Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Image Credit: Ador Bustamante/Gulf News

Since the New Year, the United Kingdom has become increasingly engrossed by the political scandal surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson and just what he knew about parties taking place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and its necessary restrictions on social gatherings.

While the outcome of the episode may very well be determined on the contents of a report being prepared now by a senior civil servant, it’s worth remembering that Britain faces a litany of issues that need the focus and attention of the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and Her Majesty’s Government.

For starters, Covid-19 is still far from over, and while we would hope that the Omicron variant and the lessening of restrictions brought in as result are indeed a positive step in finally closing this pandemic, there is still much work that needs to be done in making sure Britain’s National Health Service recovers from the unprecedented demand on its services and human resources.

Tough times

In the coming weeks, most Britons with jobs will feel their paycheques a little lighter as a rise in National Insurance premiums kick in to pay for social care for the elderly and infirm. The increased premiums will also coincide with new annual price caps for natural gas used to heat most homes and power workplaces across the nation.

Statistics released earlier this week show that inflation is at a level not seen since the mid-90s, placing pressure on employers and employees alike.

This cost-of-living crisis needs the full attention of the UK government to ensure that its strained finances remain intact, and that the household incomes of many Britons can sustain the impact of higher prices on most goods, services and energy.

While contents of lockdown parties have been playing out in the headlines, there are growing international tensions unfolding between Ukraine and Russia. Britain, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a leading member of Nato, needs to focus on ensuring that every diplomatic path is followed to ensure continued stability where East meets West.

In Afghanistan too, where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding, the UK has a key role to play. As a nation that had boots on the ground and withdrew in August, its leadership now could be pivotal in making sure food and aid gets to where it is most needed while recognising the practicalities of the Taliban being in power.

It would be unfortunate if Britain dropped the ball at this critical juncture.