The vote on Johnson’s system of 3-Tier Covid restrictions, obviously went in favour of the government, thanks to the 80 seat majority Johnson achieved in last year’s general election. The biggest rebellion so far, this time of 55 of his MPs, could not defeat the motion.
It’s no great revelation that so many Tory MPs choose to argue for the life of profit, i.e., cold, hard, money, above the lives of the working class, who are most at risk from Covid. And that they are opposed to these restrictions, put in place to control the spread of the virus, imperfect though they are.
Labour’s Starmer went to great lengths to pick them apart, pointing to the problems of test, trace and isolate and the danger of a relaxation of social mixing at Xmas. But he just puts his “concern for business” the other way round, saying the virus must be controlled, to avoid damage to the economy.
In the meantime, both inside and outside of parliament the anti-lockdown, pro-“individual freedom” brigade is growing. And ironically, it puts Johnson, who’d probably prefer to be with them if he were not PM, on the wrong side of populism. Among these protesters are the same crew who yelled for Brexit, who said “All Lives Matter” against the Black Lives Matter movement - and who express anti-vaxxer madness and crazy conspiracy theories.
Yet if it were not for Johnson’s chaotic and equivocal mishandling of the pandemic in the first place, there would have been little space for opposition to anti-Covid measures to grow. So if his authority as PM is in question, just 11 months after his election landslide, he has himself to blame. He can only hope that the “scientific cavalry” carrying 370m doses of vaccine arrives sooner rather than later, so that restrictive measures can be relaxed for good. Because that may be the only way for him to save his political neck.