Johnson has mismanaged Covid, Brexit and the economy. Now his inner circle is falling out

Londra The UK is deep in its second wave of Covid-19 at the same time as Brexit enters its final act. This might seem enough to keep its leadership occupied.

But the government of Boris Johnson is now engulfed in a political power struggle that is very publicly playing out on the newspaper front pagesand could, some Conservatives hope, signal a shift in influence on the Prime Minister.
The political storm surrounding Johnson and his team of advisers broke on the same day that the UK’s coronavirus death toll passed the eyewatering 50,000 figura.
Poco dopo 9 p.m. ora locale mercoledì, Johnson’s political advisers briefed Westminster journalists that Lee Cain, the Prime Minister’s director of communications and one of his closest political allies, had resigned from his job. Downing Street had spent the day fielding complaints from Conservative lawmakers who were alarmed at news reports suggesting that Cain was set to be promoted to Johnson’s chief of staff.
    UK media reports also cited sources suggesting that Johnson’s fiancee, former Conservative director of communications Carrie Symonds, was opposed to Cain’s promotion.
    Conservative MPs believe that the story was leaked as part of a power grab by Cummings in order to pressure the PM into giving Cain the job.
    It seems clear to me that they tried to bounce Boris into making Cain his chief of staff by leaking it to the media. But none of us wanted that and we are sick of not being listened to,” a former cabinet minister told CNN. “We have had enough Cummings, Cain and the damage they are doing to our party. So yesterday we made sure Boris understood that via the chief whip.
    That backlash appeared to have the desired effect and, after meeting with the Prime Minister, Cain resigned.
    It has been a privilege to work as an adviser for Mr Johnson for the last three yearsbeing part of a team that helped him win the Tory leadership contest, secure the largest Conservative majority for three decadesand it was an honour to be asked to serve as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff,” Cain said in a statement.
    Johnson said he wanted tothank Lee for his extraordinary service to the government over the last four years. He has been a true ally and friend.
    Former journalist Allegra Stratton has been hired as the Prime Minister's press secretary.

    Così, what happened to these close friends? There had been speculation that Cain was upset by Johnson’s decision to hire a new press secretary, Allegra Stratton, to front the soon-to-start daily Downing Street briefings. Stratton is not only a high-profile former journalist, but most recently worked as an adviser to Rishi Sunak, Johnson’s finance minister.
    Downing Street sources told CNN that while Cain was in favor of hiring Stratton, his real gripe was that he wanted her to report to him. She will instead report directly to Johnson, effectively sidelining the director of communications.
    The British government is entrenched in bitter factionalism. There are too many camps to list, but a core disagreement exists between team Sunak and team Cummingsespecially when it comes to the handling of the pandemic.
    Sunak’s team wants to avoid lockdowns wherever possible in order to hasten the economic recovery; Cummings is more comfortable with lockdowns. And for what it’s worth, more Conservatives who sit in Parliament favor the Sunak approach.
    tuttavia, Johnson’s government has operated an unusually centralized approach to governing, which has irked many former allies during the coronavirus crisis. This has meant that Cummings, in the eyes of Conservative lawmakers, has won his battles more often than not.
    Nel frattempo, the UK economy is struggling to recover from the effects of restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic. Amid a soaring second wave of coronavirus cases, England entered a second, month-long national lockdown on November 5. Strict measures have also been imposed in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in recent weeks.
    The Bank of England last week warned of a double-dip recession because of the pandemic and an uncertain outlook because of Brexit. The central bank expects the economy to shrink by 2% nel quarto trimestre, e da 11% nel 2020.
    Dominic Cummings, sinistra, and Lee Cain, destra, attend a press conference by Boris Johnson in December 2019 in Watford, Inghilterra.

    The appointment of Stratton and perceived sidelining of Cain would count as one of the most significant internal battles that Cummings would have lost since entering Downing Street last year.
    Conservative MPs have been alarmed at Johnson’s loyalty to Cummings, despite various scandals surrounding the adviser, the most famous of which came when Cummings drove hundreds of miles from London with his wife and child after having Covid-19 symptoms while the country was in a national lockdown.
    Despite the furor, Cummings did not resign and was not sacked. His activities were investigated by the police, but he faced no action. Johnson stood by Cummings despite the impact of the scandal on public trust.
    Advisers usually take the bullet for the PM, not the other way around. Boris nearly killed his career defending Cummings during lockdown,” said a senior Conservative MP. “Boris does not seem to realize how much damage Cummings is doing him.
    The Cain row appears to have given hope to those who would like Johnson to stop listening to Cummings quite so often in all areas of policy, which of course has implications beyond the UK’s pandemic response.
    Cain was a key part of the Vote Leave team which followed Johnson into Downing Street, having successfully campaigned for UK voters to reject EU membership in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Johnson’s willingness to shed such an ally has led to some No 10 staff wondering if this indicates a broader loosening of the Vote Leave grip on Johnson.
    I think something bigger is going on with the EU deal,” said one Downing Street insider, referencing the ongoing Brexit negotiations which are approaching their end. The insider suggested a concession from London might be on the cards.
    The UK government is still locked in talks with Brussels with less than two months before the scheduled conclusion of the Brexit transition period a dicembre 31, 2020.
      As things stand on Brexit, a concession from London would be the simplest route to a breakthrough that would lead to a deal.
      In entrambi i casi, the political focus in London has shifted in just a few days from the implications of a Joe Biden presidency and what that might mean for Johnson to the inner court of Johnson and what it all means for Brexit. Quale, the British public might reasonably ask, might not be entirely appropriate during a pandemic.

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