Conservative Party anger over Government U-turns

Boris Johnson has overseen several government U-turns.
Source: Arno Mikkor, via. Wikimedia Commons.
Several government U-turns have resulted in changes to exam grades and the provision of face masks in schools, as well as the length of quarantine periods. 

By Morgan Perry | Political Editor

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure from backbench Conservative MPs over the Government’s repeated policy U-turns. 

Several government U-turns have resulted in changes to exam grades and the provision of face masks in schools, as well as the length of quarantine periods. 

It has been reported that Mr Johnson is now seeking to prevent any further disdain on the backbenches as MPs returned to Westminster this week. 

Some of the most vocal critics come from the party’s 1922 Committee, a group that represents Conservative backbench MPs. The group was instrumental in attempting to oust former party leader Theresa May.  

The MP for Bexhill and Battle, Huw Merriman described the situation as “a megadisaster from one day to the next”, with many MPs also demanding additional reassurances that there aren’t more U-turns to come. 

12, soon-to-be-fatal, U-turns?

The Government has so far overseen a total of 12 U-turns in key policy areas since March, and the repeated flip-flopping was a central theme in the first gatherings of the new parliamentary session at Westminster this week. 

“We don’t want to have this thing where the man from Whitehall knows best … especially when he changes his mind every two minutes” said Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh. 

One of the biggest was the Government’s decision to U-turn on the issuing of A-level and GCSE results. 

Gavin Williamson was responsible for one of the government's U-turns.
Gavin Williamson (Source: U.S. Secretary of Defense, via. Wikimedia Commons).

Some days earlier, the education minister, Gavin Williamson, had warned that there would be no going back on the decision to use a controversial algorithm to decide students’ final grades.

A further educational U-turn was made just days before schools were due to re-open, with the Government issuing fresh guidance over the use of face coverings in schools in England. 

The news of a potential internal Conservative Party struggle came in the same week that the Government encouraged workers to return to their city offices. 

The pressure comes despite reports that 70 to 60 percent of civil servants are still working from home.  

The Government is expected to continue a large-scale publicity campaign to encourage workers to make the move back to offices after several months of home working. 

“Turbulence ahead”

The Prime Minister warned that there is “still going to be some turbulence ahead and of course things are still going to be difficult on the economic front”, foreshadowing additional financial difficulty to come.

The UK economy entered recession earlier this summer, following two quarters of negative growth. 

There are additional concerns that many more may lose their jobs when the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme ends in October. 

“Calmer days, brighter days and calmer seas ahead of us” promised Mr Johnson. The Prime Minister’s own brighter days as leader of the Conservative Party, however, will be dependent on whether he can win back the trust of some of his own MPs. 

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.

Politics Morgan Perry

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