Connect with us

Politics

Boris Johnson’s failures as prime minister

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation has instigated a leadership contest. But as he leaves 10 Downing Street, Johnson’s time in power leaves behind stark questions on his role as leader of the country.

Published

on

Boris Johnson

Less than three years in office and a string of scandals later, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as Conservative party leader. He will continue on as prime minister until October, he says, but others predict the former Mayor of London may be gone sooner, with the Opposition pledging to remove him as they fear “chaos” in his interim period.

But now, as Johnson’s time in 10 Downing Street comes to an end, questions surrounding his time as commander-in-chief are magnifying. As he grappled onto power whilst being hit by the largest number of Tory MP resignations in British prime ministerial history, his eagerness to carry on was evident. Despite severe backlash even from former loyalists within his own cabinet, he laid bare an attitude of contempt for the role an 80-seat majority in 2019 brought him into.

Boris Johnson

His leadership failures

Alexandra Meakin, an academic from the University of Leeds in the UK spoke of his failures in leadership.

“Johnson’s time in office is ending as it started, with chaos and breaking conventions. From the illegal prorogation of parliament to the pandemic, it has been a tumultuous three years in UK politics,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Johnson’s time in office is ending as it started, with chaos and breaking conventions. From the illegal prorogation of parliament to the pandemic, it has been a tumultuous three years in UK politics”

Alexandra Meakin

She added that his tenure had caused the British public to lose trust in “their governing system”.

A snap poll conducted by YouGov hours after former Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak announced their resignations, revealed that of 3,000 British adults surveyed, 69% wanted Boris Johnson to resign.

Much of the voting public seemed to be very demoralised by Johnson’s approach to the office, even those who voted for him, calling into question the value of the democratic right to choose a leader.

Looking back on his time in power, Boris Johnson presided over a significantly high COVID-19 death toll.

By mid 2021, it totalled nearly 128,000 deaths, by which point it recorded the fifth highest death count. This was in spite of an estimated UK COVID-19 death count of 20,000, predicted at the start of the pandemic. Although the UK’s ability to record deaths and also count deaths occurring within 28 days of a positive test may have added to the total count, the report, ‘Coronavirus: lessons learnt to date’, questioned the democratic process under Johnson’s government in the face of the pandemic.

It stated that “it was surprising that the initially fatalistic assumptions about the impossibility of suppressing the virus were not challenged until it became clear the NHS could be overwhelmed”.

Revelations emerged supporting this.

Insider claims transpired that Boris Johnson had remarked “let the bodies pile high” as he reluctantly agreed to a circuit breaker lockdown last November. In the backdrop, reports came to light that ‘Do Not Resuscitate Orders’ were illegally given to learning disabled COVID-19 patients, in breaches of rights granted under the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2010. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported six out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths were of disabled people in 2020.

Earlier this year, the high court ruled that the government’s policy allowing care home COVID-19 care home residents to be discharged from hospitals without testing was illegal.

Now, as Johnson leaves office, an inquiry into the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 is ongoing.

But Boris Johnson’s failures in leading Britain extend to other areas.

10 Downing Street’s ‘Partygate’ scandal, which saw five government aides resign, including head of policy and loyalist to Johnson, Munira Mirza, weighed heavily on Johnson’s reputation. Following the government’s distractions and refusals, a report publishing findings by senior civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation into the string of illegal parties, concluded that the senior leadership’s actions “fell short” of standards expected by the public.

Amid this, the UK government also failed to grapple with the cost-of-living crisis. As demand for gas and oil increases whilst economies recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and shortages occur due to the war in Ukraine, energy bills are expected to rise to more than £3,300 this winter.

Craig Lowery, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, which provides energy market intelligence and analysis, warned that households could be plunged into deeper poverty in the coming months.

“As the energy market continues to grapple with global political and economic uncertainty, the corresponding high wholesale prices and the UK’s continued reliance on energy imports has once again seen predictions for the domestic consumer default tariff cap to rise to what are even more unaffordable levels,” he told The Guardian.

The UK government announced a 25% windfall tax, a one-off tax on companies, to prevent oil and gas producers from profiteering from high demand. But this followed an initial reluctance and the prime minister’s admittance that the government had not done enough to help those struggling. Meanwhile, ONS data reveal that the UK’s inflation rate is at 91%, the highest it has been in 40 years.

But Brexit, which saw Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, forced out of government and paved his way in, displayed another dimension of failings in his tenure. Half a year after the 2019 general election that saw him gain a landslide victory, the prime minister admitted to dishonesty in their withdrawal agreement with the EU, as the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, informed the House of Commons that the government would “break international law” in “limited and specific ways” as it planned to introduce a new Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

The EU and Northern Ireland staunchly opposed the drafted bill, which sees the government make unilateral changes to the original Northern Ireland Protocol within the withdrawal agreement between Britain and EU. The protocol, a necessary post-Brexit trading agreement, allows for the transport of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which abides by EU rules for food from non-EU countries, without a need for a hard border that could cause political instability within the Island of Ireland.

