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Monday, June 21, 2021

Will Johnson restore cabinet government?

If articles like this one in the Guardian are anything to go by, the Tories are still feeling pretty sore about losing the Chesham and Amersham by-election. The paper claims cabinet ministers including Rishi Sunak will this week urge Boris Johnson not to keep sidelining his ministers, as officials warn of a difficult autumn ahead with pressures over hospital waiting lists, social care reform and court backlogs.

The paper predicts that Johnson will face a tricky few days after the landslide loss in the byelection in Chesham and Amersham, a defeat that many of his own MPs put down to his controversial planning changes. He also remains under persistent attack from his former aide Dominic Cummings, who has promised a new submission on the prime minister this week and a live Question and Answer on Monday:

Sunak is one of a number of cabinet ministers who are privately pushing Johnson to pay more heed to collective decision-making, rather than keeping all decisions in a close clique in No 10 and bringing in only the relevant secretary of state.

“The cabinet has to be involved in all the big decisions that reflect what the party stands for, the cabinet needs to be more involved in those decisions,” one Whitehall official said. “All cabinet ministers have to be part of making decisions that are part of a bigger picture. If you aren’t taking decisions as a collective, it is very hard to go out and sell a coherent argument.”

Another cabinet source said cabinet meetings, once arenas of combat under Theresa May, had become non-events with no debate and which key officials did not always attend. A reshuffle has long been rumoured, but the source said there was likely to now be a delay until the autumn. “Every prime minister hates reshuffles and Boris hates them more than most,” the source said.

Senior aides in No 10 believe the government is reaching the ceiling of its support in the polls and that “politics as usual” is likely to return once memories of the vaccine programme start to fade.

Johnson is said to be keen to go on the offensive with government priorities, particularly plans for infrastructure investment, though the government is facing urgent spending demands.

“It’s no secret that there are huge immediate pressures,” one senior No 10 official said. “Hospital waiting times are a huge concern, the court backlog is also looking very difficult, we’re likely to need to spend more in education at the spending review.”

Asked if that would mean a return to austerity measures in any quarters, the official said: “We never even think about using that word in here.”

If one of the outcomes of the Chesham and Amersham by-election is that Johnson will be reined in a bit, then that might be a good thing for the effective governance of the UK.
Johnson will do whatever is best for his political survival
A reshuffle will be hard for him as to how to allow the disappointed NOT to 'get at him'
To get rid of the Health Minister can leave Johnson exposed for he will have lost his shield.
The immediate pressures come from the Conservative cuts of the past
They will not use the word austerity but that does not mean that they will not find another way round the problem.
Whatever happens we will be paying debts of for years.We did not pay of WW2 debt off till.2006
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