Two years ago this month, as Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, he vowed: We in this government will work hard to give this country the leadership it deserves. Does the country deserve Mr Johnson’s leadership?
The past few weeks have provided a relevant demonstration of its failures. Having been ordered to self-isolate through the NHS Test and Trace system after coming into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid-19, Mr Johnson first sought to circumvent the rules through a pilot program that would instead allow him to do a daily test. Public indignation forced him to turn back with comic haste on July 18, but the damage was done. On the eve of England’s full unlock, Mr Johnson needlessly undermined the legitimacy of the self-isolation system.
At that time, the UK had recorded the world’s highest official daily rate of Covid-19 cases, testifying to the unmanaged borders that allowed the Delta variant to arrive here from India and thrive. The Johnson government can brag about the successful deployment of the vaccine. 68% of adults received two doses, which significantly reduced deaths and hospitalizations. But this achievement, a tribute to the entrepreneurial State, is undermined by a government which displays its ineptitude on a daily basis.
Mr Johnson was elected Tory leader with a crass mandate to bring Brexit to fruition. Contrary to many predictions, the UK left not only the EU but also the single market and customs union and signed a new trade deal with its old partners. Perhaps the most attractive argument for Brexit was that it could pave the way for a democratic renaissance: decisions would be made by elected British politicians, not unelected EU commissioners. Governments would be forced to account for their own failures rather than blame distant and irresponsible bureaucrats in Brussels.
[see also:After two years as Prime Minister, Boris Johnsons unfitness for office has never been clearer]
But far from advancing under Mr Johnson, British democracy has regressed. The UK was once a country admired by European liberals for its pragmatism and moderation, but now it is increasingly viewed with concern and disdain. As Annette Dittert, head of the London bureau of German public broadcaster ARD, writes in her essay on page 30: Attacks on the justice system and the media are part of everyday life, with potentially fatal consequences for parliamentary democracy UK.
Britain’s centralized political system, unwritten constitution and obscure and outdated electoral rules mean it is exceptionally vulnerable to authoritarians and demagogues. Mr Johnson has exploited this state of affairs for all it’s worth. He stuffed the House of Lords with donors and cronies, he broke the law by seeking to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, and he presided over widespread nepotism in the distribution of lucrative Covid-19 contracts.
By expelling many of the Conservative Party’s most prominent MPs, such as former ministers Rory Stewart, David Gauke (who is a New statesman online columnist) and Dominic Grieve, and promoting ministers based on blind loyalty rather than ability, Mr Johnson has marginalized his internal opponents.
The tragicomedy of Mr Johnson’s post as prime minister is that while he may have the executive power of command, he seems to have little idea what to do with it, as his recent empty speech on leveling.
The Tories remain hegemonic in Westminster, but they face forces beyond their control: in Northern Ireland, where the creation of a border with the Irish Sea has rekindled sectarian divides, and in Scotland, where the SNP is in power and is determined to gain a second independence. referendum. There are also signs of a Labor revival. Keir Starmer, who writes a guest column on page 19, has reorganized his team of advisers and promoted Shabana Mahmood, an exceptionally capable politician.
At this critical moment in its history, the UK needs a Prime Minister who demonstrates diligence, discernment, humility, strategic vision and moral integrity. We have Boris Johnson.
[see also:The politics of lies: Boris Johnson and the erosion of the rule of law]
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