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Paul on Politics: Operation Brock gone and should Boris stay away from the Olympics?

The decision by emergency planners to lift Operation Brock and restore the M20 to its normal two-way operation after a fortnight has been universally welcomed.

However, questions as to why it was implemented in the first place remains.

Catch up on last night's episode of Paul on Politics

The judgement was clearly finely balanced and it appears that after considering all the possible repercussions, there was a consensus that it was better to take a precautionary approach and put it in place rather than a wait-and-see approach.

The government would have factored into its calculations the political costs of being seen to have reacted too slowly had there been the kind of disruption and delays we have seen before.

One question is that there must have been some appreciation the restrictions on travel because of Covid-19 was likely to mean far less holiday traffic than is usual at this time of the year.

It was a short return for the scheme this time. Picture: Barry Goodwin
It was a short return for the scheme this time. Picture: Barry Goodwin

And so it proved.

In its announcement that it was to lift Operation Brock, Kent County Council said it was partly this reduction in holiday traffic that led to the decision.

And Highways England - which manages the scheme - said in a statement that “the flexibility of the barrier system means we can remove it and redeploy it at short notice in the event of any future Channel port disruption.”

Which begs the question that if the barrier can be put in place quickly, why not wait and see?

We suspect that the government preferred to take the flak for its precautionary approach, knowing that it would be damned if it did nothing and damned if it did. A classic case of realpolitik.

Grieg Baker has left the Conservative party
Grieg Baker has left the Conservative party

Vaccine vacillation. On his own admission, Greig Baker is not a well-known politician outside of Kent (and perhaps not even inside) but the former chairman of the Canterbury Conservative Association has caused a few ripples this week.

He said he was quitting the party because he fundamentally disagreed with the direction in which the government was heading. In particular, he focused on his unease at the party’s plans for vaccine passports.

In fairly blunt language, he wrote: “I am enormously proud to have been a Conservative member for the past 20 years, but I just can’t do it anymore. The threat of vaccine passports is the straw that is breaking this camel’s back.”

While praising the party for some of its achievements, he says: “I can’t be a member of a party that makes people’s lives conditional on medical status from now on, or even just threatening to do so, is not what I thought Conservatism was all about.”

“I don’t want a vaccine passport and I don’t want anyone else to be coerced into having one either.”

His is not a lone voice. Plenty of rank and file party members share this disquiet, not because they are ‘anti-vaxers’ but because it undermines the core Conservative principles of civil liberties and the right to choose.

This has echoes of a similar debate within the party over whether to introduce ID cards. The legislation to bring in the scheme was repealed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2011.

It's been a great Olympics got Team GB so far. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
It's been a great Olympics got Team GB so far. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Will there be an Olympic bounce for Boris Johnson? As Team GB racks up medals, it is always tempting for politicians to associate themselves with sporting success.

Boris certainly knows that feeling after the successful delivery of the London games in 2012, confounding the doom-mongers who said it would be a costly disaster.

But before he gets carried away, it’s worth remembering the chorus of boos that greeted Chancellor George Osborne when he gave out medals at the paralympics in 2012 and a similarly hostile response to Davd Cameron when he did the same at a medal ceremony in the aquatics centre.

At least Boris won’t be making a trip to Tokyo, thanks to Covd-19.

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