But the new bill, if made law, would see goods split into a green lane, for those going into Northern Ireland unchecked, and a red lane, for those going into Ireland and the EU and requiring checking.

The move would mean placing a border in the Irish Sea and contradicts Johnson’s election promise not to impose checks on goods going into or from Northern Ireland.

Rule breaking, broken promises and U-turns mark Boris Johnson’s three-year tenure. In comparison to other leaders, his time in charge is described by some as a career-furthering endeavour. A look at other prime ministers and presidents could show how much the UK’s outgoing prime minister should have learnt from his counterparts.

What Johnson can learn from others

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s, popularity has fallen since the Covid-19 pandemic. But since her election in 2017, then New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than 50 years, displayed an approach to her role that put people first. Two years after taking office, Ardern’s government introduced the Wellbeing Budget to address issues of healthcare, poverty, and domestic and sexual violence. The budget, commended by economic experts, indicated Ardern’s focus on improving the country’s economy with the interests of its workforce in mind.

In Covid-19 policy, the outgoing UK prime minister could have learnt from Canada’s swift and successful response. Research conducted by the University of Toronto concluded the country’s handling of the pandemic was better than most other G10 countries in the first two years. Recording less than 1000 deaths related to the disease per million population, Canada’s consistent response meant it fared better than others.

The UK now enters its transition period, and 6 candidates vie for the role of prime minister. Who respects the role, only time will tell but a turbulent era, which ended with revelations that the prime minister knowingly appointed alleged sexual predator Chris Pincher, has drawn greater attention to this.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

+ posts

Daily Brief

China Threatens Consequences if Pelosi Visits Taiwan

Published

on

800px Nancy Pelosi 47998984512
  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed inTaiwan. Prior to the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry has voiced their disapproval, stating that “China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in response  that “The speaker will make her own decisions about whether or not to visit Taiwan,” and that the US is looking to Beijing to “act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
  • The US has made it clear that members of Congress routinely visit Taiwan and that this trip is non-threatening and has precedent. Even so, some officials have expressed concern that China may invade Taiwan’s air defense zone or send missiles near Taiwan in retaliation.
  • Pelosi has criticized China’s leadership and vocalized support for Taiwan in the past. She is currently on her tour of Asia, with scheduled visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

Published

on

Odesa pristav
  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Economics

‘Don’t forget them’: millions of Afghans face hunger, economic crisis 

International aid workers share stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet

Published

on

millions-of-afghans-face-hunger-economic-crisis

“Winter is coming.”

That’s how Ammar Ammar, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, describes the situation in Afghanistan. The current hunger crisis, the result of a collapsing economy and drought, will only get worse if the country doesn’t get help, he says, especially in the colder months when people also have to stay warm.

“It’s not Game of Thrones here, it’s reality.”

Almost a year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the world has become silent about the plight of the country and its people, who are facing one of their worst humanitarian and economic crisis in decades.

After the fall of Kabul, the international community declined to recognize the Taliban regime. Countries paused foreign aid and imposed sanctions. The United States also froze billions in Afghan state assets.

A country that had become reliant on external aid was left on its own. In the process, millions of Afghans were abandoned, too.

On a recent lunch break in Kabul, Ammar saw two girls, one about six years old and the other about three. One of them was lying down on the sidewalk, while the other was squatting next to a big nylon bag. They’d been collecting pieces of scrap metal on the streets to make ends meet. 

“You could see that they were exhausted,” Ammar said. “You are going for your break and at the same time you can see two kids on the street, where they have no break at this age. It strikes you.”

And there are thousands of children like them.

“We are doing a massive job,” Ammar says. “But the sad reality is we can’t help everyone at the end of the day.”

A woman in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the Badghis province recently told the UN-run World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul how she made ends meet after her husband died five years prior. 

“In the past, she said, she had a fair life, just getting by cleaning and washing for other people. After the economy collapsed, families have no money anymore to pay her and her work dried up,” said WFP spokesperson Philippe Kropf in an email. As a result, she borrows money to buy food, going further into debt.

“She told me she has not been able to buy cooking oil for weeks. She eats bread with tea and sometimes rice,” he said.

Afghanistan abandoned


A young man told Kropf that “his family went to sleep many evenings without anything to eat in the past months.”

“They borrowed food with neighbours, but increasingly the neighbours have nothing to share,” he added, noting the young man had only completed second grade and was trying to find labour jobs to make ends meet. “But these jobs are getting rarer and rarer because of the collapse of the economy, too.”

The man participated in a training program to gain skills such as tailoring or mobile phone repair to earn a livelihood. The program trains 200 men and women over six months, during which participants receive food assistance for their families. 

“After the training, (the young man) hopes to either open his own little shop, sewing clothing for men and children or to find work in a tailor shop and work for a salary,” Kropf said.

Prospects of famine remain

With the country reeling from recent droughts, and facing high inflation, a difficult situation is becoming even worse.

“For the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities, marking the shifting face of hunger in the country,” Kropf said, noting some people are seeking help from WFP for the first time in their lives.

