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UK politics

Could Boris’s weakness save him?

Back to his “buccaneering, freedom-loving” ways? Leon Neal/Getty

Boris Johnson was about to lock the country down last December, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. “He was saved by his weakness.” He had just lost a by-election, Brexit minister Lord Frost had resigned over the government’s leftward drift, and three more Cabinet members were threatening to do the same if lockdown was brought in. So the PM “buckled” – and now, he’s a very different creature to the one “who governed by diktat” for the best part of two years. “He’s humbly asking Tory MPs what to do, then doing it.” And it’s greatly improving the quality of government. He has broken free from Sage and their “bunkum” omicron advice, and scrapped un-Conservative ideas like dictating what kinds of food that shops can promote.

This might be “humiliating” for the PM, but it means the rebellion against him is losing steam. Even his most implacable opponents talk about the May local elections as the next available date to strike. “Big-state, bossy Boris” may finally be giving way to the buccaneering, freedom-loving leader Tory MPs first elected: he has told Health Secretary Sajid Javid to overhaul the NHS “as radically as Michael Gove once reformed schools”. The chances of a “full Johnsonian recovery” look slim, given his dire approval ratings – but for now, at least, he’s hanging on.

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