PANDEMIC politics, lifting travel restrictions and a crime crackdown were the issues raised by columnists in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Stephen Glover said the Prime Minister hasn’t had to reveal his hand because of Covid.

“The pandemic has dominated everything. It consumed most of his energy and time, and nearly took his life,” he said. “Not that it can be said he has played a blinder. There has been confusion, contradiction and incompetence — as we have seen during the nonsense of the ‘pingdemic’.”

He said Covid appears to be ebbing away and that creates a problem, as well as an opportunity, for Boris Johnson.

“Whether he likes it or not, we are at last going to see what he is really made of.

“After the national trauma of Covid, people’s hopes and expectations are very high. Particularly in deprived former Labour ‘Red Wall’ seats in the North and the Midlands, many yearn for an honest politician who finally does what he promises. As Covid recedes, a new era begins. There will be a horrendous backlash if Boris Johnson fails to deliver.”

The Independent

Andrew Grice said that in allowing fully vaccinated people to enter the UK from the EU and US without quarantine from next Monday, Boris Johnson and his ministers overrode warnings by scientific advisers that the move involved a “clear public health risk.”

“The move is another calculated gamble by the man described as The Gambler by the biography of that name by Tom Bower,” he said. “But a government that came to power pledging to “protect our borders” has been decidedly weak when it comes to international travel.

“Many voters like Johnson because “he is not a typical Conservative.” But they don’t want their prime minister to gamble with people’s lives.”

The Guardian

Martin Kettle said it was not difficult to see why Boris Johnson’s first post-isolation photo op was to appear alongside the home secretary, Priti Patel, and talk tough about crime.

“Ministers are keen to wrench the political argument towards a post-Covid domestic agenda,” he said. “What better way, meanwhile, to signal a return to supposed political normality than to reprise that old Conservative favourite, a dose of law and order?

“If the Johnson government was as engaged with crime and policing as it claims, it would never have snubbed the police as it has done over pay, or made such deep cuts to the police and the criminal justice system. Patel’s claim in the Daily Mail this week that “From day one as home secretary, I’ve made clear that I will back the police” does not withstand scrutiny in policy terms. But it makes total sense in terms of political theatre.”