28 November 2021 | POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT ANALYSIS

As Storm Arwen brings snow to the UK, both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon are balancing on their own respective metaphorical ice.

Over the last few weeks, Boris Johnson has made a series of political mishaps – from the Owen Paterson fiasco, MPs’ second jobs, HS2 watered down to talking about Peppa Pig World and then was seen jumping in fury to Labour Leader Keir Starmer at PMQs on Wednesday.

This week we saw, in the papers, rumours of letters being sent to Sir Graham Brady MP, Chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee, but it’s my belief that this injury – which eventually saw Theresa May win a vote of no confidence in her own Conservative leadership in late 2018 – is merely a graze at the moment.

The letters to the ’22 Committee story coming up shows that there is a small but rhythmic swelling of Conservative MPs who are showing dissent to Johnson’s decision-making and handling of scandals. Once famed for dodging questions and moving past tricky issues, it seems that the Prime Minister’s ice skates aren’t letting him balance recently. Does this mean he is going to be out of Number 10 soon? Certainly not, because as much as he is becoming the reason why ‘Red Wall’ MPs are losing their patience, they also owe the Prime Minister their political careers.

The Johnson majority Government is roughly halfway through its term, so this could just be the very natural blip we have seen in previous administrations – but this is the enigma that is Boris: he recovers and moves on, until now.

Contrast this with the SNP Government in Scotland – which is just 6 months into a new term – and you are seeing Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP show signs of restlessness about the issue of Scottish independence and the state of Scotland.

Both parties have been in power for over a decade in their respective Parliaments, and it’s ironic that they are both weathering a storm. Sturgeon’s interview in Vogue magazine was vast, but one bit stood out – she is starting to think of life after being First Minister, which the cynic in me is saying is possibly because she is caught in an impossible battle over IndyRef2.

The SNP was just one seat short of a majority in May 2021 and did a deal with the independence-backing Scottish Green Party to govern Holyrood. To Sturgeon, this election result gave her the power to say the Scots want another referendum, but if we look further into the SNP, we see a more complicated picture:

There is a chunk that want to have another independence referendum at whatever cost; the Sturgeon wing who want to wait until the pandemic is over (and Sturgeon has told the BBC she can’t say when this will be); and what I see as a silent majority who know that to push a referendum so soon after the ‘once-in-a-generation’ 2014 vote is to damage any chance of a ‘Yes’ vote when the time comes.

Sturgeon, in the height of the pandemic, was often seen as the most visible and safest leader in the UK, but when the issue comes down to the political goal she has worked on for decades, it seems like she’s starting to wobble on the ice.

Both leaders have their own political ice rinks to skate on and it looks like dissenters in their respective crowds are starting to really loosen their flag-waving for their own leaders. Maybe both of them should walk outside in Storm Arwen and learn how to balance those physical elements, so they can best skill up on how to survive their own internal storms.

Hugo Sugg is a political commentator and aspiring MP. His interests include homelessness, democracy and influencing policy. He is also the CEO of a charity responding to homelessness.

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