THE Conservative Party’s stunning 2019 election victory – less than 20 months ago – is today a forlorn and distant memory.
Boris Johnson’s government is wallowing and adrift.
“The lights may be on in Downing Street,” says a worried Tory MP, “but there’s nobody at home.”
A senior Cabinet loyalist puts it more bluntly: “Nobody knows who ‘Downing Street’ is any more. Who speaks for No 10?”
The days when press secretaries Bernard Ingham or Alastair Campbell could act with unchallenged authority on behalf of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair have long gone.
Instead, we have a vacuum that is filled by endless leaks, with rows over half-baked policy ideas all played out in public.
If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
Even among those ready to die in a ditch for Boris, there are growing doubts about his ability to lead.
The row over his broken election tax promises is just the latest of many skirmishes in a power struggle under way at the highest levels of government.
There are rumours of a crisis Cabinet reshuffle as early as Thursday, with heavyweights already “on manoeuvres”.
Ever-restless Michael Gove has his eyes on the Foreign Office as the knives come out for Dominic Raab.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the new Tory darling and Boris’s biggest rival, is jostling with new Health supremo Sajid Javid, a close pal of the PM’s wife Carrie.
“The problem is the Health Secretary wants the Chancellor’s job and the Chancellor wants to be PM,” says a close observer.
The result is a government rudderless and adrift as Britain emerges in confusion from Covid.
TERRIFIED BY UNIONS
Eighty per cent of adults are now double-jabbed. Freedom day has come and gone. Yet cities across the country — from Leeds to London, Nottingham to Newcastle — resemble ghost towns as millions continue to work from home.
Shockingly, the Treasury and pathetic new Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey have told staff to stay at home as long as they like.
Downing Street, terrified by the unions, refuses to order millions of civil servants back to their empty offices.
Encouraged by this paralysis, many now threaten legal action against employers ordering them back to their desks.
Nobody seems to be doing the job they are paid for.
Some GPs are scandalously refusing to see patients face to face, putting lives at risk.
Airports are in chaos as Border Force gives up the ghost and thousands of illegal migrants pour unchecked across the Channel with zero prospect of ever being deported.
Just try booking an HGV driving test, ordering a new passport or talking to your local council.
Everyone’s working from home or in quarantine after being pinged.
Why? The answer is that power now rests not in Downing Street but with the union barons.
Public sector militants decide whether six million workers return to the office or WFH.
The shambles over jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds, for example, is a blatant sop to strike-happy teachers.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation says the jabs are unnecessary and potentially risky. Just two in a million children become seriously ill from Covid.
The only reason for jabbing kids is to protect those who refuse to have the jabs themselves, especially teachers.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is expected to approve the plan this week — yet he is known to have expressed serious personal misgivings.
Amid this chaos, Britain faces a predicted winter-flu crisis made more severe by a lockdown-induced drop in immunity.
Will our NHS nervous nellies accept a re-run of winters past, with patients queuing in hospital corridors or ambulances — or clamour for yet another lockdown?
With Boris already demanding an extension of his draconian emergency powers legislation for another two years, the answer is clear.
Thanks to Downing Street defeatism, lockdowns, facemasks and social distancing are now a popular way of life, despite the horrifying cost to physical and mental health.
A couple of weeks ago, I urged Boris to rip off his shirt, burst on to our TV screens with a call for Action This Day and reveal his “inner Winston Churchill”.
The risk is that voters would see just an empty suit.