10 Downing Street, whilst the rest of us were locked in, locked down, and having to decide which family members were important enough to attend family funerals. Wallpaper-gate returned too. And, perhaps most significantly from a political perspective, he suffered his biggest parliamentary rebellion when trying to introduce his Plan ‘B’ measures to deal with the latest COVID-misery that is omicron, with around 100 of his own backbenchers voting against him; and the Tories lost the by-election caused by Boris’ earlier mentioned cackhandedness in dealing with the Owen Patterson issue. An ultra-safe Conservative seat is now in the hands of the Liberal Democrats.

The Christmas break was as welcome to Boris as a weekend off from the football for an Evertonian, and during the holiday, as polls were published showing that Labour had taken a healthy lead, particularly in the Red Wall constituencies, he no doubt reflected on how he could get out of a hole that, in some part at least, he had helped to dig.

With a new haircut and a smarter presentation in terms of his attire, Boris Johnson seems to have concluded that the only way he gets through the toughest period of his premiership so far, quells the chatter of a leadership challenge, and lives to fight another day, is to resist any calls for further restrictions to handle the omicron variant. Unless there is an unexpected shift in the seriousness of the virus, and one that leads not simply to huge pressures on the NHS (which, let’s face it, we have every winter), and the country can, more or less operate as normal, then the chances are the PM not only survives, but starts to get some much-needed credit back into his account for his approach.

As was evident from Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, he is determined to create a narrative that suggests Labour wanted to lock the country up again in December and cancel Christmas. That Labour did no such thing is irrelevant to a guy who has never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

If he can pin negativity, pessimism, and an obsession with locking down on Labour, then the chances are, in the short-term, Johnson gets to fight another day. And it is only ever the short-term that our glorious leader ever really cares about. 

Downtown in Business