Boris Johnsons greatest hits: The most memorable U-turns from the Prime Minister

Boris Johnson gets told he ‘looks weaselly’ during BBC interview

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The latest scandal regarding the conduct of MP Owen Paterson has led to a fierce outcry from the public to the House of Commons backbenches – many of the cries coming from his own party. Since winning an 80-seat majority in December 2019, the Tory Government has put a considerable number of its plans into reverse – so here are some of the best ones.

Coronavirus – The BBC quoted Mr Johnson as saying the “best thing would be to ignore” the impending coronavirus crisis around the time the first UK case was detected.

Downing Street later denied such a claim – but Mr Johnson eventually caved and put the UK into a full lockdown on March 23, 2020.

COVID-19 bereavement scheme – A scheme granting indefinite leave to remain in the UK to relatives of foreign national NHS staff who died from the virus initially excluded key workers such as cleaners, porters and social care workers.

It was eventually extended to low-paid workers.

READ MORE: Conservatives in crisis? Latest polls plummet in embarrassing U-turn

Free school meals – The backlash to Mr Johnson’s refusal to feed children from low income families over the school holidays was so fierce that he was forced to bow down to pressure led by England footballer Marcus Rashford.

Face coverings – Mr Johnson’s original line was that face masks should not be mandatory in shops as people would not be in close proximity for long.

It took a few short weeks for masks to become mandatory in England.

Exam results – the chaos caused by 2020’s A-level results, which saw thousands of students up and down the country being unfairly marked for their assessments during the pandemic, was not helped by Mr Johnson’s comment that the system used was “robust”.

It turned out not to be. Within two days, Mr Johnson u-turned.

Face masks in schools – Just two days prior to secondary schools reopening for the new term in September last year, Mr Johnson’s Government told pupils they would be required to wear masks after previously saying there was no need.

Merry Christmas! – The Government made something of a song and dance about its plans to let people socialise with their friends and loved ones over Christmas 2020, to varied response.

It didn’t matter anyway. Mr Johnson eventually announced that the socialising plans could be scrapped, just days before the big day.

England’s second lockdown – Having ignored scientific advice and having allegedly said “let the bodies pile high” when faced with the prospect of locking the country down for a second time, Mr Johnson was forced to put the country into a lockdown in January 2020.

It also forced schools to close just a day after returning for the January term.


Matt Hancock affair – When the Health Secretary was caught on camera kissing an aide, the Prime Minister accepted his apology and told the public he considered the matter closed on the Friday, and that the disgraced minister would stay in his post.

Unsurprisingly, he accepted Mr Hancock’s resignation on Saturday.

Self-isolation – In possibly one of the most bizarre messages sent to the British public, Mr Johnson and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak attempted to evade self-isolation rules after coming into contact with a Covid positive person, by claiming they were part of a pilot scheme.

It didn’t work. Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor isolated as per Government rules.

National Insurance – A key pledge of the Tory 2019 election manifesto, the Government brought forward plans to increase the tax contributions in September this year.

Vaccine passports – The Government was planning to introduce ‘vaccine passports’ within England for certain venues.

The plans were dropped only two weeks later.

Brexit immigration – As the lorry driver crisis came to a head, Boris Johnson was forced to relax rules on immigration to fill the gap left by workers who departed the UK due to Brexit.

Owen Paterson – Mr Johnson defended his plans to scrap current parliamentary standards system to save Owen Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, from being suspended for breaching lobbying rules.

He backed down the next day, resulting in Mr Paterson’s resignation.

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