Boris must beware of abandoning the middle classes

Why are we no longer the party of sound finances? It is irrefutable that we are coming to the end of the pandemic. More than 43 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – this is roughly 80 per cent of all adults in the country. Then on top of that layer of protection – 31 million of us have had a second dose and thus greater protection. Already, we have been able to enjoy greater freedoms than just one month ago, even if the final end of lockdown was delayed once more.

Reportedly, the Government is planning to end quarantine rules for those with the double dose of vaccine protection and other onerous and unnecessary restrictions on green list nations by August. This is only good news as, according to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the UK economy will lose £19.8 billion during July if we further delay the end of these travel restrictions. We should be taking advantage of our incredible vaccine success and easing back on restrictions that make less and less sense as every day we vaccinate more people.

However, even in this near-term decision I am concerned by the Government’s instincts and messaging. It is never presented in positive or clear terms but rather always vague statements that make no reference to hard data or clear milestones that must be reached. Then, lacking this clarity the Government seemingly defaults into maintaining restrictive measures without ever fully explaining why we cannot open up further. These decisions to delay “Freedom Day” are made even more strange by Ascot going ahead and plans for Wimbledon’s Centre Court to be at full capacity.

It is not just the Government continuing to delay the end of lockdown even as most figures would imply that we no longer need it. The UK’s national debt is once again climbing ever higher and the Government seems to have no plans to arrest its increase. It made sense for the Government to loosen its fiscal control during lockdown and the heights of the pandemic but we are on the road to recovery now. Yet, ministers appear to have no intention of scaling back on their crisis levels of spending. If anything, Boris Johnson wants to double down and increase spending even further, even as the economy clearly cannot cover his expenditure. He is morphing the Conservative Party into one of statist spending that is using money that does not exist.

So, what of his plans to try and recoup the losses that he will be accruing on his so-called “levelling-up” agenda? It will be tax rises and pension raids on the middle-classes – the Conservative Party’s grassroots support. Boris is in danger of abandoning the traditional values of the party: small government, low tax and free market possibilities in his mad scramble to appeal to the “Red Wall”.

There is no tangible proof that his plans will either help those in the North and Midlands, nor is there any proof that they even support his economic plans. He needs to remember that support can never be guaranteed. Voters are fickle and there is no requirement for Red Wall voters to continue to support the Conservatives – no matter the number of times the government talks about “levelling up”.

Boris is at risk of abandoning the values of core Tory voters – something that can and will lead to disaster. We lost Chesham and Amersham not because of any major resurgence from the Liberal Democrats, their further leftward turn cannot appeal to our core vote, but because thousands of Tory voters refused to support policies that they do not believe in and will actively harm them. In rejecting Conservatism – Boris is rejecting his voters.

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