Attention seekers risk sabotaging achievements for Boris and Britain

NADINE DORRIES: Behaviour of attention-seeking MPs risks sabotaging magnificent achievements for Boris Johnson and Britain

Ten years ago in this newspaper I came out as the first MP to back Boris for Prime Minister. I wrote that he had a proven track record as a winner.

At a time when the party, under David Cameron’s leadership, was consistently trailing behind in the polls, Boris won the London mayoral election – twice.

In December 2019, he had the force of personality to secure a majority of more than 80 and win those important ‘Red Wall’ seats, some of which we had never taken before.

Last week, sadly, a small minority of my colleagues spent their time chasing airtime and column inches because they are determined to remove from office our most successful Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.

The same old names keep cropping up.

As for allegations about threatening behaviour from the whips, I can only imagine what vapours some of them would have had during the long days and nights of the Maastricht vote in 1993, when the party machine went into overdrive to secure a pro-EU majority.

After two extremely difficult years, the United Kingdom is on the verge of returning to normal life again – thanks to the Prime Minister, who has led from the front, furiously championing the booster rollout campaign, says Nadine Dorries

The truth is, the recent portrayal of our whips office is largely out of date and mostly fiction. There is no truth, for example, in lurid claims that dissenting MPs have had funding for their constituencies threatened. Whips simply have no say in what is spent or where.

After 17 years as an MP – and one who is no stranger to the odd rebellion – I can honestly say the worst reaction I ever had from a whip was disappointment.

Sadly, the attention-seeking behaviour of these few MPs risks overshadowing a major achievement for Britain and for our PM.

There really is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, as the World Health Organisation declared last week. 

After two extremely difficult years, the United Kingdom is on the verge of returning to normal life again – thanks to the Prime Minister, who has led from the front, furiously championing the booster rollout campaign.

He has consistently said both in private and in public, there is only one way out of Covid and that is to throw everything we have behind the vaccines.

How right he has been proved.

Countless other countries are still living in the shadow of the virus. Germany, for example, has just introduced strict rules for restaurants and bars. We, meanwhile, are stepping back out into the light, with one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. There are 420,000 more people in work today than there were at the start of the pandemic. (Above, commuters on London Bridge on January 20)

This laser focus, his absolute commitment to do what had to be done, has meant that January 26 will mark the end of all remaining Covid restrictions, including the legal requirement to wear masks in shops and other indoor spaces.

Countless other countries are still living in the shadow of the virus. Germany, for example, has just introduced strict rules for restaurants and bars.

We, meanwhile, are stepping back out into the light, with one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. 

There are 420,000 more people in work today than there were at the start of the pandemic.

We were the first country in the world to vaccinate someone against Covid with a fully tested jab. Why?

Because this Prime Minister threw everything he could at the problem, taking an educated gamble to pursue as many different vaccine candidates as possible and signing contracts at speed.

While other governments dithered and delayed and Keir Starmer repeatedly objected to our approach, Boris Johnson had the prescience and courage to bite the bullet, to push through and commit to taking decisions at exactly the right moment and with speed.

That solid conviction is the true test of leadership during a crisis.

By the end of last February, the UK had delivered 20 million vaccines. In France, it was less than five million.

When historians look back, the UK’s vaccine rollout will be seen as one of the most successful peacetime operations in history – thanks to Boris.

This promises to be a year of liberation. The last time we came close to this was in 2012, the year when Boris as Mayor delivered the Olympics, when the country buzzed and fizzed with excitement and we were filled with a sense of pride and achievement

He also took the decision to hold out against another lockdown this winter in the face of intense pressure and doom-laden predictions from Labour.

Instead of listening to the armchair epidemiologists, he went hell for leather, rolling out the booster mission. 

As a result, there was a day when an incredible one million people came forward to be jabbed. Together, with his leadership, we fought back against Omicron.

How many businesses were saved as a consequence? How many millions of people were enabled to have Christmas with their families? Of course there have been mistakes. 

The past two years have been hell for everyone, and for those working 18 hours every single day for weeks on end in the Downing Street war rooms, lines clearly became blurred.

Sue Gray’s report will deal with this and hopefully set recommendations for the future.

Beyond the distracting noises off, however, the fast-paced work of Government remains focused on levelling up parts of the country ignored for too long. 

To the small number of my colleagues who continue to agitate against their leader, I ask them to name one other politician who would have the determination and personality to drive through Brexit and lead this country out of the pandemic into a strong recovery; who would stand up to Russia as it threatens Ukraine and understands the pressures on the wallets of hard-working families

In my own department, we have plans to speed up the broadband revolution, with a £5 billion rollout of ‘gigabit’ networks now gathering pace across the country.

We’re on the side of hard-working households, freezing the BBC licence fee for two years, and have already begun work to discover a new and fairer way of funding the Corporation. 

We have truly uplifting and historic moments to look forward to in 2022, including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

No other British monarch has reached the milestone of a 70-year reign, and we’re making great progress on plans for a four-day blockbuster weekend of street parties, with the very best of British pomp and pageantry.

A couple of months later, we will be hosting the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which are already the most popular in history, with more than one million tickets sold.

To the small number of my colleagues who continue to agitate against their leader, I ask them to name one other politician who would have the determination and personality to drive through Brexit and lead this country out of the pandemic into a strong recovery; who would stand up to Russia as it threatens Ukraine and understands the pressures on the wallets of hard-working families.

This promises to be a year of liberation. 

The last time we came close to this was in 2012, the year when Boris as Mayor delivered the Olympics, when the country buzzed and fizzed with excitement and we were filled with a sense of pride and achievement.

He was a winner then and, as he has proven throughout the pandemic, he’s still our winner now.

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