By Andrew Allison, Chief Executive
It has been a terrible week for Boris Johnson. Before Christmas, Number 10 had hoped that the so-called 'Partygate' scandals would be forgotten about. Instead, matters have got far worse.
I am not going to go into detail about all of the parties which have taken place in Number 10. But what I will say is that there is a "do as I say, not as I do" culture inside the heart of Government, and that no-one appeared (or appears) to be interested in changing that culture.
In the House of Commons last Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that when he mixed with 40 people all merrily chatting and drinking in the evening sunshine, he hadn't realised that it was a party. That stretches incredulity to breaking point. I don't begrudge anyone a drink after work; I have done it plenty of times myself over the years, but the problem is that at the time that particular party took place, if you or I had sent an email around to colleagues suggesting that they bring their own booze to an after work party in a garden, we would have been fined up to £10,000 for breaking Covid laws.
Likewise, the images of the Queen sitting alone in St George's Chapel, Windsor, during Prince Philip's funeral are in stark contrast to the two parties in Downing Street the previous evening, where some people left with an empty suitcase to fill it up with booze at a local convenience store so as not to arouse the suspicion of police officers when they returned.
I will always be grateful to Boris Johnson for eventually getting us out of the European Union, but as I have said on numerous occasions, the Government is not taking full advantage of the benefits Brexit has to offer. Instead the tax burden is at its highest since Clement Attlee was in power; inflation is rising; electricity and gas bills are rising; the cost of petrol and diesel have risen substantially over the last year. The Government could immediately scrap VAT on domestic fuel, but it will not. It could help families and businesses by scrapping the planned rise in National Insurance this April, but has no plans to do so. Next year, Corporation Tax will rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent.
Boris Johnson has lost the trust of many people. Patients died in hospitals alone because their families were prevented from visiting them. Many friends and family of those who died were prevented from attending their funerals. Celebrations were cancelled. When trust is lost, it is very difficult to regain it.
For the Prime Minister to survive he needs to offer a truly heartfelt apology. He can't hide behind technicalities and exemptions. He needs to remember that we hold those in Government to high standards. They are not above the law.
He needs to understand that this year is going to be an extremely difficult year for millions of people. You can't grow the economy by constantly increasing the tax burden on families and businesses.
All of us want to live in a clean environment, but stop the doomsday rhetoric. Most people don't believe that we are at a minute to midnight and that if we don't act now, the earth is doomed. Allow businesses and entrepreneurs the time to develop the technologies required to move us in this direction. Stop banning things; stop setting arbitrary targets; stop inflating all our energy bills with green levies. We can't afford any of this. Let the invisible hand of the free market do its work.
The Prime Minister needs to show real leadership. He also needs to have a huge clear-out at Number 10. The operation there is shambolic.
If he fails to understand the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people; if he fails to fully appreciate the sacrifices we have all made since March 2020; if he thinks that laws he pushed through Parliament don't apply to him, then he is doomed. In short, if he can't turn the Johnson supertanker around in record time, he may not have a future as its captain. I suspect, though, that it is already too late.
Photo Credit: Boris Johnson - Michael Tubi / Shutterstock.com