5 cunning plans in Boris Johnson's 'Operation Red Meat' that will definitely save him

From Operation Save Big Dog to Operation Red Meat, Boris Johnson has what Baldrick might have called a cunning plan to recover from Partygate. From no longer drinking at desks to Navy boats in the Channel, we look at what’s reported…

How Boris Johnson might have looked as Baldrick, whom of course he is not
How Boris Johnson might have looked as Baldrick, whom of course he is not

First it was ‘Operation Save Big Dog’, with Boris Johnson set to blame his officials for the drinking and party culture in Downing Street.

Now it’s ‘Operation Red Meat’ – a bid to win stop Tories demanding his resignation with some classic, tub-thumping policies.

As Baldrick in Blackadder might have put it… the Prime Minister has a cunning plan.

According to the Sunday Times, Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a wave of policies in the next couple of weeks to deflect – and recover – from Sue Gray’s Partygate report.

Some will be welcomed across the country – the Chancellor is expected to announce help for soaring energy bills ahead of April’s rise being announced on February 7.

The PM is also said to be preparing announcements on the NHS surgery backlog, ‘skills and training’ for benefit claimants (after cutting their Universal Credit by £20 a week) and, of course, ending Plan B Covid rules on January 26.

But others might raise a few eyebrows among those who are not die-hard Tory MPs.

We stress none of these are confirmed by No10, and some of them are very speculative.

But if true, will they be enough to save Boris Johnson? We run through the reports of the PM’s cunning plan and let you make up your own mind…

Promising ‘we won’t drink at work any more’

In a move unlikely to impress any teachers, nurses or police officers, the Prime Minister is looking at banning staff from… drinking at their desks.

Rattled by the Mirror’s revelations of ‘wine time Fridays’, for which staff bought a £142 wine fridge and wheeled a suitcase to Tesco, the PM could ban alcohol in No10.

According to The Sun on Sunday, staff will be ordered to drink only off the premises and outside working hours in future.

Alcohol would be banned behind the black door of No10, apart from at official receptions.

Boris Johnson bringing tea for the press outside his country home in 2018



Scrapping the BBC licence fee

If there’s one still point in the turning world of right-leaning Tories, it’s a desire to get rid of the BBC licence fee.

And Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries duly obliged today, revealing the current licence fee settlement – up to December 2027 – “will be the last”.

She also retweeted reports that the £159 annual bill will be frozen for two years, forcing the Beeb to make around £2billion of cuts.

Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said: “The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary seem hell-bent on attacking this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism.”

Setting the military on Channel boats

If there’s another still point in the turning world of right-leaning Tories, it’s migrant boats.

For months, there have been concerns from all sides about how to handle thousands of people making the dangerous crossing to Britain in the English Channel.

Priti Patel has already authorised Border Force to “push back” vessels towards France, a move the Joint Committee on Human Rights warned may breach the law.

Now reports suggest the Royal Navy will be put in charge of operations in the Channel within days.

A lady carries a small child as a group of people are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, on a small boat



Publishing the levelling-up white paper, late and with little new cash?

Tory ministers had pledged a White Paper by Christmas 2021 on how to “improve livelihoods” in left-behind towns – two and a half years after a pledge by the PM.

But it was pushed back to the beginning of this month, with Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove hoping it would be the first major intervention of 2022.

Then it was pushed back to “by the end” of January. Now the Sunday Times reports it will only come in the “first week of February”.

And there could be some problems with the funding. According to the Sunday Times, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said Mr Gove cannot have any more money for the plan, so he is trying to re-announce other departments’ schemes to bulk it up.

And finally… Sir Gavin Williamson?

Remember him?


Getty Images)

It may seem unlikely to those who battled through the exams fiasco of 2020, or who remember him being sacked over a national security leak (which he’s always denied).

But the Sunday Times claims Gavin Williamson could be handed a knighthood in the next honours list “to keep him quiet”.

After all, he’s a man who knows which side his bread is buttered. He has the unlikely honour of having run both Theresa May ’s and Boris Johnson’s leadership campaigns.

That means for all his public image, he’s a man watched carefully by the right people in power.

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