EXPECTATIONS OF Boris Johnson – and the Government – are even higher after the Queen’s Speech reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s priorities when it comes to Brexit, NHS and the Northern Powerhouse.
Free from three and a half years of Parliamentary and political gridlock, Mr Johnson now finds himself in the vanguard and in a position to re-energise the Tories after a decade of austerity.
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Understandably, there was an air of triumphalism on the part of Tories as Ministers and MPs began to roll up their sleeves while Labour and Lib Dems remain in such disarray following last week’s election.
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But tone matters – and while there were few surprises in the legislative programme – the Prime Minister now needs to reach out to all parts of the country, and sections of society, rather than the so-called ‘red wall’ seats where lifelong Labour voters rejected Jeremy Corbyn in such significant numbers on December 12.
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And, in many respects, the success of this Parliament is not necessarily Brexit – Mr Johnson now has a clear electoral mandate to lead Britain out of the European Union – but whether the Tory leader can preside over five years of reconciliation and national renewal.
It means politics becoming more consensual and conciliatory on the many issues where there is common ground – the PM’s offer to work with other parties on social care must be sincere – and it means the debate, where there are genuine differences, focusing more on principles and policies and less on personalities.
It also requires the Government being prepared to be scrutinised – Mr Johnson has much still to prove on this front – and realising that both he, and his entire team, need to avoid unnecessary distractions if Whitehall is to be finally rebalanced in favour of the North. That is the new test.