Boris Johnson’s Summer of Discontent

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Boris Johnson delivering his “Levelling Up” Speech – Source: The Prime Minister’s Office

The popularity of Boris Johnson and his Government was boosted by the British people’s gratitude for the vaccine rollout, giving hope that some kind of normality and freedom could be restored. 

The British nation, having been imprisoned for months, appeared to suffer some kind of Stockholm syndrome, as the reasons for Britain having the worst lockdowns and highest Covid deaths were all thanks to the very poor decision making of Boris Johnson and his Government.

Since the Conservatives lost the Chesham and Amersham by election in the middle of June, the wheels have started to come off Mr Johnson’s popularity bandwagon. Tory MPs in many of the southern seats quickly woke up to the shock realisation that their seats were not safe anymore and they’ve decided that the wooing of the northern seats was to blame for this affront to their job security. Northern Tory MPs, impatient to see some meat on the bones of the levelling up pledges, convinced Boris Johnson to do a big splash speech on 15 July which exposed the reality that it’s all just hot air.

So within a month, both camps of Johnson’s MPs have become like the ugly sisters in Cinderella, a pair of insecure and jealous siblings, vying for a parent’s attention and generosity.

Added to that the Tory-made culture war over the English football team taking the knee against racism, ended with Boris Johnson and his Government being on the wrong side of history as our brave team succeeded in making us feel proud in the final of Euros as runners up.

And the promise that Boris Johnson gave to the nation of a “Freedom Day” has been marred with his failure to protect Britain from the Delta variant, ensuring soaring infections, hospitalisations and isolation chaos for businesses – businesses which are already suffering thanks to Brexit red tape and staff shortages.

The recent infection of Boris Johnson’s new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, brought the spotlight well and truly on the Prime Minister and his Chancellor, when Boris Johnson chose to try and bunk off incarceration by plucking a fib out of thin air that they had, by chance, been selected for a trial and didn’t need to isolate. At this juncture, Britain saw that not only did Boris Johnson not share the majority’s concerns on the risks of spreading Coronavirus, they also saw that he was elevating himself to one rule for himself and another for everyone else. The inevitable U-turn hasn’t poured cold water on this ugly boil on Johnson’s popularity which went on to burst when Sajid Javid wrote a thoroughly insulting and inflammatory tweet which implied that Britain has been “cowering” from Coronavirus.

The Brexit tensions with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the European Union continue to ensnare Boris Johnson’s plans for “Global Britain”. As trade with Europe continues to die, food shortages caused by Brexit making European HGV drivers and farm workers avoid Britain like the plague are now part of everyday life. The logjam assured by the conflict at the heart of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol means that we are caught in a Catch 22. All a direct consequence of Boris Johnson promising there would be no checks in the Irish Sea. Of course in order to get the trade deals with the Pacific region, divergence has to happen, which means checks in the Irish Sea are inevitable. Added to this divergence ensures imports of lower standards produce, which breaks his other manifesto pledge not to lower standards – despite the fact that around 8 or 9 out of 10 people don’t want lower food standards.

Threats to break the newly signed treaty with the European Union have enraged the new American President, Joe Biden, and the New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, both of whom have the power to end Global Britain dreams of a trade deal with USA and joining the CPTPP.

Polling this week confirms that this is Boris Johnson’s summer of discontent with significant changes for Boris Johnson with the latest YouGov poll showing the Tory Party’s lead plummet from 13 to 4. Tories have slid 6 points and are now on 38%; Labour has jumped three points to 34%; Liberal Democrats are up one point to 9% and Greens are up two points to 8%.

The latest Opinium Poll on approval ratings takes the latest numbers by region and shows the changes since their May 13th poll when the vaccine bounce peaked. In May Boris Johnson had a net positive rating in the Midlands of plus 29% which has now nosedived to minus 7% – that’s a slide of 36% in two months.

Things don’t get any easier for Johnson with the North having the second biggest change, followed by Scotland and the South.

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