Boris Johnson has been elected the new PM – but can he deliver on his pledges?

0

Prime Minister-elect Boris Johnson campaigned for the premiership on a number of issues including Brexit, immigration and taxes.

During his campaign to be the next prime minister, Boris Johnson made a number of promises to the electorate on everything from Brexit, to broadband – but can the new occupant of number 10 really deliver?

Mr Johnson put his career on the line with this pledge, first given in a radio interview and then repeated at leadership hustings.

But he ducked a challenge from rival Jeremy Hunt to say whether he’d resign if he fails to achieve it. The commitment sharply increases the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, but a big Tory rebellion against shutting down parliament last week and now Philip Hammond’s vow to lead a backbench mutiny means the Commons could block no deal.

Brussels is refusing to do a deal too. So it looks like no deal or no Brexit on 31 October.

Likelihood: Three out of five

This tax cut for higher earners would cost nearly £10bn and mean anyone earning £80,000 would take home £6,500 more a year.

Mr Johnson announced the promise in his Telegraph column and said he’d fund it by using some of the £26.6bn set aside for a no-deal Brexit.

Really? Mr Johnson is threatening a no-deal Brexit!

Widely seen as a blunder and slammed by Labour as “tax cuts for the rich”, the move was also viewed as undermining his claims to be a “One Nation” Tory.

Other leadership candidates promised tax cuts for the lower paid and it’s hard to see this getting through a House of Commons with no Tory majority.

Likelihood: Two out of five

A few days later, stung by the backlash against his proposed tax cut for high earners, Mr Johnson unveiled this tax cut aimed at the lower paid.

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said this proposal too would offer “most benefit” to high income households and, while Mr Johnson did not set a new threshold, raising it to the current income tax personal allowance of £12,500 would cost at least £11bn.

Another study said it would increase inequality and drive up poverty. An eye-catching tax plan that looks ill-thought-out.

Likelihood: Two out of five

Nigel Farage said there was a “deal to be done” with Mr Johnson and Brexit hardliner Steve Baker MP said: “If Remainer Conservatives drive us to a general election we are going to need a pact with the Brexit Party in order to survive.”

It wasn’t until the final leadership hustings – the night of his notorious kipper stunt – that Mr Johnson firmly ruled it out.

Challenged by a heckler, he replied: “I will rule it out, yes, I will rule it out.”

But then Sajid Javid unexpectedly praised Mr Farage for quitting Ukip and said the Brexit Party were “not extremists”.

So don’t rule it out entirely.

Likelihood: Two out of five

Probably the most popular and least controversial policy unveiled by Mr Johnson during the leadership campaign.

Remember, the “pupil premium” was originally a policy brought to David Cameron’s Coalition government by the Liberal Democrats.

But in 2015 George Osborne imposed spending cuts, estimated by the Institute of Fiscal Studies at 4% in real terms.

Mr Johnson is now promising an extra £4.6bn per year by 2022-23 to keep pace with rising pupil numbers and return spending per pupil to its 2015 level. It’s aimed at helping people “left behind” and rural schools, says Mr Johnson.

Likelihood: Five out of five

First proposed by Mr Johnson during his Vote Leave 2016 referendum campaign, foreigners who want to work in Britain would have to speak English and have a job before they arrive.

It’s likely to mean the scrapping of Theresa May’s 10-year-old target to reduce net immigration to below 100,000 a year.

Critics including Lord Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, claim the Australian system operates differently because its main purpose is to increase, not reduce, immigration.

Also, the UK already has a points-based system for non-EEA migrants, introduced by Labour in 2008.

Likelihood: Four out of five

Mr Johnson wants a post-Brexit trade deal with the US as one of his first acts in Downing Street, but has been slapped down by Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who said: “We can’t negotiate anything with the US until after we’ve left the EU.”

During his UK visit, US President Donald Trump promised a “phenomenal” free trade agreement with the UK, but caused a row by saying “everything is on the table”, including the NHS.

UK farmers fear a no-deal Brexit, cheap US imports and chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef coming into the UK.

Likelihood: Two out of five

In a move declaring war on the “nanny state”, Mr Johnson – who has admitted to “late-night binges of chorizo and cheese” – pledged to curb “sin stealth taxes” just days before his supporter Matt Hancock, the health secretary, proposed extending the sugar tax to milkshakes.

Mr Johnson has challenged claims that these so-called “sin taxes” change behaviour and suggested they “clobber” poorer consumers.

But health campaigners claim half of the soft drinks market has reduced the sugar in their products to avoid the tax. Fat chance of success?

Likelihood: Two out of five

Despite a late-night visit from police – following an altercation with girlfriend Carrie Symonds – early in the leadership campaign, Mr Johnson wants 20,000 more officers.

They’d tackle knife attacks and violent crime and boost numbers in rural areas and cost £1.1b.

Populist, but hugely popular too. The proposal followed a call from former Met chief Lord Hogan-Howe for an extra 20,000 officers to fight knife crime.

Most Tory police and crime commissioners are backing Mr Johnson and signed a letter hailing his “outstanding work” as London mayor in tackling violence.

Likelihood: Four out of five

Perhaps Mr Johnson’s most ambitious pledge, even supporters of the proposal claim this will be difficult to achieve.

Another policy announced in his £275,000-a-year Daily Telegraph column, it has been widely dismissed by telecoms experts.

They claim full fibre will only be commercially available to 50-75% of the population by 2033 and have unkindly compared this project with the £43m Mr Johnson spent on London’s “garden bridge”, which was never built, and the purchase of an unusable water cannon for the police, later sold for scrap at a £300,000 loss.

Likelihood: One out of five

Many MPs believe that for Mr Johnson getting to 10 Downing Street has been the easy bit and that now his problems really start. Once seen by supporters and opponents as a Heineken politician, since the rancorous 2016 EU referendum he’s more like Marmite.

Unite the country? He’s a bitterly divisive figure because of Brexit.

And that’s just one of the big decisions in his in-tray. Iran, no Commons majority, HS2 and Heathrow – on which he once promised to “lie down in front of the bulldozers” and then skipped the Commons vote – will all test him.

Mr Johnson is hugely fortunate that under Jeremy Corbyn Labour is riven by feuds and paralysed by antisemitism and Brexit indecision. He wants to fight an election while Mr Corbyn is still Labour leader.

No wonder! A Labour Party at the top of its game would probably defeat the chaotic and divided Tories at the moment. Successful politicians need a bit of luck. Will Boris Johnson be lucky? If he can deliver Brexit by October 31 perhaps the Tories’ luck will change.

But if he fails, the hard men of the Tory right – who ousted Theresa May and have now installed him in 10 Downing Street – will come for him and topple him too.

If that happens – and he refuses to compromise on Brexit and row back from his “do or die” stance – then according to top pollster Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, Mr Johnson could beat the unenviable record of George Canning, prime minister from April-August 1827, and become the UK’s shortest serving PM in history.

Wow! High stakes! Or as Boris Johnson himself would say: “Cripes!”

Likelihood: Two out of five

Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply