Only one question matters to the Cabinet now: what would Boris do?
Like millions of others, the news hit me like a punch:
The political and practical impacts have been seismic. Johnson’s worldview, instincts and personality make him the best possible leader to battle the coronavirus crisis, and his presence at the top of the (digital) Cabinet table is sorely missed. The Government’s performance these past 10 days would have been significantly improved had he – and his adviser Dominic Cummings, also badly affected but now recovering – been in full control.
It is imperative, therefore, that Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Johnson, begins every meeting with a simple question to the rest of the Cabinet: What would the boss be doing in our place? How would he be imposing his will on Whitehall? How can we try to do as he would?
The first order of business for those now wearing Johnson’s shoes is that the Cabinet should urgently be mapping out an exit strategy from the lockdown, as announced in other countries. Fatalities are surging to unbearable levels, but the peak will hopefully be reached soon, and after that the situation will look less atrocious. The lockdown can’t last very long, or else the country will be plunged into a crisis that could take decades to fix. Johnson, a freedom lover, understands this intuitively; the rest of the public sector establishment, not so much.
But this must be accompanied by a plan to contain and annihilate the coronavirus. Which shops should reopen first, and when should school restart? Should the vulnerable be told to continue to self-isolate, and the young allowed back first? What about mass tracing? Or “immunity passports”? It’s about sustainability, but also speed: the economy is collapsing.
If Johnson were around, all of this would surely be on the agenda. We cannot afford “adaptive triggering”, regular returns to partial or total lockdowns if the virus surges back over the next 18 months until a vaccine is developed (why so long?). This would rob business of certainty, destroy investment and ensure a debilitating L-shaped recovery.
The next way in which Johnson’s presence is missed is in his dealings with the machinery of state. The logistical failures surrounding personal protective equipment, the stunning lack of urgency over testing and the hopeless inability of the Treasury and HMRC to deliver help quickly confirm that the UK is sorely lacking in “state capacity”. That, for years, was exactly the Cummings/Johnson critique. State structures reward incompetence and unresponsiveness; the performance of Public Health England (PHE), in particular, has been disgraceful. The armed forces are the only exception: their ability to help build NHS Nightingale was awe-inspiring.
So what would Johnson and Cummings be doing? Change must be rammed through. The Treasury should be given another kicking. PHE should be stripped of its broader responsibilities, which should be handed to a senior business figure. It should then be given a massive budget, and told to do whatever it takes to turbocharge testing to millions a day as soon as possible, procure ten times more protective equipment (first for the NHS but then for the rest of society) and drastically speed up vaccine research. Land must be found and factories built and tooled in a matter of days. It is madness that the private sector, which has performed superbly with ventilators in particular, isn’t being allowed to help more. It should be leveraged to the maximum, as in America, where Apple’s supply chain is procuring millions of masks.
In an act of monumental generosity, Bill Gates is spending billions to build factories for the seven most promising potential vaccines, even though each can only make one particular variety, at least five will turn out to be duds and therefore most of the cash will be wasted: he wants production to commence as soon as the first vaccine gets signed off, so is hedging his bets. Why aren’t we doing the same? There isn’t enough supply, from protective kit to potential palliative drugs, so why not build more capacity in Britain?
Lord Bethell’s appointment as minister for testing was a good idea, but even more is needed. Somebody such as the brilliant Lord Wolfson, boss of Next, should be brought in alongside him as CEO in charge of production, procurement and logistics, tasked with making everything from masks to vaccines, with just one mission: every day counts. This would be the ultimate Johnsonian grand projet.
Last but not least, “following the science” is hard. Does it make sense to close schools? A UCL study says no; others disagree. Should we wear masks? Many scientists now believe so; ours don’t. In early January, the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group deemed the risk to the UK to be “very low”; by January 21, it was still “low”, as an investigation from Reuters reveals. Experts can get it terribly wrong. To govern is to choose.
