Boris Johnson’s first supposed gaffe as Prime Minister happened with minutes of his appointment, according to the left-wing press.
After his visit to the Queen following his election as Tory leader he loudly revealed to Downing Street aides that the Queen had told him: “I don’t know why anyone would want the job”. Divulging private discussions with the head of state may be a breach of royal protocol but how right she was.
In his televised address to the nation last night Boris Johnson clearly set out how we would navigate our way out of lockdown and the criteria that would be used to decide exactly how and when.
In a strong and impassioned speech he praised the public’s “patience and common sense”, paid fulsome tribute to key workers and gave us some hope that eventually, perhaps in late summer, we’d return to something like normal life.
He could hardly have been more cautious only announcing the most modest relaxation of the lockdown and yet even before he’d made his address he was being pilloried left, right and centre for being simultaneously “reckless” and “feeble”.
A few weeks ago First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was calling for a frank conversation with the British people about the roadmap for leaving lockdown. Now she’s got one she’s complaining that it’s too soon to move away from the initial ‘stay at home’ message. Predictably her counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland have made similar negative noises.
Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth criticised the new ‘stay alert’ message saying it was vague and lacked clarity. This was hours before it had been properly launched and well ahead of today’s publishing of the 50 page document and sector briefing papers that will provide further detail.
Worst of all are the unions. Last week, the GMB, the Transport and Salaried Staff Association and the TUC all started flexing their muscles threatening that their members will simply veto any relaxation if they don’t like it.
None, though, have been so active in trying to block a return to work as the National Education Union (NEU). Last month, the union set up a petition opposing the reopening of schools “until it is safe to do so”.
It has though already said there are no grounds on which it will support the reopening of schools for the foreseeable future because it demands social distancing while simultaneously saying this is not possible in schools.
At the same time it has told its members not to engage with lessons via the internet. The NEU doesn’t want its members, all sat at home on full public sector pay, to teach either in or out of school.
Whatever game it is playing it clearly doesn’t have children at heart. Whatever game the politicians are playing they clearly don’t have the needs of the country at heart.
At this time of national emergency no one can be relied upon to do the right thing. It seems to me they are all wielding the power this emergency has given them to create as much difficulty for the government in pursuit of their own long-term political ends.
Who would want the PM’s job, the Queen asked less than 10 months ago. I’m sure Boris is beginning to wonder that himself.