EVEN though Boris Johnson is playing for the highest of stakes with his ‘do or die’ approach to Brexit, he clearly does not wish to be defined by the issue which has brought down the last four Conservative prime ministers.
He has already tried to put significant distance between his premiership, and his predecessor’s administration, by making a flurry of policy pronouncements to boost flagging morale in the key public services after a decade of austerity.
Yet Mr Johnson’s task is to prove that these commitments – including those made during his visit to HMP Leeds to meet prison staff – are sincere and not pre-election bribes.
As such, the Prime Minister should be offering greater clarity on when the Government intends to recruit new prison guards, police officers, doctors, teachers and so on when it can take years to train staff. A leader committed to regaining public trust will not hesitate to do so or explain where the money is coming from – the tests that the Tory party routinely applies to all Labour policy pledges.
That said, it would be disingenuous not to recognise Mr Johnson’s desire – as opposed to commitment – to reform social care. An issue ignored by the last government for too long, the Tory leader cited the issue on the steps of 10 Downing Street and then used his visit to Yorkshire – his first since taking office – to commit to tackling this challenge on a cross-party basis.
This is welcome. Not only does he appear to recognise the urgency of a policy conundrum repeatedly highlighted by The Yorkshire Post but his wish to work collaboratively with other parties marks a welcome change in tone from the divisiveness of Brexit. And it should not be under-estimated. If Mr Johnson finds a way to be more collegiate on social care, Parliament may – just – find it easier to find common ground on other issues.