Politics explained

Boris Johnson’s Operation Red Meat is just an act of desperation

There is little else the PM can offer to distract his critics or end the unrelenting bombardment of his reputation, believes Sean O’Grady

Tuesday 18 January 2022 21:59
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<p>There is, though, much more certainty that a rumoured clearout of No 10 staff will go ahead</p>

There is, though, much more certainty that a rumoured clearout of No 10 staff will go ahead

Reported on Sunday; announced on Monday; trashed on Tuesday. Like a bad version of the Craig David song, Boris Johnson’s Operation Red Meat had a truncated and rather troubled career. Whatever the merits of the various distractions from the unlikely (because absurd) psychodrama of Partygate might have been, it is fair to say they’ve not really calmed things down for the prime minister.

On the contrary, the very fact that the clumsily named Operation Red Meat was such a blatant attempt to buy off angry backbenchers itself became a further source of complaint. For example, the Spartan Eurosceptic and Johnson loyalist Andrew Bridgen MP dismissed the “meat” as “sweets … you’ve already had in your pocket and you’ve already promised them”. Like everyone else, Bridgen knows that the Covid restrictions are set to be reviewed on 26 January – hardly a great lump of succulent red meat for his ravenous backbenchers. The blood they can sniff is the prime minister’s own.

It didn’t really do the trick, then, even before Dominic Cummings’s latest bombshell, which might suggest that Downing Street, even now, doesn’t quite comprehend the nature of the danger to the prime minister’s career.

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