You cannot switch on the news without journalists or politicians arguing, usually against, the actions of the Prime Minister’s special adviser. And whilst this has led to a slump, not only in support for Boris Johnson, but also in confidence in the government, we cannot let Mr Cummings’ 260-mile journey divert attention from the fight against coronavirus.
Unfortunately, around forty Conservative members of parliament, many of whom are inundated with angry emails, have expressed the desire to remove Dominic Cummings from his position in Number 10. But if they think the toppling of Mr Cummings is integral to re-election in 2024 then they are mistaken.
The Tory Party’s victory last December means a defeat in the next election would be ‘unprecedented’. However, as the past few years have shown, nothing is certain in British politics. When Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was Prime Minister support for the Conservatives varied from half of the electorate to a dismal 19%. Brexit was the catalyst for such instability, and coronavirus, like Brexit, has the ability to cause erratic variations in the opinion polls.
Nonetheless, rather than bickering on the movements of the Prime Minister’s special adviser, Conservative dissenters should fixate their efforts on ensuring a clear path to economic recovery. If this government fails to inject the British economy with what is needed to provoke growth, then the anger exhibited towards Cummings’ decision will appear minuscule to what can be expected in recession hit Britain.
Consequently, once the virus is abated, the Prime Minister should quickly de-assemble the levels of state intervention previously required. Currently, the government has the costly task of paying the wages of one in four Britons under the furlough scheme. This intervention was what was needed at the start of the pandemic, but it will not propel Britain to the sunlit uplands that the roaring twenties could be.
Boris Johnson has taken the first few steps to support the economy. In June, the lockdown will be loosened further and whilst this will not be a return to normalcy, the measure will facilitate economic activity.
Key to the road to economic recovery is ensuring Britain’s departure from the pillars of the European Union. Therefore, it is imperative for the United Kingdom to reject a bad deal for Britain. Any deal that places this country in a straitjacket, particularly in the form of an inability to control our fishing waters, or at Brussels’ persistence to abide by a level-playing field.
It is equally as important that the UK negotiating team reject any demand to extend trade talks with the European Union. Michel Barnier has already called upon opposition parties in Westminster to rally around an extension, however, the repercussions of this would be disastrous.
The action taken by Dominic Cummings and his family will be all but irrelevant if, in the next four years, the Tories can limit the economic damage. I just hope that dissenting MPs recognise this, fixate their efforts on navigating Britain’s road to recovery and end the debate on the whereabouts of one of the most controversial appointments to Number 10.
By J Walters