Andy Richardson: Johnson reaping consequences after stirring discord

The optics weren’t good. When Skills Minister Gillian Keegan was unable to explain new lockdown rules in the North East, you’d have thought Conservative HQ would be calling her batphone in a nano second.

Boris Johnson - ill equipped
Boris Johnson - ill equipped

But no. While she’d been sent into bat following a typically inept performance from Helen Whateley earlier in the week, her inability to explain rules created by her own Government was the least of her party’s worries.

Elsewhere, the guy in charge, a certain Mr Johnson, was also getting it wrong. Yeah, but no, but yeah, but no, but, errrrrm. Boris didn’t have a clue what rules were coming into force and the people who run his Twitter account had to 'fess up that he’d 'misspoke' – political speak for got it wrong.

The Conservatives may have a majority of 80, but confidence is dwindling fast. Serious times requires serious government. Ours is anything but.

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Panorama recently revealed that Germany are using doctors and medical students at testing centres, and track and trace has been hugely efficient. They have larger population and one fifth of our death rate. Perhaps the difference is that they have a scientist in charge while we have a man who made his name writing columns about bendy bananas.

Indeed, backbenchers are now said to hold the whip hand with a planned rebellion against Boris’s power-centric Government, which has effectively removed them from decision making and allowed the Cabinet to make decisions autonomously.

The 10pm curfew is proving to be an unmitigated disaster; another example of a Government not thinking things through. The hospitality industry is one of the most Covid-secure in the UK. It is responsible for just three per cent of infections, and contacts and procedures are closely monitored.

The curfew is damaging at-risk businesses and adding to the risk of transmission. It’s time to admit it hasn’t worked, does more harm than good and should be removed.

Boris sought to ferment discord with his populism during the Brexit debate. The very discord that he sowed is now making it hard for him to govern. He is ill equipped to fight back.

Still, Matt Hancock provided an insight into the new Government strategy – which, of course, we’d worked out a long time ago – telling the Commons the end game was a vaccine. If things continue as they are, there’ll be precious little of our economy left to protect.

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