By Anna Noble
As coronavirus rages on, the only thing which might be over by Christmas is Boris’s chances of salvaging his career.
An “out of control” mutation, eleventh-hour lockdowns, closed borders and potential food shortages. Christmas is in chaos. With foreign media dubbing the UK “plague island” this may be Boris Johnson’s worst week and people know it.
This may be Boris Johnson’s worst week and people know it
The government’s plan to ‘save’ Christmas, has faced fierce backlash claiming, “institutional racism”. There was no plan to save Hanukkah nor Diwali. The government even plunged predominantly Muslim areas into lockdown, just hours before Eid. To ask other religions to sacrifice their celebrations, whilst putting the whole country in jeopardy of a severe third wave in order to ‘save’ Christmas, was irresponsible at best. With less than a week to go, the government’s U-turn was largely inevitable. Yet waiting until people had made financial commitments towards meeting family at Christmas was callous and chaotic.
Just last week Boris assured the population that plans would not change, even denouncing Kier Starmer at PMQ’s for wanting to “cancel Christmas”. In doing so he set himself up for further claims of incompetence and a significant backlash. In mere days, London and the South-East went from relative freedom to the toughest restrictions, barred from even participating in the new Christmas rules allowing households to mix only for Christmas day.
The new coronavirus restrictions are necessary
The new coronavirus restrictions are necessary. The new mutant strain of coronavirus is 70% more infectious and whilst there is little evidence to suggest that vaccines will not work against it, this is not certain. The mutated virus was first picked up in September, although the government has denied that they knew how infectious the mutation is, until more recently. However, scientists have warned of mutations and the dangers of mixing over Christmas for months. The government wanted to be the government that ‘saved’ Christmas making a promise they inevitably could not keep.
The government would have been better served by adopting the Dutch government’s wait and see approach to Christmas. This would have prevented families from making financial commitments having been assured that Christmas will not be cancelled.
The change in Christmas rules has only been one element of the government’s disastrous week. After Matt Hancock appeared on TV to say that the coronavirus mutation was “out of control”, other governments reacted quickly closing borders. At the time of writing 50 countries have banned travel from the UK, including France. This has caused chaos in terms of freight trucks being prevented from leaving or entering. It took 48 hours for an agreement to be made allowing hauliers with negative covid-19 tests to enter. This begs the question, why were there not contingency plans already in place to ensure that crucial freight was not disrupted if France or the UK shuts their borders?
Boris’s key flaw throughout the entire pandemic is over-promising
Criticism is mounting towards Boris Johnson, at home and abroad. The worlds media has attacked Boris for placing optimism over hard facts. Internal polling within the UK is equally dire for Boris. A ConservativeHome survey found that he had just a 2.9% approval rating amongst Tory activists and a YouGov poll released after the new restrictions were announced, found that 61% of people felt the government was handling the pandemic badly. Boris’s key flaw throughout the entire pandemic is over-promising. He promised no second lockdown, a “world-beating” track and trace system and back in July a ‘normal’ Christmas. Instead, Britain has one of the highest death rates, one of the worst economic downturns, and UNICEF are having to feed British children.
With backlash mounting, the government is losing political capital fast. Reducing the UK in the eyes of the world, to an ill governed “plague island” may well be the final nail in a very secure coffin.
At this point it may be more surprising if Boris is still PM next Christmas.
Image by zaimoku_woodpile via Creative Commons