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UK politics

Can he do another Lazarus?

Boris Johnson in happier times, in 2009. Colin Davey/Getty

Boris Johnson has always been a “rule-flouting, outrage-inducing politician”, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. That’s how he was able to get Brexit done and romp home in the 2019 general election with the biggest Tory majority in a generation. England’s Covid restrictions are now being dropped because he correctly overruled the gloomsters at Sage and resisted a winter lockdown. So how shocked should we really be about the “shenanigans” at No 10? Sure, the “hypocrisy” of sending the police after rule breakers while your staff make regular booze runs to the off-licence is not easy to defend. But on the important stuff – vaccines, and keeping lockdowns as short as possible – Boris has had a good pandemic.

For many Tories, the real case for getting rid of the PM is that when Covid ends, he might continue his “depressing slide into illiberal Conservatism”. What happened to his “low-tax, small-state Merry England” philosophy? He now sees “more government” as the solution to most problems. If this continues, as one rebel MP told me, “we will have no reason for anyone to vote Tory in the next election”. Nevertheless, I do still think it’s possible Boris will change tack and return to his libertarian roots – if only because that may be the only way he’ll survive this. He has always specialised in “near-death experiences and Lazarus-style recoveries. He might, yet, have one more left in him.”