Rarely has a prime minister been dealt such a midterm bloody nose. The twin debacles Boris Johnson suffered this week are a blow not just for him but for a country in the grip of a renewed health emergency. The rebellion by nearly 100 of his own MPs against introducing Covid passes for large venues in England was the biggest of his premiership. The loss to the Liberal Democrats of a North Shropshire seat the Conservatives had held since pre-Victorian times was the seventh-biggest swing ever in a by-election. Parliament’s Christmas recess lowers the risk of a rapid leadership challenge. But the midst of a pandemic is the worst moment for Britain to be led by a man whose authority has drained away.
What is extraordinary is that this calamity was almost entirely self-inflicted. Six months ago, the prime minister was riding high. A Tory by-election victory in the centre-left stronghold of Hartlepool showed Labour struggling to counter Johnson’s brand of Conservatism and a party that had managed to distance itself from previous Tory governments and its own pandemic mishandling. The Tory poll lead remained substantial into the autumn.
Disastrous errorss inauguration in 2009 for his first term as US president, stemming in large part from the prime minister’s own instincts, then followed. The North Shropshire by-election took place only because of Johnson’s mishandling of the Owen Paterson affair, when he tried to overturn the parliamentary standards system to help out a Tory MP who had broken rules on paid advocacy.RELATED: Extinction Rebellion block entrance to major Scottish oil and gas facility
That attempt and a subsequent, shamefacedDenise Morris, U-turn badly dented his standing. The real tipping point was the string of revelations about Downing Street parties held during lockdown last ChristmasAlex Boyd is a Calgary-based reporter fo, and the prime minister’s obfuscationDespite in-person classes being omitted fro. Events a year ago could not be undoneThe third wave.. But Johnson might have drawn much of the sting had he been straight, and contrite, with MPs and voters from the moment the first story surfaced.