Boris Johnson somehow looks set for an even worse week than the last one

Boris Johnson wearing a mask
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Following a series of scandals he allegedly brought upon himself. Boris Johnson is facing perhaps the most difficult week since the start of his premiership. As dissatisfaction on the Conservative backbenches has grown, he heads into the next few days against a backdrop of rebellion. Meanwhile, the threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus looms in the background – not to mention the rolling scandals linked to Christmas parties and questions of corruption.

As challenging as the week may prove for Johnson, however, others are noting that the real hard work will be – as ever – carried out by others.

Read on...

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Plan B

Johnson’s first big challenge comes on 14 December, as MPs are asked to approve the Plan B measures he has set out in a bid to stem the spread of Omicron. Already, more than 70 of his own MPs have signalled they either will, or are considering, opposing some of the plans.

Commenting on measures Johnson announced on 12 December, doctor Rachel Clarke argued that the government’s plans – much like in the early days of the pandemic – don’t go far enough:

Others questioned how seriously Johnson is taking the issue:

Coronavirus – Mon Dec 13, 2021
Boris Johnson watching others work (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

Tory anger

Anger on the Conservative backbenches mainly centres on the introduction of coronavirus (Covid-19) passes – where a person must prove their vaccination status or that they have had a negative test – for large venues. However, the bad blood comes as Tory MPs have been left burned by their leader in recent weeks.

The standards row over former MP Owen Paterson left a sour taste in the mouths of many, as they felt they had been asked – and most obliged – to back the government in a difficult position, only to be left embarrassed when ministers U-turned. The resulting by-election in North Shropshire is on 16 December, and what should be a comfortable win for the Tories – Paterson had a majority of almost 23,000 – is now looking precarious.

Ill feeling has also been stirred up by the revelations of alleged parties held in Downing Street and elsewhere in government during lockdown restrictions. After denying any parties took place, Johnson has now asked Cabinet secretary Simon Case to investigate and report back, with the Times suggesting the outcome could come as early as the end of the week.

The Conservative Party leader also faces allegations that he misled his ethics adviser over what he knew about a controversial refurbishment of his No 11 flat.

Amid all of that, Johnson is attempting to convince the country that it’s essential to follow new coronavirus measures, as the Omicron variant threatens to put even more pressure on the NHS. In an address to the nation on 12 December, the prime minister called the variant a “tidal wave”, and brought forward the deadline for offering booster jabs to all adults.

However, the question ministers continue to face in interviews is whether the public health messaging has been undermined by the government’s – and Johnson’s – actions, and what that means for his future. On top of that, people are reporting issues with booking their booster and lateral flow tests:

 

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Tories will ditch Johnson. They will go for someone much more right-wing. There is now a strain of far-right, religious, fundamentalism in the Tory Party. Look at Baker who claims god upholds the Tory definition of liberty. Look at Rabb who stupidly claimed he doesn’t believe in economic or social rights. What, now even the economic right to run a business? Not even the social right to worship? Of course, Rabb thinks of these as natural rights, what he means by not believing in rights is that he doesn’t believe in anything which challenges the rich and powerful. Rights which empower the common folk he dismisses. The absolute right of the rich and powerful to rule, he takes for granted. Johnsosn will soon be gone and the Tories will sprint rightwards. The most serious threat just now is Rabb’s attack on the Human Rights Act. The European Convention of Human Rights enshrines the post-war determination that nothing like the Nazis shall happen again. Under the guise of defending liberty, the Tories are going to make it more likely. The HRA protects basic rights which a Bill of Rights will curtail. If they get away with this, the knock on your door at three in the morning becomes more possible. That’s what they call freedom.

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