It’s why his exultations every Thursday night on the steps of 10 Downing Street have become even more frenetic after lifesaving treatment for Covid-19.
Yet, given the Prime Minister is the first to admit that he owes his life to the brilliant care he received from medical staff from overseas who did not leave his bedside during the most critical hours, it was perplexing that it required a political revolt for Mr Johnson to ask foreign NHS and care workers to be removed from the immigration health surcharge.
Thankfully common sense appeared to be prevailing last night just 24 hours after Mr Johnson defended the surcharge at PMQs which had been due to rise from £400 to £624. “We must look at the realities. This is a great national service – it is a national institution – that needs funding, and those contributions help us to raise about £900m,” he told Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Mr Johnson’s point about funding was a fair one, but was he suggesting that it is not possible to raise £900m by not cutting back some bureaucratic excess in the annual NHS budget of at least £134bn?
Yet, leaving aside the economics, there was also the moral case for some benevolence at this time as Tory MPs started to back Labour on this issue in significant numbers.
Without migrant workers, the NHS would not have been able to respond so heroically to this crisis. And, let’s face it, these staff do not earn a fortune once living costs are deducted. As such, this belated gesture is a small price to pay to avoid Mr Johnson’s weekly gesture looking hollow after he, himself, told MPs: “I have been a personal beneficiary of carers who have come from abroad and frankly saved my life.” Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.
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