Analysis: Boris Johnson on a roll ahead of party conference but how will it end?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson  (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA Wire)

Monday, jabs for children.

Tuesday, Covid winter plan and booster doses.

Wednesday, reshuffle.

MPs could be forgiven for feeling politically punch-drunk.

But Boris Johnson is on a roll, righting the ship of Government after the summer chaos as Britain and the US were caught off guard as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan to seize power in Kabul.

Dominic Raab paid the price for this, being axed as Foreign Secretary.

Williamson, Jenrick, Buckland and Milling are also all out as Mr Johnson firmly stamped his authority on the Cabinet, his party and the Government.

And at Prime Minister’s Questions, he marched onto Labour territory, claiming the Tories were now the party of the NHS, though, after a £36 billion National Insurance and dividends’ levy rise sends the tax burden on the nation towards the highest ever-sustained level, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Tory MPs could be forgiven for feeling confused.

Many of them were cowed, by the dangling of the reshuffle, into not rebelling against the tax rise or the axing of the £20 a week boost to Universal Credit, a cut which some fear will turn out to be a Poll Tax Mark II.

So, a bullish Mr Johnson has steered his party into unchartered tax-and-spend waters, shaking up the political kaleidoscope.

Tory MPs are wondering how the pieces fall back into place.

Their hope is a revitalised Government strengthens the Tory grip on Labour’s previous “Red Wall” seats, with Sir Keir Starmer’s lawyerly leadership failing to connect with voters in these constituencies, and that the Chesham and Amersham by-election loss was a blip, not to be repeated after controversial planning reforms are buried.

Their fear, though, is that the billions of pounds of extra investment in the NHS and to tackle the social care crisis will not fix it or avoid waiting lists still running into the millions at the next election, expected in 2024, with the nation’s crippled public finances being a drag anchor on more prosperous times.

Disquiet on the Tory benches will be washed over by Mr Johnson’s momentum after his flurry of announcements.

They are being made at a pace impossible to maintain.

Reshuffles also tend to create more enemies than friends for the PM, mainly as so many MPs feel they have been looked over for promotion.

But Mr Johnson enters the often frenzied party conference season solidly at the helm of his party, with Sir Keir having to convince many of the Labour faithful that he can lead them out of the wilderness after the Corbyn years.

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