A new report which claims that Boris Johnson is now taking ‘direct control’ of the government’s handling of the coronavirus has left people baffled.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Downing Street will oversee the government’s ‘entire approach’ to the pandemic with two centrally-run committees ‘covering strategy and operational delivery’.
Tory MPs hope the committees will reduce the influence of chief adviser Dominic Cummings in key decisions, leaving Boris Johnson to have more say.
The newspaper reports such committes will also allow the prime minister’s top team to focus on Brexit talks ahead of a crucial deadline next month.
A senior Tory MP said the moves were intended ‘to bring some order’ to the decision-making process six months after Covid-19 arrived in the UK.
The MP said: ‘Boris has decided that Cummings is there, but he is going to take more direct control. It is coming out of frustration – you are seeing his reawakening after a tough old time with the Covid-19 attack.
‘He showed he had backbone [in backing Cummings]. Cummings is not in a brilliant place – and he must know it. Boris knowing that makes him more determined to do it himself.’
But it comes as Johnson planned to end weekend press conferences due to low audience figures, only holding them on weekdays.
Viewing figures for weekday press conferences attract more than three million viewers and listeners, with more than two million on weekends, without consideration for on-demand and streaming numbers.
The announcement over Johnson ‘taking charge’ has left people baffled, not least because the newspaper has run similar headlines before, including when the prime minister returned from sick leave.
‘Good luck to him, whoever was in charge before was doing pretty badly,’ said Alan White.
‘Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse,’ tweeted @blogdignag.
‘Is that the one day a week at the Daily Briefing? Who’s in control the other 6 days though, is it the one who drives 30 miles to test his eyesight?’ asked Kate Wilton.
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‘What the hell have we been paying him for until now?’ asked Robin Kellett.
”Leader of the country to lead country’… stop the presses!’ joked Scott Middler.
‘So what the f**k has he been doing till now? Part-time PM, utterly useless,’ fumed Alastair Campbell.
‘What’s also remarkable about this story is that No 10 think the *answer* is centralisation. The *problem* is centralisation,’ added Peter Geoghegan.
The story follows Labour leader Keir Starmer calling for Boris Johnson to ‘get a grip’ ahead of their latest Prime Minister’s Questions exchanges.