Home   Kent   News   Article

The dilemma over Christmas facing the Prime Minister

Whatever else Margaret Thatcher might have achieved as one of the longest serving Prime Ministers we have had, she is still remembered by some as the politician who took away free milk for primary school children.

The decision to do so led to the playground taunt “ Thatcher the milk snatcher” - and it is a phrase that has endured for several decades.

Is Boris worried about becoming The Grinch who stole Christmas? Picture: Steve Crispe
Is Boris worried about becoming The Grinch who stole Christmas? Picture: Steve Crispe

It may also be remembered by Boris Johnson, who is big on political history and appears resolutely determined to evade being defined as the political Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

He is balanced on a taut political tightrope, treading warily towards the end of a second national lockdown and knowing that even if it does get to the other side, he can expect to be buffeted by more stormy weather.

When it comes to deciding whether to ease the various restrictions under the tier system, will he stick or twist? The price of relaxing the conditions, according to the government medical experts, is that for every day that restrictions are lifted, there will need to be a five day period in which those restrictions will have to be reimposed.

Crucial in the government’s eventual judgement is perhaps that many will ignore the rule on social gatherings in any case. But while many would welcome some respite from living under lockdown, not many would relish a hangover in the form of 25 days of tighter restrictions.

Corona recovery

The Conservative MPs who have formed a group opposed to lockdown believes the restrictions are too harsh have rather been blindsided by figures that indicate cases of the coronavirus have risen in many areas despite the national lockdown. In Kent, there is some irony in in the fact that the two areas which have seen steadily rising numbers are Thanet and Swale.

The MPs for these two areas - Craig Mackinlay and Gordon Henderson - are both members of the backbench Corona Recovery group.

Craig Mackinlay and Gordon Henderson both voted against a second lockdown
Craig Mackinlay and Gordon Henderson both voted against a second lockdown

Mr Henderson says he is disappointed and dismayed by the increase and suggests that one of the reasons for the increase could be levels of deprivation in his constituency, pointing out that the rise in cases in Swale is mirrored in Medway and Thanet, which also have some of the highest deprivation levels in Kent.


The quest for sites in Kent to carry out mass vaccinations is underway.

It raises the intriguing possibility that if Brexit goes off smoothly, the county might have some ‘oven-ready’ locations in the form of the lorry park sites that have been earmarked to hold HGVs in the event of disruption and delays en route to the Channel Ports.

The operational factors that might come into play, however, would be a serious logistical challenge to put it mildly.

Virtual debates

There have been plenty of u-turns by the government and there has been another this week, for which the Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch can take the credit for.

Tracey Crouch has called on parliament to allow MPs to attend meetings virtually
Tracey Crouch has called on parliament to allow MPs to attend meetings virtually

The MP is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and raised the issue of her inability to contribute to debates in the House of Commons because the authorities had ended arrangements for members to participate virtually.

They can question ministers by video link, but are unable to contribute to general debates on legislation or events in Westminster Hall - a separate chamber.

Having ruled out the possibility of reviewing the arrangement for virtual debate, the leader of the house Jacob Rees-Mogg has backtracked and announced that he was urgently looking at options which would enable MPs to contribute more fully.

Boris' head in the clouds

You couldn’t ever say that The Prime Minister lacks ambition and doesn't have an instinct for the eye-catching policy proposal.

His announcement on a hefty increase in the budget for Defence spending incorporated a plan to send a rocket into space by 2022.

Maybe some would question this as a priority, especially public sector workers who were told they are likely to have to pay the price for dealing with the flu pandemic with a pay freeze.

Still, if Boris can pull off the rocket plan off and boldly go where no man has gone before, his political legacy could be marked by crossing the final frontier rather than being the Prime Minister who cancelled Christmas.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More