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School of Politics and International Relations

Brexit and coronavirus: Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first year in office


Today marks one year since Boris Johnson took office. At the time, the most important issue was Britain's departure from the European Union (EU). By the end of January, Covid-19 was beginning to take hold, and there has been much scrutiny of the government's response to the pandemic. The disease spread quickly, but the Prime Minister hesitated to restrict civic life and economic activities, and the lockdown was delayed in late March. In April, Mr Johnson was hospitalised after contracting coronavirus, and it took three weeks for him to return to public service. According to a public opinion poll by YouGov, the Prime Minister's approval rating surged to 66% during this time, but it had fallen to 44% in July. This could be attributed to the government's apparent missteps regarding PPE shortages, testing and government officials breaking lockdown rules. Professor Tim Bale, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "[The prospects for Boris Johnson and his government] will depend on the economy and how much [the government] is blamed in any subsequent inquiry for the country's mishandling of the pandemic. If we see a bounce back and blame evenly spread then they will be fine. If the recovery is weak and slow, and if the blame is firmly laid at the Conservatives' door, then they could be in trouble."

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