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Boris Johnson used to be the Teflon man of British politics, brushing off scandals, gaffes and mistakes. Not any more

October 24, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 13: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visits the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust on July 13, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson had big plans for 2020. With the Brexit question that had torn the nation apart for nearly four years finally settled, the Prime Minister was ready to spend some of the political capital he'd earned with his landslide election victory to bring the nation together. Then Covid-19 happened.

Free from the Brussels bureaucracy, Johnson's government vowed to address the UK's socio-economic imbalance that in some sense led to Brexit by "leveling up" deprived areas.

The whole thing ended in a complete mess, as Johnson's government didn't make clear after talks collapsed that the money deemed insufficient by Burnham was still on the table.

The government claims the whole thing was a set up by Burnham and in fact the minister responsible had talked with him before the press conference.

A government minister told CNN that there is "zero evidence that the PM picked a fight with Burnham," adding that a central government "naturally has to balance economic and public health issues while local politicians have a much narrower focus," implying Burnham was playing politics with Johnson.

However, worryingly for Johnson, his personal approval ratings and trust in his government have plummeted sufficiently since the crisis that the truth doesn't entirely matter.

"From the start, this government set out to hyper-centralize everything from a small team in Downing Street in order to have a tight grip on the Johnson project," says a senior Conservative lawmaker.

Some said that decisions were made on the basis of focus groups; some said they helped shape how the government would sell policy to the public; some claimed it had led to major policy U-turns, including over Rashford's summer campaign.

A government minister puts this down to the fact that despite all the headlines, Johnson's real actions present an alternative narrative that voters understand.

And as the crisis continues, many of his previous supporters are increasingly skeptical that Boris Johnson was ever really the man to unite a country divided by political chaos for which he was largely responsible.

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