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Monday, July 4, 2022

You’re damaged Boris, it’s time to be bold and deliver

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AT a time of spiralling costs, with families having to make every penny count, the revelation that the often haphazard and prolonged Partygate police investigation cost nearly half a ­million pounds is jaw-dropping.

With high levels of anti-social behaviour and gang violence in so many of our major cities, at the same time I shudder to think of those neglected serious crimes over the last few months.

Boris Johnson has big challenges to meet ahead

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Boris Johnson has big challenges to meet aheadCredit: Getty
Sue Gray's report will be ­thorough, comprehensive and won’t pull any punches

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Sue Gray’s report will be ­thorough, comprehensive and won’t pull any punchesCredit: Steve Back

What went wrong in ­Downing Street with the casual rule-breaking was utterly appalling and there is no ­denying it.

Thrown together cheek by jowl to fight the pandemic, often for days at a time in Downing Street, it’s nonetheless astonishing that a collection of such supposedly intelligent people could so comprehensively fail to see that after bringing in such restrictive rules, they were breaking them.

The latest twist in this is that the police have finally brought their ­investigation to a close.

While announcing that their last set of fines took in a significant number of civil servants and political staff, they were clear the Prime Minister will not be fined a second time.

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This paves the way for the publication of the police-delayed Sue Gray report — which I am sure will be ­thorough, comprehensive and won’t pull any punches.

Yet I remain puzzled as to why it has taken the police four months — and such a lot of taxpayers’ money — to re- investigate what Sue Gray had already found out.

Whatever else, as this sorry saga draws to a close, it does teach the ­political class that those in glass houses should not throw stones.

Week after week, Sir Keir Starmer — enthusiastically ­followed by his deputy and others — hurled abuse at the Prime Minister for breaking the rules.

Then, after all sorts of ­fabricated Labour denials about who was there, Durham police announced they are re- investigating the Beergate party attended by Sir Keir and Angela Rayner during lockdown.

It’s not the whiff of curry that has caught the attention of the public but the whiff of hypocrisy in the political air.

None of that gets away from the clear fact that the British public have made up their minds and their anger was on full display at the ballot box recently. They expect better, and that is what they now deserve.

Boris will know this has damaged his reputation. His public apology and contrition, while necessary, will not by themselves change people’s opinions.

Having lost their trust, it is now for Boris to strive to earn back their trust and, eventually, their respect.

This will be a hard road but it is one that, if he puts his mind to it, he is uniquely suited to travel. A leadership crisis would be madness

For if the past two years are anything to go by, the PM comes into his own when he faces tough decisions.

His decision to support business and the poorest ­during the pandemic kept many afloat.

His decision that the UK should be the first country to get a Covid ­vaccine saved countless lives.

And his decision not to plunge the UK into a third damaging lockdown at Christmas, despite the doomster advice of some scientists, enabled the UK economy to grow faster than our competitors. Now we face another huge crisis — the spiralling cost of living.

While this spike is a global problem caused by post- pandemic demand for ­products outstripping supply, it is also due to Russian bully boy Vladimir Putin.

His brutal invasion of Ukraine has forced fuel ­prices to soar, stretching family budgets around the world to breaking point.

That is why it would be madness now, as the ­Partygate investigation closes, to be plunged into a leadership crisis, as some might wish for.

Surely we should put the country first and help ­families stretched by the cost of living to make ends meet.

That’s why Boris Johnson and his ­government must now act. He cannot allow the economy to slip into a ­damaging recession.

Our tax rate is too high, so Boris must now cut taxes on the squeezed middle while he increases support for the poorest.

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You cannot have the double whammy of high interest rates and high taxes — that’s a recipe for disaster for struggling families.

Addressing such crises is what we were brought into ­government to do, to make big decisions and nothing is bigger than this. Now Boris must be bold and brave and stand and deliver.

The PM's decision that the UK should be the first country to get a Covid ­vaccine saved countless lives

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The PM’s decision that the UK should be the first country to get a Covid ­vaccine saved countless livesCredit: Getty
Boris Johnson meeting Ukraine's President Zelensky

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Boris Johnson meeting Ukraine’s President ZelenskyCredit: EPA
Boris cannot allow the economy to slip into a ­damaging recession

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Boris cannot allow the economy to slip into a ­damaging recessionCredit: Handout
Former Conservative Party leader - Iain Duncan Smith

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Former Conservative Party leader – Iain Duncan SmithCredit: Alamy





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