This weekend should be a great time for Boris Johnson. The celebration of the landslide victory in the December elections. The moment to be acclaimed with the room on its feet and the laughter punctuating the speech of a prime minister brimming with energy. Johnson has always drawn great political party to his sense of humor. Until now. The script is going to be quite another. The annual congress of Conservative Party starts this Sunday in format virtual. It will be ‘online’ by imposition of coronavirus, which reduces the event to cold, lackluster speeches in front of the camera, dry stick and solo. As was seen a couple of weeks ago with Labor, in similar circumstances, it is difficult to carry out a conclave of this kind from a distance, without the bustle in the corridors, the legion of journalists sharpening every gesture and word and without the heat of militancy, the circle in which Johnson is much more popular than with members of the parliamentary group.
If the format is not very suggestive, the atmosphere is not euphoric either. The absolute majority that the conservatives have allows them to govern without hindrance for the next four years, but the country’s situation has turned upside down with the double crisis of the ‘Brexi‘and the coronavirus threatening to bring down the economy. And in one of the most defining moments in British history, power in Johnson’s hands is restless.
The incompetence displayed by the prime minister translates into a continuous shock, a improvisation after another, one combination of errors and mixed messages. To this is added the contempt for the opinions of their own deputies, who this week starred the first rebellion, demanding greater decision-making power from the House of Commons when imposing new national restrictions due to the coronavirus. Many do not forgive him for taking them to violate international law with the ‘Brexit’ treaty. Three former Conservative prime ministers and other top Tory figures asked him to back down. It was of no use.
Johnson started term with a high popularity rating in surveys, which was maintained during the beginning of the epidemic. The decline started when he justified his top advisor, Dominic Cummings, for having circumvented confinement. The British felt betrayed. Currently Labor and Conservatives are tied in the polls, with the head of the opposition, Keir Starmer, leading Johnson as favorite when choosing the best prime minister.
If there is anxiety and tension among the conservative deputies, the related press so far openly condemns the prime minister. “I have found the dramatic fall of Boris Johnson in his own party very surprising,” he reflects. Simon Hix, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics. “It’s amazing how ordinary deputies, the media like the ‘Spectator’, the ‘Telegraph’, the ‘Daily Mail’, the ‘Express’ have quickly turned against him and there is someone now waiting in the shadows, which Rishi Sunak“.
The new favorite
He finance Minister He is the new rising star in the party and the conservative press. Sunak, with a leisurely style and measured language, is credited with competence, organization, rationality, attention and knowledge of the dossiers, all that Johnson does not possess. Nor does he hide his ambition. One of the latest released photos shows him alongside portraits of various former ‘Tory’ prime ministers. Interestingly, Sunak was named when Cummings insisted that his predecessor, Sajid Javid, was ceased. With the move, the powerful government adviser wanted to control the Treasury department. Sunak has not allowed it and now it is impossible to stop him.
Since the coronavirus brought him to the ICU, Johnson has been more restrained in reopening the economy, to the frustration of those who consider the predictions of scientific advisers to be exaggerated and wrong. The adoption of local restrictions Faced with the second wave of coronavirus, this group of ‘Tories’ has seen it as a sign of authoritarianism. They are the ones who applaud Sunak, who has so far prevented a second national lockdown. In search of consensus, the day he presented his last plan to maintain employment, he did so flanked by the head of the employers’ organization and general secretary of the unions. She told the British that they must “live without fear”. Many see Sunak more in tune than Johnson with the conservative tradition, and that is winning him support in all sectors of the party.
“Johnson is in a precarious situation“warns Professor Hix.” If the downward trend in polls continues, within six months you may find yourself in a very weak position, particularly if ‘Brexit’ goes wrong and if the covid continues to return. I think that in the middle of next year, after the elections in Scotland, with the ‘Brexit’, the covid, it can be found in a unsustainable situation in the Conservative Party. “