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The responsibility Boris Johnson can’t duck

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Westminster Boris Johnson won the election, but can he fulfil his promises?

So the least wanted and oddest election of my lifetime is over, and the result has been a fairly emphatic victory for blond ambition. And just as we predicted in November’s IN, the NHS was invoked in various unedifying ways during the campaign. Dubious double counting of nurse numbers and hospital building programmes; a dodgy dossier of privatisation claims which stole the bandwidth from Labour’s actual health manifesto; and claim and counter-claim around a picture of a little boy lying on coats for want of a hospital bed.

Boris Johnson, whose own campaign was a compressed version of a career based on bluster and evading difficult questions, produced the oddest moment of the month when a reporter tried to show him a picture of the boy; he simply pocketed the phone it was on and moved on.

Mr Johnson now sits on a commanding parliamentary majority, which gives him a huge amount of power to shape policy, but also considerable responsibility. He will now be under pressure to personally honour those cheques he wrote during the bitter Brexit campaign of 2016 – chief among them the pledge of extra NHS funding. He will also have to make good on his pledge to sort out social care, and an influx of new MPs from the North and the Midlands may lead him to take a more pro-active approach to social issues and public services than Conservative governments are wont to do. Stranger things have happened...

But for good or for bad, Mr Johnson now finally owns the uncertain and often toxic political landscape he helped to create for uncertain motives. He can no longer just slip an uncomfortable situation into his pocket to deal with later. We will discover very quickly if his ability can match the ruthless ambition.

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