How can a prime minister with an 80-seat majority be forced to change his mind on anything?
You may well ask. The answer is obvious: public opinion – Boris Johnson knows his politics (his real politics) is right on the edge of what the UK’s general public will accept. But he doesn’t know where the dividing line is; he thinks his ideas are all perfectly acceptable!
He only finds out where the line is when he crosses it. Here are four recent examples, courtesy of The Independent:
Free school meals
The prime minister is well-known for his enthusiasm on the sporting field – if not necessarily his skill. This time Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford beat Mr Johnson at what should be his own game, politics.
The call from the premiership footballer to U-turn on plans to scrap free school meal vouchers over the summer turbocharged a campaign that had already been running for weeks.
Once Tory MPs started to add their voices to calls for a change of heart it was time to drop the policy, but not before Mr Rashford had been dubbed the hero of the hour.
Boris Johnson announced in May that the £400 annual fee paid by non-EU migrants to use the NHS would be scrapped for health and care workers, just a day after defending the policy.
As the nation assembled on their doorsteps every Thursday night to clap for carers it had become increasingly untenable for NHS staff to be asked to pay extra, on top of their taxes, to use the health service.
Especially as it was inside that very health service where they were willingly risking their lives in the fight against coronavirus.
There was an outcry when it emerged a new NHS bereavement scheme would apply to doctors and nurses but not to thousands of other critical staff, many of them low paid.
The scheme grants indefinite leave to remain in the UK to relatives of overseas born NHS staff who die fighting Covid-19. Introduced in April, there were almost immediate calls for it to be extended to other workers, including porters and cleaners.
The government was forced to offer concessions to MPs after howls of protests over plans to make them vote in person in the House of Commons.
The system was declared a farce even by normally loyal Tory MPs after politicians were forced to stand in a line more than a kilometre long to queue to vote.