‘Captain of a rudderless ship’: Tory media turn on Boris Johnson
Nick Hopkins www.theguardian.com
Normally Conservative-leaning media turned on Boris Johnson on Monday amid rising anger about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, and the late decision to in effect cancel Christmas.
Here are some of the comments they made …
Daily Mail: ‘Does the prime minister have any idea what he’s doing?’
Mr Johnson’s previous message, ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, has morphed into another popular song with a very different tone – ‘Lonely this Christmas’.
Carefully and lovingly laid plans for families to get together for the first time in months were dashed at a stroke. Overnight, the season of goodwill evaporated. And, after yet another screeching U-turn, the question on many lips is: does the prime minister have any idea what he’s doing or where he’s going? Is there a coherent Covid strategy?
Or is he all at sea – the captain of a rudderless ship being controlled by the currents rather than steering a steady course?
Instead of meekly buying into every scientific scare story, Mr Johnson must interrogate each one and come to measured conclusions based on a balance of risk. That is what political leadership is all about. Seize control of events or, sure as shooting, they will seize control of you.
Daily Telegraph leader: ‘This dismal pattern of promising one thing and delivering another …’
Tory MPs critical of the lockdown measures question whether this decision was deliberately delayed until the Commons rose for the recess on Friday, thereby avoiding a possible backbench revolt.
This is denied by ministers who say they were not fully alerted to the spread of the new variant of the virus until Friday night and action could no longer be put off. We concede that these are difficult times for the government but this dismal pattern of promising one thing and delivering another is hardly designed to reinforce public faith and trust in the way this crisis is being handled.
The Times: ‘The mother of all U-turns …’
I worked with Johnson for years. I don’t believe he sets out to be duplicitous or to mislead. He is just desperate to be liked, a trait which is desperately incompatible with leading a country through such a time.
The weekend’s mother of all U-turns must prompt him and those around him to reject their approach to date. In the days and weeks ahead, sober caution must win out over reckless optimism. Instead of cheery promises and cheerleading about Britain’s greatness we need the government to think pessimistically, act early and act decisively. For once, it must get ahead of events – on three fronts.
Clare Foges, columnist
The Sun: ‘No doubt Boris Johnson has made a pig’s ear of things recently …’
There’s no doubt that Boris Johnson has made a pig’s ear of things recently. Hard-up families waking up in tier 4 this morning will long remember the way in which their festive reunions were cancelled at the 11th hour – after the cash had been spent.
But we applaud the PM for standing up to cabinet colleagues who pushed for even more ruinous restrictions. And it’s clear to all but the most fervent Tory-haters that he is at least acting in good faith: his agonised flip-flopping on Christmas is proof that the heartbreaking decision was not made lightly.