2022 political predictions: Could we have an election, a new PM, or even a Labour govt?
Richard Tice: Tory MPs may defect over Boris' party scandals
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2021 isn’t likely to be one Boris Johnson will be eager to repeat, politically speaking. With Covid running rampant through the population, the Conservative Party at the centre of numerous scandals, and a dizzying number of staff changes, the year gone by was not one of calm and stability for the ruling party or the country it governs.
So what of 2022? Will we see more infighting, jostling to take over the top job, mud-slinging from across the bench, and ongoing Brexit battles? Will Covid continue to dominate headlines? Will we have a new Prime Minister?
The answers to these questions will, of course, only become clear in the fullness of time. But there are some tools to be used for early predictions.
One of these is the public polls, which have been stubbornly tough on the current Prime Minister for some time now.
According to the year-end Ipsos MORI mega-poll, published on December 20, a whopping 62 percent of UK adults now think it likely that Boris Johnson won’t see out another year as PM.
Just 25 percent expect Mr Johnson to still be in the hot seat by the end of 2022, with even a majority of 2019 Tory voters (58 percent) thinking it unlikely.
In comparison, opinions are split when it comes to Keir Starmer’s position as leader of the Labour Party.
Some 38 percent think he will not hold the position by the end of the year while 36 percent disagree.
2019 Labour supporters are also split – 39 percent think he will have left, but exactly the same proportion say it is unlikely.
However, while half (52 percent) expect there to be a General Election next year, this is well down on the 72 percent in 2018 who (correctly) predicted there would be a General Election in 2019.
Labour voters are most likely to forecast an election next year (59 percent), but half (48 percent) of Conservatives think it unlikely.
Elsewhere, the appetite for a general election appears to be low.
The latest YouGov tracker, asking people whether they think there should be a general election before the next planned one in 2024, shows 51 percent of people do not.
However, at 30 percent, the number of those who do wish for an early election is on the rise, up from 24 percent in the summer.
Of course, while there might be growing public desire for an election, there is close to zero chance of Boris Johnson calling one.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Steven McCabe, a lecturer, researcher and economist at the Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, said it was “ludicrous” to imagine Mr Johnson offering himself up in such a manner.
He said: “Governments like to choose the ‘right’ moment to go to the people; ideally when opinion polls indicate the auspices are good.
“Accordingly, it’s certain that there will be no general election in the next few months.”
However, he added: “If the circumstances are portentous, no government waits until the end of its five-year term. Too much can go wrong.
“Therefore, it’s likely that any general election will be held in 2023. Indeed, as Johnson so famously proved, December elections, normally unusual, worked to his advantage.
“What we can expect to see in the meantime is, perhaps, a more contrite Boris Johnson leading a party committed to adhering to its commitment to fulfilling the will of the people.”
In this instance, the only way the UK could expect to see a significant shakeup, such as a change in leadership, would be through a major rebellion within Mr Johsnon’s own party.
This, again, is unlikely, Dr McCabe predicts.
He said: “The Conservative Party is indebted to Johnson in having delivered a majority and, therefore, Brexit, his predecessor found impossible to achieve.
“Regardless of the barrage of criticism of Johnson, his character flaws were well known before being elected leader in July 2019.
“Changing a leader who exudes the message of boosterism, no matter how facile, and which has proven popular, would be a risk.
“As Conservatives know, getting rid of Johnson would be regarded as confirming a party in crisis.
“Barring further revelations, which, given everything else Johnson’s experienced, would have to be of a magnitude not previously seen, it’s pretty assured he’ll lead the Conservatives into the next general election.”
Instead, then, we can expect to see Mr Johnson battling through, with Covid and Brexit likely to keep dominating agendas as Omicron rages on, the Northern Ireland border issue remains unresolved and France heads to the polls in April.
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