The Scottish Mail on Sunday
PM’s allies: Boris is not for turning – just like Maggie
ALLIES of Boris Johnson have compared his battle against coronavirus with Margaret Thatcher’s determination to defeat inflation in the 1980s.
Despite gloomy scientific modelling which predicts that cases could hit 200,000 a day during the current wave, they say Mr Johnson is ‘resolute’ about last Monday’s lifting of restrictions – trusting that the vaccine rollout has sufficiently weakened the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
One told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Barring the emergence of some terrible new variant, Boris is going to hold his nerve and stick to the plan.
‘Everyone told Maggie she was on the wrong path over inflation, but she saved the country.’
Mrs Thatcher embarked on her programme to stamp out inflation in 1980, through deep public spending cuts and strict control of the money supply.
By the middle of the year, with inflation hitting 22 per cent and unemployment heading towards 2.8million, she faced furious opposition – including from former Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
After meeting Mrs Thatcher at
Chequers in August 1980, Mr Macmillan wrote an 11-page letter to her in which he warned that global conditions, coupled with her tough monetarist stance, left Britain at risk of ‘constant recession’.
Perhaps the most infamous expression of opposition to Mrs Thatcher’s policies came in 1981 when 365 economists wrote to The Times urging her to change course. But Mrs Thatcher refused and within four years inflation had fallen from 27 per cent to 4 per cent, providing the bedrock for the subsequent economic recovery.
There are tentative signs that Mr Johnson’s stance on the virus is already reaping dividends.
Figures released yesterday showed 31,795 new Covid cases, down from 46,558 on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister had originally planned to invoke the memory of another of his illustrious predecessors when restrictions were eased by launching England’s Freedom Day at a historic venue associated with Winston Churchill. The idea was quietly shelved after the case rates started to climb.
Mr Johnson yesterday appeared on video link from Chequers – where he is isolating after coming into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid before he tested positive for Covid – to send a good luck message to the British and Irish Lions ahead of their first Test against South Africa yesterday.
He said: ‘The combined might of the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish rugby union players will be an absolutely formidable opponent to anybody.’
Mr Javid and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were also selfisolating at home yesterday and received deliveries – groceries from the upmarket company Getir in Mr Javid’s case, and Sainsbury’s for Sir Keir.