It’s good that Boris Johnson is back at work. But it is embossed | Simon Jenkins | Opinion


BOris Johnson’s quick return to work is welcome. He clearly had a personal nightmare. Given the pressures on him, he deserves sympathy and congratulations. In his speech to the nation this morning, he was typically Churchillian. He says that Britain has passed through the coronavirus so far with flying colors. “Now we have to prepare to win phase two, like we won phase one.

It is difficult to know what news the Prime Minister is watching or listening to. Johnson’s language was opaque to the waffle. The British people are in the dark, more than any other in Europe. Although the statistics are still unreliable, all we know is that Britain did not perform well during the coronavirus pandemic. It is now one of the most delaying nations to ensure recovery.

The only strategy Johnson mentioned was the need to “eliminate the risk of a second peak.” There is no way to eliminate such a risk unless you never take it. But it is unacceptable to hinder the whole economy indefinitely, as Johnson has suggested, simply to stop a new infection “overwhelming our NHS”. The preparation of the NHS contributed to the fate of Great Britain. Its future “protection” is not reason enough for the magnitude of the costs currently imposed on the economy. If there is another spike, the NHS must be helped to deal with it.

The rest of Europe – an entity that Johnson despises – is already well advanced in what he probably means when he says phase two. However, his speech was devoid of details. There was no evidence to end the bias against the private health care sector, the “bloody bad infantry” of the coronavirus. As the cabinet built now largely empty Nightingale hospitals and blocked operations, the elderly and those caring for them were threatened, a blatant failure of a “nationalized” health service. If you want to nationalize well-being, nationalize everything.

Meanwhile, the illogicalities of locking become more and more absurd from day to day: the ban on benches in parks, the closing of seaside resorts and beaches, allowing supermarkets to open but no garden centers or small tradespeople. Covid-19 is clearly lethal, mainly for specific sections of the community, but the current single judgment ignores this. And if Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can have exit strategies, why not Cornwall or Yorkshire – or England? The government’s lack of confidence in English localism is pathological.

A number of hesitant conclusions can already be drawn from the statistics. The virus is highly infectious and a significant distance seems to limit its spread. But excess national deaths above the seasonal average appear to be largely linked to demography, such as age balance, population dispersion and urbanization. With the exception of a few atypical cases, very different policies of repression were not reflected in the death rates.


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