Have you got Boris Johnson a card? Perhaps you should. After all, today is the second anniversary of his government’s rule and what a lot he and it have done in the last two years for us to be grateful for...
From presiding over numerous Brexit issues, to dragging the party into sleaze, it’s been a long two years – years which we’ve mostly spent locked inside.
So prepare to put your head in your hands.
Here are 12 of the biggest stories and scandals from the last two years of Tory rule.
When the Tories won the election and Britain left the EU, the government was quick to put the wheels in motion for a point-based immigration system to restrict those who could enter the UK.
Under the new rules, people have to get 70 points to even be considered worthy of crossing our shores, points which can be gained in various arbitrary ways, including speaking English, having a PhD and having a job offer in a required field
The controversial system – which replaced the EU’s free movement of people – came into effect at the start of 2021.
Exams had been cancelled due to the pandemic, but the alternative grading system and algorithm that replaced them turned out pretty shoddy and loads of students’ grades were then officially changed to ones teachers had set instead.
But sadly, this changed ended up being made too late for many to retain their places at university.
We’d give the government an F for this particular policy.
Marcus Rashford forces the government to give children free school meals
Players such as Marcus Rashford have made an impact off the field (Nick Potts/PA)PA Wire
When families who received free school meals in term time struggled to feed their children during school holidays, it was not the government that stepped up to the plate to help them but one Marcus Rashford of the England football team.
In June 2020, the footballer wrote an “open letter to all MPs in Parliament” urging them to push the government into changing its policy on free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays, triggering a government u-turn.
Later, in October that year, he launched a new petition pressing ministers to again extend free school meals through the half-term and Christmas holidays, eventually pressuring them into providing £170 million of extra funding.
The government were left looking rather miserly.
People protest controversial new policing bill
In March 2021 the Home Office unveiled some rather controversial legislation affecting people’s right to protest.
The legislation, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, gives police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests – including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, by setting time limits.
When it was announced it – somewhat ironically – triggered protests, and a huge backlash from opposition politicians and human rights groups, but the Commons passed it and it is now making its way through the House of Lords.
Race report sparks outrage
Tony Sewell was appointed chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in July 2020Change.org
Also in March this year, the government published a review into whether Britain is institutionally racist and concluded it was not. The Sewell report said that while racism does still persist across the UK, achievements in areas including education and employment make the country “a model for other white-majority countries”.
People weren’t impressed and thought the report was insulting to those with lived experience of racism. The government were left rushing to defend it, which wasn’t the best look.
The last two years of the news cycle have been dominated by a little virus zipping around and killing millions worldwide.
From a UK government policy perspective, there is quite simply too much to go into in just one article, but if you cast your mind back over the lovely period of March 2020 to infinity (maybe), we’re sure you will remember some of the various, errr, mishaps: ministers not wearing masks, the ludicrous tier system, cancelling Christmas, expensive and unworkable track and trace... the list goes on.
The decline and fall of Matt Hancock
Former health secretary Matt HancockPA
And amid the general Covid chaos stood out one Matt Hancock, who wanted to appear like a rose among thorns, but instead was spat out of the pandemic like a thorn among even bigger thorns.
Throughout his stint at health minister, he attracted criticism from the likes of former adviser Dominic Cummings for making the word “protective” in his “protective ring” around care homes do some pretty heavy lifting, as well as making some rather grand and unrealistic promises about testing... and “lying”.
Taking the knee becomes the new battle in the ‘culture wars’
Over the last two years the Conservatives have indulged in a number of petty culture wars: stoking bizarre cancel culture fights; advising people to work from home to avoid coronavirus, then complaining people are probably lazing about; waving flags, literally whenever they have the chance, and banging on about “woke” people.
Meanwhile, strict visa rules that came about as part of our post-Brexit bag of treats meant that workers had left the UK.
The government offered workers a few crumbs to EU workers, begging them to come and plug our skills gap, but they weren’t having it and we still receive warnings of further shortages almost every week.
Unsurprisingly, the opposition immediately accused Johnson of breaking promises, and many people were very unhappy indeed.
Also in November this year, a rather wonkish parliamentary dispute about standards, and whether now former MP Owen Paterson should be suspended for paid lobbying on behalf of business ended up bursting through the Westminster bubble and opening the floodgates to a world of sleaze in the Tory ranks, with more and more dirt being dug up on various MPs.
We’ve rounded up some of the more egregious sleaze incidents here, and we’ve no doubt there will be many more uncovered in the coming weeks and months.