10 headaches in Boris Johnson’s in-tray

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LONDON — If you thought the first half of 2020 was busy, think again.

As Westminster returns from August’s lull, Prime Minister Boris Johnson picks up a hugely crowded agenda, even by the standards of British politics in recent years. Faced with a possible second wave of coronavirus infections, the pandemic’s severe economic fallout and to-the-wire Brexit trade talks with Brussels, the implications for the country — and by extension, Johnson’s Conservative government — could hardly be more stark.

Here’s POLITICO’s bluffer’s guide to how Westminster insiders think the months ahead will play out, courtesy of London Playbook’s new author Alex Wickham. You can read Alex’s first Playbook here and sign up for the morning briefing email here.

1. Back to school

First up is Tuesday’s grand reopening of English and Welsh schools (Monday is a U.K. holiday and many children in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already returned).

Downing Street and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson are increasingly bullish that things will go according to plan and children will return to classrooms, despite concerns among teachers and parents.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with head teacher Bernadette Matthews as he visits St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in east London, on August 10, 2020 to see preparedness plans implemented | Pool photo by Lucy Young/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. government faced a precarious buildup in the last week of the summer holidays with (another) U-turn on face-masks last Wednesday,

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