DAN WOOTTON: Boris Johnson needs to get a grip

DAN WOOTTON: Queue here for chaos: Unless our Prime Minister gets a grip soon Britain is going to decide that – just like Labour in the 1970s – Boris isn’t working

Forty-two years ago one simple image helped sweep Labour from power after Britain’s last Winter of Discontent and put Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street.

A devastating poster showed a queue of ordinary Brits caught in a snaking queue for the dole juxtaposed with the powerfully simplistic phrase Labour Isn’t Working.

Now, four decades later, Tory MPs worryingly concede in private that, despite the pathetic lack of a functioning opposition, there’s an eerily similar mood in the air.

And much as former supporters of the Prime Minister like me don’t want to have to admit it, that poster could now just as well read: Boris Isn’t Working.

What the hell happened to all that hope and promise of January 2020?

Back in 1979 the Tories’ election pitch was that the Labour government was impotent to deal with economic crises and over-mighty unions.

Forty-two years ago one simple image helped sweep Labour from power after Britain’s last Winter of Discontent and put Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street, writes DAN WOOTON. A devastating poster showed a queue of ordinary Brits caught in a snaking queue for the dole juxtaposed with the powerfully simplistic phrase Labour Isn’t Working. Now, four decades later, Tory MPs worryingly concede in private that, despite the pathetic lack of a functioning opposition, there’s an eerily similar mood in the air

And while impotent might seem to be an odd word use in connection with our priapic, father-of-six PM, that’s how he’s beginning to look too.

The chance to take back control and ensure the destiny of Britain was in the hands of Westminster MPs answerable to their constituents, not Brussels bureaucrats.

An opportunity to cut the red tape and do what’s best for the UK at almost any cost, avoiding international crises.

Twenty months on and the country is falling apart.

We are queuing for petrol.

Queuing for six hours at passport control to get back into our own country despite the fact that only a fraction as many people are flying now compared to before the pandemic and Priti Patel doesn’t seem to care.

Queuing for treatment from a NHS which seems unable to deal with a waning epidemic and routine diseases.

Back in 1979 the Tories’ election pitch was that the Labour government was impotent to deal with economic crises and over-mighty unions. Above: The famous poster

And much as former supporters of the Prime Minister like me don’t want to have to admit it, that poster could now just as well read: Boris Isn’t Working. What the hell happened to all that hope and promise of January 2020?. Above: Mr Johnson addressing the UN last week

And even queuing to get round the bloody M25 because Priti Patel (again) and our terminally ineffectual police are incapable of a stopping a tiny rabble of eco-nuts blocking the carriageways on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, illegal migrants continue to flood the country via the Channel in record numbers, making a mockery of tough talk from the government (Priti again), and our Brexit advantage is being needlessly thrown away.

This was always my fear of 18 months of debilitating lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the doomsday scientists took control of governance and our lives with very little thought about what would actually happen when we emerged the other side.

Confusion, panic, mixed government messaging, U-turns, dithering and then terrifying briefings designed to scare us back into submission are becoming habitual.

Well, I am close to breaking point – this isn’t any way for a great country to operate.

Brexit should have stopped this sort of nightmare – and, with the right planning, it would have.

But where the hell is Boris? Our leader, in whom the British public has shown so much faith, is missing in action.

Twenty months on from Mr Johnson’s election victory and the country is falling apart. We are queuing for petrol. Above: Queues at a petrol station in London today 

This is a very real crisis, Prime Minister. Your citizens have left petrol stations up and down the country dry, despite your ministers insisting there is no shortage of fuel.

Why? Because we’re scared.

Because we’ve started to lose faith in government messaging over the past 18 months with screeching U-turns at the last minute, often without a shred of evidence to back up why.

Sitting back and sending out a string of incompetent morons from your weak Cabinet to do your bidding, seemingly without any insights or facts, is a dereliction of duty.

Where is the strategic plan to assure the public there isn’t a need to panic buy and that the Army won’t be distributing fuel to key workers within days?

Hoping that all of this will quietly fade away once every tank has been filled shows you are either very naïve or completely bonkers.

As the MailOnline revealed earlier today, parents have been expressing very real fears on Mumsnet, with one writing: ‘So… all things considered… aren’t we up s*** creek? Gas and electricity prices. 

