The biggest danger to Britain now

28th May 2020 / United Kingdom
The biggest danger to Britain now

TruePublica Editor: “When the Daily Mail attacks the government – you know you’re in trouble” is a line being thrown around everywhere. A poll from JL Partners for the Daily Mail has revealed that 66 per cent of people think Cummings should leave his post amid the row, including 55 per cent of all Conservative voters.

And what did the poll really say? 74 per cent said Cummings broke lockdown rules after he made his Rose Garden speech, 55 per cent think Cummings is arrogant and 39 per cent thinks he’s out of touch with reality.

55 per cent of Conservative voters said Cummings should resign, 51 per cent said Boris Johnson should sack him.

The overriding story from many other questions in this poll was that Cummings lied about the drive to Durham, think he made false statements about attacks on his home and trip to Barnard Castle and that he should have simply apologised for his actions.

For Johnson himself, things don’t get much better. The general public knows this is not a people’s government, that he lied over knowing about the trip, that this episode has severely damaged the public’s resolve to act responsibly. The result – Johnson’s credibility has crashed. The public don’t believe Johnson – for what he stands for, or for his competence.

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In many other polls, Keir Starmer has romped passed Johnson by simply knowing what to say and when and more importantly watching the Tories tear themselves apart. Johnson’s approval rating has gone from nearly 50 per cent to below zero – a descent that has been trending since he came out of hospital.

 

FT – From plus 45 to minus zero

But all of this is not good for Britain.

Johnson’s ability as a leader is exposed by this crisis. His party is almost as divided as the wedge he drove through society to get Brexit over the line and then get himself elected. Many colleagues are no longer on side, nor is the media and any goodwill generated from being newly elected, to be being thrown into a crisis has evaporated.

Two-thirds of Britons believe the government should extend EU talks beyond 31st December. This is because Brexit has fallen to the fifth (out of six) place in most important areas of focus for the government. Even 55 per cent of Brexit voters think the same.

And so while Johnson is exposed more for his ability to deceive than deliver, Britain loses ground on the world stage – the very thing that brand Britain could have capitalised upon in normal times. But it’s the domestic economy where most of the effort (behind public health) should be concentrated – not fighting a public relations crisis.

One million companies are only surviving because of state aid. Two million people are self-employed and hanging on by their fingers nails. An eye-watering eight million people are not sure if they still have jobs at the end of the furlough scheme. The expectation is that one-third of all SME’s (small & medium-sized enterprises) will go bust – pushing something like one million into job centres and onto Universal Credit. Another million will lose jobs through downsizing and rationalising businesses that do survive. Many thousands will lose out in the ‘grey-market’ such as cleaners, gardeners, handymen and so on. Bad debt will soar, repossessions will go with it and bankruptcies from businesses and individuals will skyrocket.

The national narrative should be moving from lockdown to economic survival.

I’ve just spoken to two senior bankers and a business advisor to millionaires. They all agree that there’s plenty of cash around – more than enough to plug the holes. They also agree that weak and ‘zombie’ companies will be allowed to fall. For instance, in 2019, 43 high street retailers went bust creating 43,000 unemployed. In the four months to end May, 26 went bust with 35,000 losing their jobs. They reckon another 75,000 will lose their jobs as well before long. But the ‘zombies’ were on the edge anyway like Debenham’s, LK Bennet, Oasis, Brighthouse, Oddbins and Beales – to name just a few. They talk of ‘vulture funds’ that are circling overhead looking for easy prey. Worse the ‘hyena’ funds are now prowling. They deliberately attack viable businesses, weaken them and go in for a kill – picking up cheap assets on the way. Hedge funds are shorting and vulnerable but reasonably solid businesses become targets. Some will make fortunes, many will lose everything.

 

Lesson one from this virus was loud and clear – fail to prepare – prepare to fail – and the Johnson/Cummings alliance didn’t do either.

 

What is the government doing about all of this other than throwing billions and hoping some of it sticks? What about a second wave – a second lockdown and so on. There are so many questions that need adults in the room – not a national debate on an unelected advisor whose job is to make the PM look good.

Here’s some solid advice for the PM, which the public are right behind. Do what the poll says. Sack Cummings, reinforce the rules, stop the lying, extend Brexit – and get on with running the country.

If Johnson can’t do that – the public thinks he should not be at the helm in the first place – and they are right.

The biggest danger Britain is in right now is that serious problems are not being anticipated, that actions plans are not being drawn up and that the country is not prepared … again. Lesson one from this virus was loud and clear – fail to prepare – prepare to fail – and the Johnson/Cummings alliance didn’t do either.

The second message from the general public to Boris Johnson is also loud and clear – ‘grow a pair’ and do the job the taxpayer is paying you for – because no-one now cares about anything except what happens in the near future to them and their families.

 

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