Boris Johnson must win back our trust after events of past few weeks

THE last few weeks have been a bit difficult for the Government, to put it mildly.

Unforced errors and misjudgments have left my Conservative colleagues, and the public, pretty cross.

This downhill journey started when the Prime Minister instructed Conservative MPs effectively to blow up the House of Commons’ standards system, using the cover of the report into lobbying activities by former MP Owen Paterson.

The anger was fierce and the U-turn was rapid. It was an infuriating episode for those of us who didn’t vote with the Government and a very uncomfortable one for my colleagues who did. If the team captain gets something wrong, they should take personal responsibility and apologise.

That is leadership, and it was absent over the Paterson debacle.

Many of my colleagues will not forget how that was handled and a gulf in trust between ministers and the backbenches has now opened up.

This is also why an increasing number of people are finding it difficult to give those at the top the benefit of the doubt when they try to claim numerous Christmas parties did not take place during Covid restrictions last year.

Many of us spent last Christmas not seeing loved ones, exchanging Christmas presents at service stations or not being able to say goodbye to dying relatives.

Also disturbing is the suspicious timing between the Downing Street Christmas party revelations and the decision to bring in Plan B Covid restrictions that MPs will vote on next week.

It has been reported that this decision was made by 10 Downing Street so quickly that, at 6.30 on Tuesday evening, Plan B was not under discussion.

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But by 11pm, two hours after that Christmas party video became public, Number 10 was sending out instructions for Plan B to be unveiled the following day.

Big decisions affecting people’s lives, livelihoods and ­mental wellbeing across our country should not be made just to try and change embarrassing headlines.

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This is especially true when we consider that Plan B Covid restrictions are not cost-free.

The Government’s own ­analysis leaked in late October showed that Plan B would cost the economy between £11billion and £18billion in the period up until March 2022.

The events of the past few weeks ­– from the Paterson debacle to the Christmas party revelations ­ have seriously damaged the credibility of those at the very top.

Sun on Sunday readers will ask: “Why should people listen to the Prime Minister’s instructions to follow the rules when people inside 10 Downing Street don’t?”

A general election could come as soon as May 2023. As we head into 2022, my colleagues will be starting to think about whether the current circumstances will help or hinder their re-election efforts.

One colleague of mine with a tight majority said this week that “if it’s the Boris Johnson from the last couple of weeks, I think it’s going to be tough”. I know many others are thinking the same.

How things are handled in the coming weeks will determine whether even more of my colleagues reach the same conclusion.

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