Dan Wootton: Boris Johnson's speech shows he has no clear plan to avoid a dreaded winter of discontent

'I hope I'm wrong'

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Boris Johnson today invoked the spirit of Margaret Thatcher while overseeing a disturbing regime of higher taxes, a nanny state, draconian controls on the way we live our lives and record borrowing.

Many senior Tories are furious at the way the PM has turned his back on the party’s traditional values. Take former Brexit Minister Steve Baker who bemoaned today…

"We're all socialists now. We are grinding miserably forward doing Ed Miliband's Labour Party policies, and we're hating it every minute and trying to claim it’s conservatism and that really our hearts are somewhere else. But eventually the public will look at what we're doing and say well, they say their heart's somewhere else – but look what they're doing."

And then there’s the Boris’ previously inconceivable split with big business, who senior party sources are blaming for the current supply chain crisis for being “drunk on cheap labour”. Furious Craig Beaumont of The Federation of Small Businesses summed it up best, telling Politico’s Playbook today…

The party of business is just walking off the pitch…all we get from a Conservative conference is a heady mix of tax hikes and blame. Not a single small business person wants uncontrolled migration; it’s a completely false fiction.

"Inflation is rising, employment costs are up, 50,000 more people will join the unemployed, energy bills are up, fuel’s hard to find. The problems with recruitment, skills and pay are local and under government’s control – this is where it needs to discover its guts and grit.”

But Liz Barnes – the boss of wet wipes firm FreshWipes – put it more bluntly. She raged…

“If he likes alliteration, Boris can shove his butter up his backside.”

I like Boris personally very much – it’s almost impossible not to – and I will him to succeed. But there was a moment in his speech today that left me fuming.

As I wrote in my column for MailOnline…

“It’s appalling to me that an unprecedented lockdown that has caused so much misery – to our health, to our very way of life and to our economy – has become a punchline.

“It’s largely Boris’ reaction to the pandemic, not Brexit, that has left us facing this current crisis.

“No one questions our unrivalled vaccine rollout – it was sensational.

"But we allowed that advantage to get away from us by maintaining draconian, economy-destroying regulations to remain in place for far too long.”

There were positives, however. Boris finally had the balls to demand white-collar workers return to the office.

And he provided a stoic defence of his political hero Winston Churchill who the woke mob are trying to cancel for being racist.

But, as gas prices continue to surge and the supply chain crisis gets worse, today’s speech provided little hope that Boris has a clear plan to avoid a dreaded winter of discontent.

I hope I’m wrong.