Doesn’t a year go fast when life as you know it stops?
Which is how the annual Tory conference has managed to roll around again.
Today all eyes are on Boris Johnson and what his speech will indicate about his plans for 2021.
In 2019, he was in fighting mode.
2020 – after a pandemic, a serious illness and a general air of fatigue surrounding him – might see a different story unfold.
But it’s a good time to revisit the various promises and pledges Johnson made a year earlier.
Because there were quite a few.
And even less of them were delivered on.
Here’s five promises Boris Johnson didn’t keep from last year’s Tory conference.
1. That under “no circumstances” would Brexit bring “checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland” and he would “respect the Good Friday Agreement”
Many times in 2019 while trying to get his deal through, did Johnson promise that there would be no hard border in Ireland.
In his conference speech, he put it in no uncertain terms.
“We will under no circumstances have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“We will respect the peace process and the Good Friday agreement”.
Unfortunately, like many Boris promises, that now looks like it’s out the window.
If there is a no-deal Brexit – which is currently looking more and more likely – the EU has said a hard border in Ireland will happen.
Meanwhile, the latest Brexit-related legislation to be making its way through Parliament, the Internal Market Bill, threatens the Good Friday Agreement to the degree that US Democrats have warned last month that there will be no trade deal with the US if it’s passed.
Good going Boris.
2. That he would “get Brexit done”
This is one of Johnson’s favourite lines and he didn’t fail to trot it out at the conference.
“Let’s get Brexit done,” he said towards the end of the speech.
While we’re in a transition period of leaving the EU, Brexit is nowhere near ‘done’.
In fact, Johnson’s ‘oven-ready’ trade deal has yet to be agreed upon and ratified.
And time is running out for it to be agreed on, especially as negotiators are locked into disagreements over Northern Ireland.
So less ‘oven-ready’ and more ‘needs fully defrosting’.
3. That he would “turbo-charge” the Scottish fishing sector
The speech included another classic Johnson line – focusing on something quite niche to make a limp pun about turbo/turbot in order to criticise then-SNP leaders Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.
“We want to turbo-charge the Scottish fishing sector,” he said. “They would allow Brussels to charge for our turbot”.
A year on, is the Scottish fishing sector turbo-charged?
In fact the entire future of the industry is at ‘risk’.
This is partly due to the unforeseen pandemic but it’s also because of – wait for it – Brexit and the potential cost the failure to decide on a deal will have (around £34m a year).
Yep, the very thing Boris promised would ‘turbo-charge’ the industry.
4. That he was going to raise the “productivity of the whole of the UK”
Johnson can’t be exactly blamed for the pandemic reducing the productivity of the UK to almost zero. That's Covid-19's fault.
But he is the person in charge of the response to the disease.
People in Wuhan are currently going clubbing, so effectively have authorities dealt with the virus. New Zealand's economy is speeding back up too.
But here? Well, let’s just say it’s a very different story. There's been U-turn after U-turn and now there's a 10pm pub curfew that virtually everyone seems to dislike.
We’re basically on pause until there’s a vaccine, and who knows when that will appear?
5. That he would “bring this country together”
Thought the UK was divided before? Just wait until you see it now.
According to a new study from King’s College London, the easing of lockdown has actually made it worse.
Data has revealed that the country has split into “three broad but distinct groups” with “different levels of fear about Covid-19 [...] and levels of trust in the government”.
“We went into the lockdown incredibly unified, with nine in 10 of the public supporting the measures,” said Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London of the study.
“But we’re becoming much more divided on the way out. In particular, our views are now aligning much more clearly with our underlying political identities”.
Can’t wait to see what promises he’ll be breaking this time next year.