29 July 2021, The Tablet

A very precarious prime minister

Boris’s balancing act


Covid-19 rates in Britain are falling, and so also is the government’s popularity. There may be connections. Boris Johnson experienced a “vaccination bounce” in his poll ratings, as Britain had an early success in the international league table of countries racing to immunise their populations. But this effect was always likely to wear off. More to the point, the public’s attention has been directed, thanks to the outpourings of Johnson’s former top adviser Dominic Cummings, to the government’s many failings along the way.

In Cummings’ account, Johnson’s two years as leader of the Conservative Party and the country have been rudderless from the start. He reports Johnson as saying – perhaps with more ironic flippancy than Cummings realised at the time – that his “true boss” was The Daily Telegraph, the paper for which he once worked. But that paper is now full of commentators who are unimpressed by his performance.

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