BORIS Johnson’s death-defying first year in Downing Street has taught him an important lesson: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Luck is smiling on the boosterish BoJo, who shrugged off Covid as just another Asian flu and nearly died of it a few weeks later.
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He was visibly bereft last month as the pandemic officially claimed a tragic 100,000 dead.
Ministers were under fire over blunders and false dawns which have destroyed jobs, battered mental health and left millions of cancer and heart patients without proper care.
Since then, fortunes have been transformed by unforeseen events, not least the spectacularly successful roll-out of a vaccine that didn’t exist six months ago.
“This is the one area where the Government has got it absolutely right — and at exactly the right moment,” says an ex-Cabinet veteran.
Boris celebrated St Valentine’s Day yesterday with the 15millionth jab, a target greeted with sneering disbelief when it was announced on January 6.
Infections, admissions and the numbers in intensive care have also plummeted.
The immunity from just one jab has been stunning.
We may be effectively virus-free by summer.
And it’s not just the vaccine itself.
A whole range of drugs have been found to make Covid less lethal.
As the good news pours in, it will soon be safe to start dismantling lockdown.
Downing Street wants a return to school for all ages on March 8, picnics in the park with friends and the resumption of outdoors sports soon after.
BoJo will not be rushed into hasty decisions followed by more humiliating U-turns.
A devastating fourth lockdown would destroy his newly restored credibility.
“I’m optimistic, but we have to be cautious,” says the PM.
“We don’t want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.”
There are other reasons for the bounce in Boris’s step.
His Brexit Great Escape has been vindicated by the shambles across the Channel.
EC President “Shotgun Uschi” von der Leyen admits the crisis could have destroyed the European Union.
As rows flare in Paris and Berlin, some think it still might.
At home, the Labour Party has ceased to perform as a credible Opposition.
Flip-flopping “Sir” Keir Starmer trails Boris by 15 per cent as the “best leader to deal with the country’s problems”.
Even the UK’s mammoth death toll of 117,000, among the world’s biggest, is being viewed in a different light.
There are many questions over the way “with Covid” verdicts are counted within 28 days of infection — regardless of the actual cause of death.
Pneumonia, the so-called “old man’s friend” and a major annual cause of death among the elderly, has been replaced by a “with Covid” ruling.
And last week we learned up to 40 per cent of first-wave infections — two in every five cases — were contracted while in hospital for non-Covid ailments.
As with hospital-acquired MRSA and sepsis, patients are dying from infections they did not have on admission.
In care homes, with few post-mortems and just one doctor required to sign a death certificate — usually without examining the body — there are significant questions over the true toll.
In cheerier news, the Bank of England says our stricken economy is poised like “a coiled spring” to bounce back once lockdown is lifted.
Covid may have shrivelled output by a tenth, the biggest fall since The Great Frost of 1709, leaving millions jobless or bankrupt.
But those lucky enough to keep working from home have saved a staggering £250billion nest egg just waiting to be splurged this summer.
Firms are sitting on a cash mountain worth another £150billion.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak should not rush to raise taxes.
All of this puts Boris in a position of strength he could not have imagined in his wildest dreams just a few weeks ago.
He is in total command of his Cabinet, unassailable as leader, while leaving Starmer to eat his dust.
Against all the odds, Boris Johnson has literally escaped from the jaws of death and is heading for a second landslide in 2024.
THE unwritten scandal of Westminster politics is the absence of MPs from the battlefield.
A lot is happening apart from Covid – the Grenfell cladding disaster, alleged chicanery at Scotland Yard, bullying by Brussels.
Yet MPs refuse to attend Parliament unless jabbed.
No government can be held to account by Zoom.
Ministers simply duck difficult questions.
So there has been little sign of life in our Mother of Parliaments for a whole year.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle needs to bang some heads together.
For all their faults, if our elected MPs don’t count as “key” workers in a crisis, who does?
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