Boris must stand strong, take lockdown off the table and find another path

THANK the Lord!

In a rare illustration of his former strength, it has emerged that Boris Johnson briefly returned to his libertarian roots by staring down Doctor Doom Chris Whitty, the miserable scientist Patrick Vallance and the rest of the hopeless boffins on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) by refusing another nonsensical national lockdown last month.

But there are storm clouds on the horizon, with ministers today warning further restrictions to our freedoms are coming.

Lockdown zealot Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, won’t rest until the entire population is cowering at home for months on end waiting for a vaccine that the Prime Minister himself admits may never come.

We now officially know that’s what Whitty and Vallance want too, which is highly disturbing given they concede the consequences to other health emergencies like cancer, heart disease and suicide would be dire.

Just today analysis by Cancer Research UK revealed three million Brits have missed potentially life-saving cancer screenings since our first lockdown in March. I shudder to think how many excess deaths that will lead to over the course of the next decade.

Even the highly liberal World Health Organisation now concedes lockdowns lead to only one thing long-term: Poverty.

So Boris must stand strong and find another path.

But that’s where it gets more difficult because the government will be forced to admit mistakes.

The first should be to immediately axe the hated 10pm curfew that is killing off our already decimated hospitality industry and doing nothing to curb corona.

The document dump by SAGE last night conceded the enforced closing time will likely make zero difference to infection rates. There was simply no science behind the decision.

SAGE also provided a damning indictment on the government's test and trace regime and Hancock himself admitted today in Parliament that a mass testing programme is currently a pipe dream.

So the government needs to get real about a long-term plan – a plan that takes off the table for good locking down the country or removing even more of our dwindling civil liberties and freedoms.

Hancock also declared that the UK is not the kind of country that will simply lock up the elderly who are most susceptible to Covid.

But that’s the wrong way to look at it. Eminent scientists like the great Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford, instead talk of a form of “focussed protection” of those most vulnerable.

The alternative appears to be locking up our children, locking up our teenagers, locking up our university students and locking up our young adults in perpetuity instead, denying them of their adolescence and leaving them the prospect of decades of economic ruin to look forward to.

That’s not a legacy Boris Johnson wants – and that’s why he must stand strong.

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