Challenges facing Boris Johnson after a year in No 10

Boris Johnson’s first year in office has seen Brexit, a baby and a brush with death from coronavirus.

But some of the challenges still lying ahead of the Prime Minister suggest his job is not going to get any easier after he reaches the 12-month milestone on Friday.

Coronavirus

While the country has come a long way since April, when case numbers were rocketing and more than 1,000 deaths a day were being recorded with Covid-19, the threat of the virus has not gone away.

HEALTH Coronavirus

The Prime Minister is keen to reopen as much of the economy as possible and has held out the prospect of life being back to something approaching normality by Christmas.

But it is possible that the virus will be more virulent in the winter months, adding to the seasonal pressure faced every year by the NHS.

Even if the virus does remain under control, the unprecedented economic damage caused by the outbreak and subsequent lockdown may take years to repair.

ECONOMY Borrowing

Brexit

The Prime Minister may have “got Brexit done” by getting the UK out of the European Union on January 31, but the current negotiations on the future relationship with Brussels are proving just as difficult as the process of leaving.

Brexit
The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier at 10 Downing Street (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The current arrangements end on December 31, meaning holidaymakers and businesses will need to adjust to new rules – either with a deal to cement a close relationship and protect trade or without an agreement and the additional costs and complexity that could mean.

China

The “golden era” in Sino-British relations under his predecessors appears to have been consigned to the history books as a result of Beijing’s approach to Hong Kong.

The UK has also been caught up in the bitter dispute between Beijing and Washington, with US sanctions forcing Mr Johnson to perform a U-turn over Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks.

The challenge of how to cope with the increasingly assertive Asian superpower will be a major factor in the foreign policy agenda of Mr Johnson for years to come.

Social care

“I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared,” Mr Johnson proclaimed in his first speech as Prime Minister.

But a year on there is little sign of that pre-prepared plan and coronavirus has ripped through care homes across the country.

Successive prime ministers have failed to come up with a solution of how to pay for the care required by an ageing population.

Number 10 said the Government had sought views from across Parliament but the issue was complex and it would take time to develop a solution to the problem.

The environment

The UK hosts the major Cop26 climate summit in November 2021, a year later than planned as a result of coronavirus, and Mr Johnson will hope to be able to set a global example on the environmental agenda.

But the Committee on Climate Change has warned the UK is not making the progress it needs to drive down emissions and prepare for the impacts of rising temperatures.

The UK has set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 but it is not on course to meet its previous goal of an 80% reduction in emissions by that date.

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