Little more than six weeks ago, Boris Johnson was pictured jubilantly bashing a tiny gong to celebrate the fact he had “got Brexit done”.
He began 2020 in the most powerful position any prime minister had enjoyed for more than a decade – with a comfortable Commons majority, a lame-duck Labour leader, and the luxury of a five-year term stretching ahead.
He had grand plans for “levelling up” Britain, shaking up Whitehall and remaking the Tory party. And he carried his responsibilities lightly, taking a 10-day Caribbean break over Christmas with his partner.
It is now clear, though, that just as Theresa May’s premiership was broken by Brexit, and Gordon Brown’s defined by the financial crisis, Johnson will forever be remembered – for good or ill – as the coronavirus prime minister.
And while Brown’s decade at the Treasury and dour demeanour made him the ideal leader for the banking crash, nothing in Johnson’s background or political makeup have prepared him for telling the British public to stay out of the pub.
Temperamentally upbeat, with a strong appetite for risk, he is notoriously a (tongue in cheek) admirer of the mayor in Jaws – “a gigantic fish is eating all your constituents and he decides to keep the beaches open. OK, in that instance he was actually wrong. But in principle, we need more politicians like the mayor!” he (half-)joked, when he was running for City Hall.
Some observers, including in his own party, fret that this optimistic disposition – combined with a strong anti-authoritarian instinct – has slowed the government’s response to the virus, making Johnson and his team shy away from the most draconian interventions.Read More….