The fuel crisis was caused by a shortage of truck drivers, a situation partly due to the Brexit that Johnson fought for. And there is ample evidence that months ago the Prime Minister could have made decisions that would have avoided many of the wider problems.
It is clear that the money will end with the UK leader and he should be under tremendous pressure from his own supporters to fix things and keep the public happy.
However, Johnson has proven time and again that the rules of conventional politics just don’t apply to him.
His party believers gathered in the city of Manchester this week for the first time since Johnson won a landslide election, “carried out” Brexit and ended Covid-19 restrictions in the UK. The mood here is solemn.
Whatever happens to the people out there in the real world, the dizzying bubble of the Conservative Congress ignores these myriad crises not only because they are inconvenient. The truth is that neither Johnson nor his party are under real political pressure or face any consequences – although they are responsible for many of these problems.
Instead of thinking about the pandemic, thinking about ways to mitigate the impact of Brexit on the economy, or worrying that the opposition Labor Party will capitalize on Johnson’s mistakes, Conservative party members seem unable to do so for two years to be celebrating Johnson’s success.
And it really feels like it’s Johnson’s success that they enjoy. Typically, conferences like this one focus on a number of topics of conversation, spread across government departments, that show the range of talents on the team of ministers.
But this conference was really about one thing: Johnson’s sometimes ambiguous dream of “lifting up” Britain, which is about reconciling poorer communities with more affluent areas in terms of quality of life, job opportunities and more.
The logic behind this is simple: if Johnson can make life better in areas that don’t have the same opportunities as some cities, especially London, then resentment towards the elite in those seedy areas will be reduced, Johnson will be hailed a nationally unifying hero, and he will will have a stronger grip on the British electorate.
There are questions about how the prime minister is going to finance his ambitions. Yes, some members of his own cabinet have been open about the government’s idea of raising taxes to pay for social benefits, for example. Others in the party, mostly traditional fiscal conservatives, are uncomfortable with the scale of government intervention and funding, which Johnson appeared to be pleased with during the pandemic.
However, when you weigh these grievances against the fact that Johnson has given the Conservative Party the largest majority since the 1990s, it turns out that power at any price seems to taste better than losing with honor.
A government minister told CNN on Monday evening that “fuel problems, food shortages, tax disputes, all of these things are definitely happening. But riding on your wave of success is ultimately more fun. ”
CNN asked several government officials, including cabinet ministers, why the country’s very real problems were not being discussed at all. Their responses all indicated that, in their view, if elections were held tomorrow, Johnson would easily win.
“The party, the members, we are all united around a personality who wins on its own terms. It is absolutely exhilarating to be part of it,” said a government official.
The reasons for Johnson’s success are most likely due to weak opposition on numerous fronts.
Within his own party, he is an unrivaled king for the reasons mentioned above. It is very rare for a party leader to face as little public disagreement as Johnson. Even ministers dismissed in the recent reshuffle are full of praise for their leader.
Outside of the closed conference in Manchester, the official opposition party, Labor, has not made any real capital out of the country’s recent crises.
Even at their own convention last week, Labor members focused more on internal politics than attacking an incumbent government that was forced to call in the army for fuel.
The truth is that attacking the prime minister is likely to be little to be gained anyway.
In fact, outside the gates in Manchester, the number of anti-conservative demonstrators is fewer – and much less loud – than at other conferences in recent years, when British policy was bogged down by Brexit.
The EU Commission hosted a reception in the conference center on Monday evening. Officials speaking to CNN commented – with some surprise – on how little discussion of Brexit is. “They just seem to care about this level-up thing,” said one. “Good or bad, they all seem on the same side and behind Boris.”
On Monday before, Johnson’s bulldog-like Brexit negotiator, David Frost, had spoken of suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol unilaterally within a few weeks.
The protocol, a central point of contention throughout the Brexit talks, was negotiated and signed by Johnson himself with the EU; The aim is to remove the need for border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Suspension could have far-reaching and harmful consequences.
Somewhat surprisingly, at the same reception by the EU Commission, Frost was seen talking to European officials like old friends.
Ahead of the conference, some Conservative MPs told CNN that the party needed to answer a question: is the man who used his personality-inspired politics to push through Brexit after years of impasse, is the right man to get Britain through to navigate the years? of turbulence and avoidable crises.
If you look at the past few days in Manchester the answer is a resounding yes.
Whatever is going on in the real world, Johnson maintains a polling lead big enough to win an election. He has a parliamentary majority, which means he can enforce virtually any policy in the House of Commons. There is no one in Britain, in any political party or opposition group, who could even begin to weaken their influence on British politics in the foreseeable future.
The Prime Minister’s sister once said that as a young man Johnson wanted to become “King of the World”. He may not be, but he is the de facto king of British politics right now. And he has the means to hold that power for as long as he wants.