Boris Johnson has just resigned – forced out by the sheer number of resignations, leaving him without a government. He came into office promising to deliver Brexit. He pledged taxes would be frozen and the size of government would shrink. Everything was of course overtaken by Covid. Here’s a look at his premiership in charts and numbers.
Boris is currently the 34th longest serving prime minister, having just today drawn level with Neville Chamberlain. He wants to stay on until party conference season in October – as it stands he’s 30 days behind Theresa May.
The PM’s downfall was brought about after a record number of resignations. Since Tuesday over 100 cabinet secretaries, ministers and PPSs have resigned. On Wednesday alone some 50 MPs resigned from ministerial and party positions – the most in a single day since the 1930s.
Whatever Boris planned for the country when he deposed Theresa May just three years ago, his premiership will be defined by the Covid crisis. Unprecedented restrictions on liberty and freedom were put on the population by a ‘freedom loving’ conservative who once said he would ‘eat’ his ID card if they were rolled out. That soon changed though – thanks to aggressive lobbying from his scientific advisors – and during the second lockdown Britain had the harshest restrictions in Europe.
After the vaccine – and pressure from the more hawkish cabinet ministers – Boris regained some of his liberal credentials and led Europe in a reopening and shift to living with Covid that has ultimately paid off. The Prime Minister faced heavy opposition to this, not least from the Labour party who called for ever-stronger restrictions. For much of the pandemic it was claimed Britain had the ‘highest deaths in the world’ partly as a result of his Covid policies. But that proved wrong. When you look at excess deaths over the whole of the pandemic, Britain performed relatively well compared with other developed countries – as the below graph shows.
All of this – furlough, the vaccine race, business bailouts – had to be paid for and Boris was not a man prepared to rein in spending elsewhere. Instead he borrowed at a record rate and hiked taxes to a level not seen since the second world war.
Public debt has increased to the highest amount of any modern prime minister. Boris borrowed some £596 billion – nearly £100 billion more than the loans Gordon Brown took out after the financial crisis.
Who comes next? In the month since the first confidence vote Jeremy Hunt emerged as the bookies’ favourite for next Tory leader. Since then the markets have flooded with bets and the runners and riders are moving fast. At the moment Penny Mordaunt is the favourite with a 22 per cent implied chance of becoming leader. You can track the odds movement live on The Spectator’s datahub.
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