James Forsyth

Boris’s tetchy Marr interview showed the risks he is taking

The question is how long voters' patience will last

Boris's tetchy Marr interview showed the risks he is taking
(BBC)
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Boris Johnson's rather testy interview with Andrew Marr this morning revealed the political gamble that he is taking. Johnson is calculating that the electoral benefits of higher wages will cancel out the public irritation with supply chain issues caused by labour shortages. During the interview, he repeatedly stressed that he thought that the UK’s low wage growth and stagnant productivity was, in part, because of the UK’s use of cheap, imported labour and that he wasn’t going to go back to that ‘old failed model’.

When Andrew Marr pushed on how long these supply chain problems would go on for, Boris Johnson did not give a straight answer. So far, the government appears to have paid no political price for the petrol crunch. Whether the same will be true if Christmas is disrupted remains to be seen.

The beginning of the interview was dominated by the fallout from the sentencing of Wayne Couzens for the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard. Johnson did not support the idea of a public inquiry into what had happened, instead talking about how the government intends to speed up rape prosecutions.

We do need to look systemically at not just the Wayne Couzens case but the whole handling of rape, domestic violence, sexual violence and female complaints about harassment, all together...There are delays taking place at every stage in the process. You know the reasons - it's all the complexities to do with people's mobile phones, the evidence that's produced by the defence, and all that kind of stuff. But, in the end, that is no excuse.

On the police, Johnson offered support but said that the Independent Police Complaints Commission should look at how officers used WhatsApp groups and the like. But the more that comes out about Couzens, the harder it is to see how the government’s continuing backing for the Met’s senior leadership is tenable.