Today’s announcement from the Prime Minister that the last vestiges of the coronavirus restrictions is most welcome and fantastic news. The act itself will expire, the taxpayer will no longer pay for healthy people to test and there will be no more restrictions from the UK government on your ability to go about your lives freely. Nearly two years of a nightmare, gone.
While there has been much to criticise about Boris Johnson, on this issue he ultimately made the right call. He ended restrictions last summer, brought in some, but much less than the dracionian restrictions imposed by most other governments with the arrival of Omicron, and now England is arguably the freest nation in the world. Yes, much of his reversion can surely be put down to the heroic bravery of Conservative backbenchers in the Covid recovery group making the case for the return to freedom, his gaining perspective after the scare of his own personal bout with Covid or the replacement of Matt Hancock with Sajid Javid – that this superb analysis in the Telegraph points to. But for whatever reason, the country was fortunate to have a leader that actually has an appreciation for liberty. Keir Starmer and Labour seemingly want these restrictions to continue forever based off their reaction to the Prime Minister’s announcement. To see how bad it could have been under Labour- look no further than police state France, hermit queendom New Zealand or despotic, human rights abusing Canada.
There are of course great challenges remaining for this government to tackle. The first and most pressing foreign policy issue is the Russian incursion into Ukraine and the possibility of an armed conflict there. There is also the still unresolved issue of problems with the Northern Ireland protocol that must be resolved. However, the looming long term challenge for this government (as well as numerous nations around the world) is the cost of living crisis with rising inflation and taxes.
In response to John Redwood’s question in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister emphatically agreed that the government’s task was to bring down the cost of living to your average Briton. However, with rising energy prices due to the UK’s refusal to invest in domestic energy (oil, gas and coal) and environment regulations due to the government’s slavish commitment to net zero, the prospect of cheaper energy remains a fantasy for the foreseeable future. Rising energy prices, of course, raises the cost of everything else squeezing everyone but especially the poorest. Further, the government appears to be stubbornly sticking to tax hikes on corporations and on national insurance – which will only squeeze people’s finances – especially the latter tax. Of course, the books must be balanced – as Rishi Sunak argues and it is well known that the Chancellor intends to cut taxes before the next election. But two years from now may be too late. The pain of inflation and taxes may choke out the economic recovery of the UK, – ironically leading to less revenue due to lower growth and hand the country to a mad combination of Labour and Scottish Nationalists who wish to destroy the United Kingdom at the next general election.
Boris Johnson was eventually persuaded to return to his freedom loving instincts and views and bin lockdowns and restrictions by the unrelenting pressure and encouragement of liberty loving people in Parliament, in media, and throughout the country. This same energy and pressure must now be garnered to fight net zero and for a return to a smaller state – the latter the Prime Minister claims to want. Lord Frost’s plan is a good blueprint for what this government should aim to achieve in its second half of its term in power. While today is a day to celebrate, we must not rest – there is much more to be done to better the UK.