However, this reliance on (and success of) his Brexit persona, as opposed to his previous incarnation as the liberal-conservative Mayor of London, means that combative, confrontational style of politics is a must in the DNA of any government he leads.

Observers fear that taking this flavor of politics from the campaign trail to government might make central government too thinly stretched and chaotic for handling the dovetailed crises of a pandemic and Brexit.

CNN reached out to Downing Street but a spokesperson declined to comment on the record.

Constant source of controversy

There is an immediate concern that the government’s single-mindedness on Brexit has in itself hampered its handling of the pandemic. “This government doesn’t want to be seen to need the EU in any sense, which, in my view, resulted in its choice not to participate in joint procurement schemes at the start of the pandemic,” says Menon. Earlier in the crisis, the UK opted not to work with the EU in its vaccine scheme or its ventilator procurement program.

Others suspect that Johnson’s personal investment in Brexit takes up crucial government resources. “On one hand, you have a pandemic which you could not plan for … on the other you have Brexit, which you campaigned (for) and won on and you need to give it attention if it’s going to end well,” says Salma Shah, a former Conservative government adviser.

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