As parliament returns, Boris Johnson’s government faces a set of challenges it is woefully ill-equipped to meet
In a cringeworthy social media stunt before the last election, Boris Johnson mimicked the famous cue-card sequence in the film Love Actually, itself a parody of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues video. The prime minister’s scrawled series of messages conveyed the ultimately winning trope of “get Brexit done”. As parliament returns on Tuesday, and the nation braces for what is likely to be an autumn of considerable discontent, words from another Dylan classic, My Back Pages, seem to sum up Mr Johnson’s current situation: “My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow.”
The now notorious sequence of Covid-related U-turns performed by the government reflects a chronic lack of planning and foresight. Failing to reconcile the twin priorities of safeguarding public health and protecting the economy, ministers have vacillated, prevaricated and lurched first in one direction and then the other. As the days begin to shorten, the sky is turning dark with chickens coming home to roost.