Mr Johnson’s first year in office has been anything but easy. It has seen Brexit, a baby and a brush with death from coronavirus. However, some of the challenges still lying ahead of the Prime Minister suggest the job is not going to get any easier. It is possible that the virus will be more virulent in the winter months, adding to the seasonal pressure faced every year by the NHS.
Moreover, while Mr Johnson may have “got Brexit done” by getting the UK out of the EU on January 31, the current negotiations on the future relationship with Brussels are proving just as difficult as the process of leaving.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s reluctance to make concessions on fish is stirring concern among officials he could sink efforts to reach a wider trade accord.
The two sides are nervous that major compromises on the key disagreements of fishing rights and state aid are still to be made, officials said.
As many wonder whether Mr Johnson will end up softening his stance on Brexit in order to strike a deal, in a recent report, journalist and former MEP Patrick O’Flynn argued that by doing so, the Prime Minister might risk losing the next general election.
Mr O’Flynn claimed that Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage is waiting exactly for this move to make his comeback to British politics.
He wrote: “A few weeks ago, Nigel Farage enjoyed a get together with a very senior Conservative Party figure. Brexit was, naturally, at the heart of the conversation. As he departed from the convivial rendezvous he delivered a line that lowered the temperature in the room and is likely to concentrate Tory minds: ‘If you screw it up again I will come back and kill you.’
“So far there is little sign of Boris Johnson’s administration going soft on post-Brexit negotiations.
“But Tory wariness of Farage persists and is understandable. After all, this is the man who has built a political brand that has haunted the party’s every waking hour not once, but twice.”
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Mr O’Flynn recalled how the first time round, former Prime Minister David Cameron conceded an EU referendum in large part because “he had Ukip breathing down his neck”.
The second time, it was Mr Farage’s Brexit Party that effectively ended former Prime Minister Theresa May’s premiership by winning the European elections.
The former MEP then asked: “So could there be a third dose of Farage on the horizon? And given growing discontent among Tory-inclined voters about various issues, why hasn’t it happened yet?”
He continued: “Well, yes there could be. Those close to the former Ukip leader say he has noticed that a big chunk of the 2019 Tory vote – perhaps up to a third – has ‘worked loose’ already on three separate issues: an apparent failure to stand up for British history and culture; opposition among libertarian-inclined people to lockdown measures and the continuing chaotic immigration system.
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“Of these, he thinks the third has the most potential traction and has made exposing it a major part of his political and social media activity over the summer and autumn. The other two issues are regarded as potentially useful supporting pillars for an alternative offer from the Right but less likely to affect an outright change in the way people vote.
“Recent political history tells us that there are around four million voters highly susceptible to his appeal. At the 2015 general election, a substantial number of them defected to Ukip from Labour, causing the likes of Ed Balls to lose an early smattering of ‘Red Wall’ seats. For many such voters, Ukip proved a gateway to voting Tory in the 2019 general election.”
Mr O’Flynn concluded in his piece for The Spectator: “Were he to re-enter the fray even as the ‘Mr Ten Percent’ of British politics, Nigel Farage could completely transform the scene to the massive detriment of the Conservative Party.
“So he watches and he waits, knowing all the time that a Tory failure to deliver on Brexit or immigration will let him back in the game. A memo to the Tories about how to fend him off could be written in two words: Don’t fail.”