The UK: Policy as a Game of Two Halves

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In the first instance, the pandemic bolstered executive hegemony and consolidated the place of advisors within the core executive. This provided the Johnson government with a degree of autonomy and enabled it to abandon “herd immunity” and implement a dramatic policy U-turn and then, as the lockdown continued, resist pressure within the Conservative Party and from business lobbies to reopen swiftly. At the same time, however, the first phases of the crisis exposed the profound limits to central state capacity and the structural weaknesses of the British state apparatus. It could not prevent per capita mortality rates that were at that point far in excess of most other nations nor deliver on its many policy commitments. This in turn brought the devolved administrations and local government to the fore in ways that could not have been anticipated. Nonetheless, despite all of this, the early roll-out of a vaccine during early 2021 provided substantial political capital for the government that enabled it to mitigate much that had gone before, merged at times with Brexit discourses, and paved the way for UK politics to return to its pre-crisis developmental path.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGovernments' Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic in Europe : Navigating the Perfect Storm
EditorsKennet Lynggaard, Mads Dagnis Jensen, Michael Kluth
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9783031141447
ISBN (Electronic)9783031141454
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 02 December 2022.


  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • Government responses
  • Comparative politics
  • European studies
  • Crisis management

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