Boris Johnson lost his place for 20 seconds before then rambling about Peppa Pig in a bizarre speech to business leaders in November 2021. He muttered “forgive me” three times and “blast it”. The Prime Minister also jokingly quoted Lenin, referred to himself as Moses, talked about how he used to scorn wind farms and electric cars, and impersonated an accelerating car saying: “Broom broom brah brah!”
Boris Johnson axed the pensions triple lock – U-turning on his 2019 manifesto – for one year from April 2022. He and many experts argued it had to go, to prevent a Covid-related statistical anomaly in earnings triggering an 8.3% rise. But inflation has since risen to about that level anyway leaving pensioners with a real-terms cut.
Boris Johnson said he had a plan for social care ‘prepared’ in his first speech as PM. But no such plan existed and a cap on lifetime costs was only announced more than two years later, taking effect from October 2023. The PM then outraged campaigners by tweaking the cap, so that poorer Brits couldn’t count money paid by their council towards the £86k limit.
Boris Johnson was accused of sowing chaos with confusing Covid rules on foreign travel which changed repeatedly, sometimes at a moment’s notice. At one point there were plans mooted to create an ‘amber watchlist’, a sixth category for the controversial traffic light system. It was dropped before its launch amid an outcry.
Boris Johnson’s madcap plan for a bridge to Northern Ireland cost the taxpayer almost a million pounds – although it was never built. A £900,000 study commissioned by the Prime Minister found a fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland would be too expensive.
Boris Johnson flew back from Glasgow’s COP26 climate summit by private jet to go for dinner at the men-only Garrick private members club. He went to a private engagement at the elite institution attended by Conservative peer and self-confessed climate change sceptic Lord Moore. Charles Moore was a supporter of Owen Paterson.
The PM ordered Tory MPs to rip up ethics rules and block a 30-day suspension of Owen Paterson for lobbying breaches. The vote passed, but more than 100 Conservatives refused to back the plans and Keir Starmer accused the government of corruption. He U-turned less than 24 hours later. Mr Paterson later resigned as a Tory MP.
Boris Johnson outraged the Tory faithful with plans to tear up the planning system and pump development into liberalised zones of towns and cities. While many welcomed reform, the pressure was too much to bear and the Housing Secretary was sacked. His replacement Michael Gove appears to have shelved the plans.
The PM removed an 18-month, £20-a-week Covid uplift in Universal Credit despite warnings it would plunge hundreds of thousands into poverty. While the benefit was made more generous for those working, there was nothing to help the out-of-work sick and disabled – and benefits’ value will fall by £12bn in real terms this year as a 3.1% rise is outstripped by inflation. The PM has refused repeated calls to update the way benefit rises are calculated.
Covid easily makes its own article – but more than 170,000 UK deaths are a good starting point. Experts say thousands more died than would have done if the PM had not dithered over lockdown for a week in March 2020. He boasted ‘I shook hands with everybody’ at a hospital, only attended his first COBRA meeting on March 2, and spent crucial weekends at Chequers getting engaged to girlfriend Carrie. Ex-aide Dominic Cummings has plenty of axes to grind, but has claimed the PM was consistently anti-lockdown, ignored scientific advice and failed to take Covid seriously. He also claimed the PM ranted “we should never have done lockdown 1”. “Tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die”, he said.