Chris Mason: Can weakened Boris Johnson turn things around? – BBC

The prime minister is confronting political and economic gales that appear to quicken by the week.
One hundred and forty eight of his own MPs want rid of him. And the pressure on prices gets worse and worse.
It raises an obvious question: Will the former – weakened authority – make it harder to address the latter?
The soaring cost of living is far from unique to the UK, but the forecasts look particularly bleak here. The British Chambers of Commerce talks of growth "grinding to a halt" this year. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development reckons only Russia will have a more poorly performing economy than the UK next year, among the G20 group of countries.
On our way to watch Boris Johnson's speech in Lancashire, at Blackpool and The Fylde College, we stop off in Wigan in Greater Manchester to visit The Edge Community Grocery.
It's been open since March of last year. People pay £5 a year to be a member, and then £4 per visit and can select up to 15 items.
The team who run it reckon it saves people about £25 every time they turn up and they see themselves as a bridge between food banks and the supermarkets.
Since January, weekly visits are up 44%. There are now 17 such groceries around the country, with an 18th opening in Blackpool in a few weeks.
They illustrate a simple economic reality at the moment: People in work, who would not in normal times regard themselves as poor, find themselves struggling.
The prime minister likes to emphasise that government cannot be a panacea here, immunising us all from any impact connected to spiralling prices.
"We have to face some realities," Mr Johnson told us.
But he seeks to offer short-term help to the most vulnerable and longer term structural changes – such as the announcement on housing in England – to, as he sees it, reconfigure the economy and people's opportunities.
"We are on your side," was the frequent refrain.
And then there are tax cuts.
I've lost count of the number of headlines I've read that have combined the surname of a senior minister and the words "tax" and "cut".
They are forever saying the words, while doing the opposite.
A fascinating insight into the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's political outlook came in a lecture he gave back in February.
It was a vision of Sunak-ism, in theory. Tax was mentioned 33 times.
"I firmly believe in lower taxes," he said, and added: "I am going to deliver a low-tax economy."
Then came the "but."
"But I'm going to do so in a responsible way."
The current economic climate, the pandemic followed by its aftermath, has led to spiralling public spending, spiralling taxes and a big state.
For some Conservatives, it's prompted something of an identity crisis. It just doesn't feel Conservative.
Hence the disjuncture: Talking about cutting taxes, while frequently doing the opposite.
And all this with the expectation from many the economic clouds will darken further and with more than four in 10 of the prime minister's MPs saying the country would be better off without him.
As I say, it's politically and economically gusty.
PM wants benefit claimants to be able to buy homes
PM under pressure to cut tax after confidence vote
How safe is Boris Johnson's job now?
War will be 'at reduced tempo' for months, says US
Georgia Senate run-off looms after bitter campaign
Cutting energy prices will take years – power boss
Senegal are 'dangerous' opponents for England
'Genius' Messi keeps Argentina World Cup dream alive
Singapore turns page on dark LGBT history
UK's shortest PM Truss: 11 gambles that went wrong
Georgia Senate run-off looms after bitter campaign
Gory new game pushes horror to new limits
Red Sea soul: A battle cry for recognition in Sudan
The people caught up in El Salvador's gang crackdown
The ‘deadly’ Indian festival celebrated for centuries
Zimbabwe's stunning 80km safari train
The misery of middle managers
The love song that became an anthem
© 2022 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.


Leave a Comment