Now Boris Johnson has to prove himself as Prime Minister – Bill Carmichael
IT seems incredible that it is just a year to the day since Boris Johnson walked across the threshold of Number 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister for the first time.
It has been a simply astonishing 12 months – probably the most remarkable year in recent history – and not even the most perspicacious observer could have possibly predicted recent events.
If you wrote the happenings of the last few months as the plot of a dark and gritty political thriller, publishers would have rejected it out of hand as ridiculously far-fetched.
For Johnson, it has been a year he won’t forget in a hurry for both personal and political reasons.
In personal terms he achieved his lifelong ambition of becoming Prime Minister – or “king of the world” as he called it as a boy – and then, within the span of a single calendar month, he almost died of the Covid-19 pandemic and then saw the birth of a son. These are the sort of life’s landmarks that are likely to stick in the memory for a long time to come.
But in terms of politics it has also been a momentous period – the Parliamentary quagmire over Brexit, a famous and emphatic General Election victory, and then at the end of January this year, the UK finally emerging as a free and independent nation once again after almost half a century of subjugation under the yoke of the undemocratic and unaccountable EU bureaucracy.
Boris Johnson became Prime Minister because his predecessor, Theresa May, had been rejected repeatedly over her compromise deal agreed with the EU.
It is worth noting that the ardent Remainers in the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the Conservatives and the SNP, who are now squealing about the threat of a “no deal” Brexit, had ample opportunities to avoid that eventuality and accept Mrs May’s compromise, which I supported at the time, but they decided not to do that.
Instead the Remainer Parliament, along with the entire establishment elite, sabotaged Mrs May’s compromise deal, and then halted any further progress, repeatedly blocking a general election where the people could have their say.
Even an attempt at proroguing Parliament, in the gift of the executive for decades, was blocked by the Supreme Court in a nakedly political move that trashed the court’s reputation for neutrality.
With all these forces up against him, Johnson certainly had a fight on his hands, but eventually the impasse was broken when Jeremy Corbyn, deluded into thinking he could win, agreed to a General Election.
What followed was little short of a landslide, with the Conservatives securing an 80-seat majority, largely thanks to former Labour voters in the north turning Tory over Brexit, while Labour posted its worst election performance since 1935.
That was a game changer. Parliament quickly ratified the withdrawal agreement from the EU and Monsieur Barnier was put on notice that his previous bullying of Mrs May’s officials would no longer be tolerated.
But just as things were looking up, along came the Covid-19 pandemic, which nobody saw coming (although there are lots of people who reckon they got it right, but only after the fact).
As if things could not get any more complicated, the Prime Minister tested positive for the virus, then quickly became seriously ill, and spent several days in an intensive care unit apparently on the brink of death.
Thankfully he recovered and about three weeks later he announced his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, had given birth to a son, sparking much vile abuse and bonkers conspiracy theories that we have come to expect.
So where are we now? Well, Boris has had the most difficult first 12 months that anyone could imagine, and he’s still standing.
There are big questions to be asked about the spiralling debt and the response to the pandemic – and let’s not forget the economy has been devastated.
But the good news is that the Conservatives have a solid majority and an election is probably at least four years off. I believe fair-minded Britons will give the Prime Minister the intervening period to prove himself.
My ardent hope for Boris and for Britain is that the next 12 months are a bit calmer and less eventful than the last.
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