July 19 should been a day of euphoria for the people of England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been following their own respective roadmaps but residents living within England were gearing up for a removal of almost all coronavirus restrictions. Freedom day!
Boris Johnson and the newly appointed health secretary, Sajid Javid, had very little wriggle room on this reopening. Matt Hancock's humiliating exit was another example of a governmental figure who was unable to follow the guidance that the government themselves had put together.
Dominic Cummings and the Barnard Castle incident was just the start of a spiralling set of contradictions that quickly started to chip away at the authenticity of these rules and restrictions. Nobody on the government's front bench would have been able to keep a straight face if they were to have told the public that pandemic restrictions were staying for a longer period of time. So, that's why we are here.
It felt as though Britain has been steadily moving out of its imposed lockdown for quite some time. The Prime Minister deserved credit for seemingly finding a middle-ground between those who wanted to protect lives at all costs and those who simply wanted to open everything up in April.
However, the Hancock debacle sparked a reminder of governmental hypocrisy; one rule for the country's governors and another for their subjects. It was a line that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer could start rolling out again, only this time the narrative had a little bit more substance. We were awash with reminders of the government's haphazard failings during 2020 and the foundations of their pandemic revival were crumbling.
As a result, the level of pragmatism that we had seen from the start of 2021 has now been cast aside for a full-throttle, fasten-your-seatbelts solution to this global health crisis. It is less strong leadership and more a case of levelling out the playing field. 'We can't follow the guidance so you don't need to, either'. It is a classic case of adapting to the self-inflicted awkward situation.
In 2016, former Prime Minister David Cameron fell on his sword with the Brexit referendum and such a divisive political decision threatened to divide the country. Well, it did divide the country, but the Conservatives shape-shifted into a government that would fully commit to the impossible political project that they had created.
Brexit may have polarised traditional Conservative voters but it gave the government an opportunity for genuine working-class appeal. A large number of Brexit voters came from working-class areas and the Tories now represented them in a more transparent way: the party that could deliver Brexit.
This isn't the same party that won back power in 2010 and it's a far cry from the Margaret Thatcher years. One dare says that there will be a big reshuffle before the next general election because Johnson and company have been exposed in the face of a very real crisis.
The coronavirus has thrown up challenges that nobody could have foreseen and Johnson will see out this pandemic until it is done. There is little point in ousting him from his seat while there are more twists and turns to come. The prospect of further restrictions and lockdowns, later down the line, cannot be ruled out.
Johnson can be used as the scapegoat for anything that does go wrong regarding the pandemic, in the same way that his predecessor, Theresa May, was hung out to dry when she tried to negotiate a sensible Brexit deal. It would be surprising to see the current Prime Minister taking his party to another General Election because he simply carries too much baggage.
This is a party that abandons loyalty and sentimentality in the pursuit of power and success. In some ways, you have to respect the ruthlessness of their operations. They pull together to prolong their time in power and they aren't afraid to make tough decisions regarding personnel.
The Conservatives are like a company that goes under and then comes back under a different name: resilient, smart and unwilling to shoulder the blame for their past mistakes. They certainly benefit from the lack of political education amongst our population but their bounce-back-ability in the face of their own sheer incompetence is really quite remarkable!