Promised the 'Brexit' crown but in receipt of the 'Coronavirus' one, Boris finds himself besieged on many fronts. Perhaps most worrying for the Prime Minister will be the shift in the balance of power to the regional mayors, as shown by last week's showdown with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. They are positioning themselves as the anti-Westminster voice of the regions, argues Patrick Sullivan.

Britain often chooses a prime minister in order to deal with the last major crisis that the country has had to go through. This has meant that we have repeatedly had prime ministers whose talents are out of sync with the time.

Boris Johnson would have been the right prime minister in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, however, for reasons with which we are all familiar, Theresa May inherited the crown and proved ill-suited to deal with the emerging populism of the day.

Boris received an unlikely second bite at the apple three years on when he was elected to "get Brexit done". He was supposed to be the Brexit prime minister. Then came the coronavirus. It turned out that Boris' skillset, so perfect for the challenge of Brexit, was completely the opposite of what was needed to deal with a public health crisis.

In many ways, his ascension to the premiership was akin to that of Anthony Eden who had been the prospective prime minister for so long but had had to wait for Churchill's resignation. Eden, as a new prime minister, increased the Conservative majority at the general election held shortly after he took office. He was the golden boy of the Conservative Party and a beloved national figure. But then along came Suez.

The Suez crisis was a national humiliation for Britain and reflected a significant diminishing of our world power. The Tory Party in those days was a far more ruthless beast than it is today. The men in grey coats (party elders) made it clear to Eden that his days as prime minister were numbered, but in order to avoid unrest within the parliamentary party, Eden was afforded a face-saving exit where he resigned for "health reasons".

His successor, Harold MacMillan, the author of The Middle Way (1938), ushered in an era of big government conservatism and was labelled by the press "Super Mac". The Conservative Party understood that the electorate needed the page to be turned (after?) Suez, and the best way to turn the page was simply to the change the leader.

Boris has just had a lengthy and costly divorce and is starting a new family, all within the cramped Downing Street flat, whilst having to essentially build up his finances again from scratch. Westminster sources say that Mr. Johnson canot wait to get out of Downing Street.

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It would be unsurprising if, after securing the end of the transition period, Boris doesn't declare victory.

Boris will well remember when he was starting out in politics, how John Major's reputation declined steadily following Black Wednesday.

Last week, Boris stumbled into a political unforced error in his row with Manchester Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham. Burnham, who had lost the Labour leadership to Jeremy Corbyn, was widely considered to be out of national politics for good, but due to Boris' blunder he has turned into something of a folk hero in the north of England.

Labour's challenge after the 2019 election was to reclaim the red wall that they had lost. So, whilst Burnham's intervention might not have received universal approval outside of the north, understandably the people living in northern towns that have had to enter tier 3 restrictions were delighted to have somebody fighting for them, rather than against.

The metro mayors were primarily pushed into existence by George Osborne, but the unintended consequence of their creation was that many of the most talented members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, feeling the heat from the new leader Jeremy Corbyn, decided to bail on Parliament for a new political life in the regions.

In London there is Sadiq Khan, whom I might personally not have much time for, but is considered one of Labour's most talented politicians. In Sheffield, the darling of both Blairites and Brownites, Dan Jarvis, is mayor. Both Khan and Jarvis have rallied around Burnham following his dispute with the Prime Minister, for they have understood that the dynamics of British politics have shifted seismically.

Sir Keir Starmer is a man who at best will only achieve power in 2024. Until then, as leader of a minority group of MPs in Parliament, all he can do is talk the talk, being impotent to act and having responsibility without power.

This will be the case even after Boris is gone, but Boris has caused this. The metro mayors are going to become the UK equivalent of US governors. Labour in Parliament is now rendered useless, as the real power lies with the mayors who have power and influence in the regions.

Burnham and his fellow mayors are now trying to seize the populist mantle of Boris with anti-Westminster rhetoric, making the Conservatives the insiders and responsible for all the current chaos.

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