“The scale of the crisis in Afghanistan is immense, and needs continue to outpace available funding,” he added. The WFP needs nearly US $1 billion by the end of 2022 to help 18 million people – nearly half the population of Afghanistan.

Of that, the group urgently needs US $172 million to secure 150,000 metric tonnes of food to support 2.2 million people in remote parts of Afghanistan, which can get cut off by ice and snow in winter.

“We need these even more urgently because of the long lead-times for food commodities that we need to buy internationally,” Kropf said, including vegetable oil and specialized nutritious foods. “We need to get them into (the) country and then drive them into the mountains.”

The lack of funds in state bank accounts means civil servants aren’t being paid regularly, companies are shutting down and ordinary civilians face restricted access to their own savings.

Prospects of famine remain, said Ammar, noting that the main indicator is farming, which most people depend on to make ends meet. Farmers say climate change is resulting in less food production, resulting in extended periods when people don’t have adequate access to food.

Need for international aid

At the end of June, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Afghanistan, killing      over 1,000 people and causing damage the International Rescue Committee described as “catastrophic.”

“This earthquake is a catastrophe for the people affected, but the response to the wider crisis in Afghanistan remains a catastrophe of choice for the international community,” said David Miliband, the group’s CEO and president in a release at the time.

“While humanitarian aid has averted famine for now, policies of economic isolation, the halting of development funding, and the lack of support for Afghan civil servants are unraveling the two decades of development progress that western leaders vowed to protect.” 

He noted that families across the country face unemployment, leading to lower demand among local businesses which in turn leads to further job losses. He called for the international community to urgently provide funding to the country as well as “the phased and closely monitored unfreezing of assets.”

The question of frozen assets

Advocates for Afghanistan have criticized U.S.’s decision to freeze a portion of the country’s assets and decried a proposal for the U.S. to use some of them to support families affected by 9/11.

Afghanistan’s assets rightfully belong to Afghanistan, said Zubair Iqbal, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. 

However, while unfreezing the funds would help bring immediate help to alleviate Afghanistan’s crisis, the country will need more support in the long-term, said Iqbal, who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund for more than 30 years.

The solution is to grant foreign aid to Afghanistan in a sustainable way to allow recovery, while managing its spending through an independent entity, he said.

Concerns around a proposal in the U.S. to use some of the Afghan assets to support families affected by 9/11 prompted a group of Afghan women to write an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden in February.

“Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history,” the letter reads. “It is the squeezing of a wounded hand.”

Freezing the assets from the Taliban was the right decision, said one of the signatories in an interview, but they belong to the Afghan people and must be released to address the humanitarian crisis. 

“My expectation from the international community is to put serious attention on Afghanistan,” said Roshan Mashal, former deputy director of Afghan Women’s Network, who left Afghanistan after the takeover and is now a fellow at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

She called for coordination on how countries engage with the Taliban and to support the country’s people, as millions of Afghans face hunger and economic crisis.

“Don’t forget them,” she said.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

Published

on

US Stock Market Investing in the United States
  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Daily Brief

North Korea Could Possibly Be Preparing another Nuclear Test

Published

on

North Koreas ballistic missile North Korea Victory Day 2013 01
  • North Korea could be preparing a seventh nuclear test, especially after Mr. Kim announced that the country is fully ready for any military confrontation with the US at a Korean War Anniversary event. 
  • A US special representative in North Korea states that Jong-Un has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year—31 to 25. Jong-Un also stated that threats from the US required North Korea to achieve the urgent historical task of strengthening its self-defense. 
  • Jong-un also stated that South Korea is reviving a plan to counter North Korea’s threat by mounting precautionary strikes; in June alone, South Korea launched 8 missiles of its own.
  • The North Korean regime is especially angry with South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol and his so-called Kill Chain strategy. This strategy allows South Korea to launch ballistic missiles and air strikes on North Korean targets if it ever feels threatened. 
  • North Korea has also not been getting as much engagement with Washington ever since Biden replaced Trump, and could be hinting at some sort of deliberate escalation by the North, and preparations have been underway at the Punggye Ri test site since March.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Russia-Ukraine

Russia cuts Germany’s Gas Supply causing Prices to Soar 

Published

on

01 gazprom ru 5
  • Over the course of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Russia began to slowly cut off Germany’s gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 
  • Before the war, over half of Germany’s gas came from Russia. By the end of June it was reduced to a quarter of its normal captivity, and now it operates at less than a fifth of it. 
  • Russia’s energy firm Gazprom has stated that this need to cut off Germany’s gas supply was due to maintenance work on a turbine that is needed. Critics have disagreed, claiming that Russia is using it’s gas as a ploy to cause terror to Europe. 
  • The cut of Gas supply to Germany and other central European countries has caused gas prices to rise almost 2%, causing the trade to close to a record high similar to that of when Russia invaded Ukraine. 
  • While Germany scrambles to find a solution to this, Poland states it will be fully independent from Russia by the end of the year in order to avoid blackmail from Russia.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Articles