‘Covid. Council tax hikes. Inflation. Food shortages. Brexit. Petrol. Sounds like something out of a dystopian nightmare. 

‘I’m worried dear reader, and ‘keep calm and carry on’ doesn’t help.’

Illegal migrants continue to flood the country via the Channel in record numbers, making a mockery of tough talk from the government (Priti again), and our Brexit advantage is being needlessly thrown away

And Boris’ bitter former adviser Dominic Cummings said today it is ‘obvious that the government has failed to prepare for supply chain problems that we were discussing in May 2020’.

Writing to his Substack subscribers, he added worryingly: ‘People I know who were ahead of the game on covid, including some who work(ed) in or around No10 and worked on contingency plans in 2020, stockpiled some meat, bought oil for generators, petrol etc in the week of 13/9. 

‘I advised family and friends to do the same after checking with some people in government who said things like “usual nightmare PM farce”.’

Boris spectacularly delivered Brexit just as Theresa May spectacularly failed – but that was just the start of the hard work.

His desire to press on with a new woke agenda that would have horrified Boris the former newspaper columnist – an agenda that just so happens to be the one pushed by his new wife Carrie – at almost any cost has gone too far when a surgeon can’t even fill up their own damn car with a tank of petrol to get to the hospital where they work in the early hours of the morning.

We haven’t seen Boris in any significant way since his trip to the US last week where he was last spotted telling Kermit the Frog jokes at the United Nations, imploring other countries to follow our lead and prioritise a Net Zero agenda above domestic prosperity.

Well, any wavering leader, including allies like US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will take one look at the perilous state of the UK this week and conclude: Britain’s priorities are all wrong.

A transition from firebrand right-wing newspaper columnist who was a bit of a joke to internationalist environmental campaigner might be what Carrie plots for Boris during their nights in at Number 11, but it’s a silly pipe dream.

Boris’ bitter former adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured in July) said today it is ‘obvious that the government has failed to prepare for supply chain problems that we were discussing in May 2020’

As a Brexiteer Prime Minister, the onus was on Boris to PROVE that we can take advantage of our new status. That opportunity is being wasted.

It’s not like there hasn’t been enough time to see these various s***storms coming.

Almost all of it was as utterly predictable as the old Afghan government collapsing to the Taliban when the US stopped supporting it.

Energy prices were always going to rise once the globe’s economy cranked back up after Covid.

Fuel demand was always going to rise once the summer holidays ended and people finally started getting back to schools and offices after 18 months of WFH.

Independence from the EU should have put as at an advantage to combat the international shortage of HGV drivers that is also plaguing Germany, France, Italy, China and the US (not that BBC News will tell you that).

But so often in 2021 it’s the optics that matter. And images of mile-long queues of cars outside dry petrol stations, with physical fights and despair on full display at forecourts for the cameras, are a disaster.

Brexit was never about sending home all European workers; it was about giving us the opportunity to control what skills we require from new immigrants the world over. 

It’s been obvious that the need for HGV drivers has been overwhelming for months, so special programmes issuing appealing long-term visas should have been an urgent priority.

Labour’s diabolical conference this week proves Boris still has a chance to turn around this dire situation.

The Leader of No Opposition Keir Starmer and his potty mouthed deputy Angela Rayner despise each other so much they’re engaging in pathetic civil warfare as the country metaphorically burns.

The Leader of No Opposition Keir Starmer and his potty mouthed deputy Angela Rayner despise each other so much they’re engaging in pathetic civil warfare as the country metaphorically burns

But if the next few months do come close to a repeat of the Winter of Discontent all bets are off.

If social distancing, school closures, vaccine passports, mask mandates and the reintroduction of enforced lockdowns are added to skyrocketing energy bills, further fuel shortages, National Insurance increases, potential Council Tax rises, increasing inflation and empty supermarket shelves at Christmas voters might well have finally had enough.

The early onset of Covid-19 was an impossible situation for almost any western government, with the revolting Chinese Communist Party sitting back and laughing their heads off at what their little virus from Wuhan unleashed on the world.

But the excuses have got to end.

Boris must take back control of the agenda and prove to Britain that he has a stabilising plan to lead us back to permanent normality without another moment of dither or delay.

And without more desperate and destabilising queues forming anywhere else.

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