Weathering the storm
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Britons have a love-hate relationship with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They threw their weight behind their skipper and cheered when he deftly steered the nation through the choppy waters of Brexit. They breathed a sigh of relief when he re-appeared in public after his chilling encounter with the invisible slayer, Coronavirus. But the bonhomie didn’t last long when the tables were turned against him thanks to the faux pas of his trusted aide, Dominic Cummings.
After his close shave with Covid-19, Johnson’s biggest predicament came in the form of his chief advisor Cummings. All hell broke loose and Britons were fuming when news surfaced of Cummings’ trip to Durham with his wife, who was supposedly ill, and child during the lockdown. With none other than the PM’s adviser flouting rules, the public was in no mood to forgive. Brickbats came flying when Johnson chose to brush aside the unfortunate episode as a peccadillo by weighing it with the pandemic that has given the nation an icy, stifling embrace.
But yet again, the PM has proved his mettle as a bold leader by managing to weather the ‘Cummings storm’. Signals from 10 Downing Street indicate that the nation needs to move on amidst this global catastrophe by setting aside controversies. Gauging the pulse of the people, he has managed to prevent the cauldron of public ire from boiling over by announcing lockdown relaxations in the last week of May.
In a Downing Street briefing, he announced the much-awaited glad tidings – groups of up to six persons from different families will be allowed to meet outside, provided they keep a distance of two metres. By giving the nod for picnics and barbecues, one of the national favourites, albeit with greater emphasis on hand sanitisers and personal hygiene, once again frowns have slowly given way to smiles. Rather than tightly enforce curbs, he has chosen to place trust on the public, allowing them to socialise responsibly, showing that he cares for the aspirations of his people. His benignant streak became evident recently when he surprised a six-year-old Welsh boy with a letter of thanks in return for his get-well message while battling the virus.
To a certain extent, experts feel that Johnson has been able to do some damage control with regard to the downward spiral of his ratings triggered by his aide’s misdemeanour with his decision to ease the lockdown. Amidst the controversy, the small, but significant, strides made by the Boris Johnson government in the fight against Covid shouldn’t go unnoticed. A recent BBC report states the UK has exceeded its target to increase Covid-19 testing to 2000,000 a day by the end of May. It says the country is in a position to conduct 40,000 antibody tests a day. This is nothing short of a small, but significant, step in the fight against Covid-19. The Financial Times had reported early in May about a likely financial crisis in the country as Covid-19 could send the economy hurtling down into a deep recession. The Prime Minister’s far-sighted measures to restore normalcy will go a long way in providing hope to people who see doom and gloom in these testing times. The lifting of restrictions by opening some shops and dental practices this month and the likely opening of pubs and restaurants in July are expected to buttress the economy in the long run. Now, Johnson has to tread cautiously and keep up the good fight.