The pandemic has opened up a deep rift within the Conservatives. It will grow | Polly Toynbee

How can Britain recover without greater public spending? The tax-cutting party has no answers

Something strange is happening within the political party famously ruthless in its pursuit of power and keeping hold of it. Its still popular prime minister, with an 80-seat majority, has only just marked his second anniversary, and has faced little threat from the official opposition so far. And yet Boris Johnson goes into the parliamentary recess up against a crescendo of howls from his own side. The rift opening up in the Conservative party is startling in its ferocity, and has revealed a new animosity towards its leader.

“Senior ministers”, “over half the cabinet”, “high-ranking MPs” are variously reported to be in rebellion against all the government’s key policies. Raising the national insurance rate to pay for NHS and social care has triggered profound existential angst about how to be a Tory after the Covid crisis. An erstwhile loyal press claque has turned angry and accusatory. What kind of Conservative is Johnson, anyway?

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