OPINION - The Standard View: Britain faces huge challenges – Boris Johnson must show he is the right person to lead

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 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Speaking ahead of his speech to Cabinet this morning, Boris Johnson vowed to “deliver on what the people of this country care about most”, pledging to deal with the significant backlog in the NHS. He is also expected to urge colleagues to do more to address the cost-of-living crisis, crime and levelling up.

The country faces huge challenges and fresh thinking is required. Johnson needs to seize the opportunity to show that he is the person to provide it.

In the hours following last night’s confidence vote, Cabinet ministers came out to bat for the Prime Minister, claiming his victory — albeit smaller in percentage terms than that secured by his predecessor Theresa May in 2018 — was a resounding one.

Few doubt he must work to convince his top team, the wider party and the country that he can lead them out of this unfortunate mess.

But if the vote has done anything positive it is to focus minds on the monumental task ahead. Now that yesterday’s vote is behind him, Johnson must now get on with the job and demonstrate he is able to grasp the opportunity.

He is not out of danger. Some of those colleagues in Cabinet will be weighing up their next move, closely watching how developments unfold over the coming weeks and months.

And the Prime Minister will face another challenge on June 23, this time from the public, as the Tories contest two by-elections. Both are in seats the party currently holds, both they are expected to lose.

That one is expected to fall to the Liberal Democrats while the other to Labour may be of greater concern to a Tory Party that fears a co-ordinated electoral approach by opposition parties.

Yet the Prime Minister can now seek to dispel the sense of chaos that has settled around No 10. The moment needs a coherent strategy that addresses the very real issues people are grappling with that get more serious by the day to be rapidly laid out. It is time for him to focus on the job.

Airlines must step up

Commercial air travel has never been a stress-free endeavour. Even pre-pandemic, there were queues, delays and ever-receding legroom. But the travel chaos of the last few days has taken this to new heights.

The cause is Covid, or rather the rapid rebound in air travel, one that seemed predictable to all except the airlines and airports themselves.

The UK travel sector made thousands of people redundant and is now racing to fill vacancies. But this takes time, with training and security checks new airport staff must pass, which can take months.

It is not as if passengers are enjoying bargain prices either. Even so-called low-cost airlines are prohibitively expensive. Many people have saved up for a half-term holiday, and cannot be expected to pay out of pocket for flights or accommodation as a result of a last-minute cancellation.

The airlines must live up to their responsibilities. If they cancel flights at short notice, they have a duty of care to passengers, particularly those left stranded abroad. The travelling public has a right to expect better.

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