The beginning of the end for Theresa May was when she tried to see if she could pass her Brexit deal with Labour votes. So Boris Johnson will have shifted uncomfortably in his seat on Tuesday night when it became clear that the House of Commons had approved his tier system only because the opposition had abstained, I say in the magazine this week.
The worry for Johnson is that the Tory rebellions against his Covid measures keep getting bigger. The original coronavirus act back in March passed without a vote. In September, seven Tories voted against the renewal of those emergency powers; 42 opposed the 10 p.m. curfew in October; and 53 were against the tier system this week. When parliament votes on renewing the tier system at the end of January, it is likely that Johnson will again have to rely on opposition acquiescence to pass the measures.
The consolation for Johnson is that there is now an end in sight to this pandemic. The positive vaccine news of recent weeks — 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in the UK in the coming days and the Oxford vaccine is expected to gain regulatory approval relatively soon — means that in the spring he should have a chance to repair relations with his MPs without Covid getting in the way. Indeed, there’s a good chance that by April he’ll be able to announce an end to all Covid restrictions.
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