On Monday night, my family prayed, in our different ways, for the PM to get well. In times such as these, and in such a theologically important week in particular, religion offers one possible refuge from the now obviously idiotic and delusional modernist view that we were on a holiday from history, a new, rationalist and especial invincible mutation of homo sapiens.Read more: The Telegraph »
Stop with the Messiah worship. It is truly weird, and ruins any chance for your once serious newspaper to be held in any regard by objective-minded people. Surely it should be what is the advice that our scientists are telling us and what has worked in other countries? We managed from the dawn of time until 4 months ago without him
Why? Isn’t there a procedure in place in case the PM in incapacitated?’ What kind of drivel is this at a time of National Crisis 😡😡😡 Find a woman a lot younger than him, fuck her, then tell his wife it didnt happen? It doesn't matter what Boris would do, it matters what the Cabinet thinks is the correct thing to do. You sound as though Boris is a dictator and the Cabinet are scared of making the correct decision, incase it goes against the dictators wishes. Grow up as newspaper!
Can they not talk to him or text him -other people in same position use text and if running a business will stay in touch ! MSM be realistic the rest of us are Only one question matters to those who work for the telegraph. Did I really go to journalism school for this? Lie, deceive and bluster. He'd find a fridge....
You mean these 'capable' people are incapable of having a decent thought between them. Not much confidence if you have to rely on Boris Johnson. No one is that important. Ever!! Strange how Boris suddenly believes in collective cabinet responsibility when previously he would fail to follow it for previous PMs and was quite happy to ignore it when it suited him.
He’s not the dictator of Britain is he? Why the hell is that the only question that matters? Given Johnson's track record, the only question now should be 'What would Johnson do? Right, we're doing the exact opposite' Only one question matters now: what would Brian Boitano do? He would dither and delay for the whole of 2020, like a horror show.
Climb into a fridge? Hide away at Chequers? Fly out of the country on the day of a crucial vote? Walk away from his family responsibilities? That’s usually what the coward does at difficult moments You get more embarrassing and ridiculous by the day. Turn up late and unprepared to any meeting and leave early to shag the admin assistant?
Take tech classes. British patient thank for Vietnamese doctor, beautiful image for Brit citizen do not worry about Covid-19. 重篤？ I pray for Boris to get well, 🙏 Follow me Surely the only question is what is right for the country. If the cabinet cannot make a decision they should all be sacked. If they are scared of making the ŵrong one, that says a lot about the government
He’d probably hide in a fridge. Again, if the situation requires a more drastic lockdown, and the PM is currently in intensive care, then someone has to make that decision. If they can't, then they shouldn't be doing this job and they should be reminded that delay could result in even more deaths. Big fan of the but your shameful invention of cabinet panic is beneath you. Someone on your editorial team really doesn't like Raab.
Go to Mustique or Chevening... WE DON’T HAVE A PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY Blither and bluster, delay, choose the wrong policy, downplay, panic, act too late, kill thousands more than if he had listened to other countries' experience of it. Translation: How soon do we need to dump Boris? How many ERG chaps are in the running for PM? When should we announce full lockdown? i.e. martial law
May Boris and Britain get through this battle' Boris Johnson is neither old nor weak, but, as I know from several infected friends, this virus can hit some healthy people surprisingly hard' | writes Charles Moore Good job he’s not living in a care home isn’t it. Fat though. The NHS is the closest thing the UK has to socialism so if you’re a true Tory like Charles Moore you should hate everything about it and be proud of the fact
Coronavirus: Dominic Raab and cabinet able to take military action in Boris Johnson's absenceQuestions are asked about how the government functions - including if there's a military threat - while the PM is in hospital. I doubt any of those right honourable persons would have the first clue about anything military. The first rule of military action is responsibility for one's own actions. Something they all lack. And ? And the purpose if this story is ?
Coronavirus: Dominic Raab says 'PM's not just our boss, he's our friend'.uksciencechief says he thinks the coronavirus outbreak in the UK is 'probably three or four weeks behind Italy' - but he does not think that means Britain will see the same numbers of cases as Italy. Read more here: uksciencechief Where's this quack getting his information from? Supposed to be an eminent scientist but can't make his mind up about timescales. Admit it, you JUST DON'T KNOW! uksciencechief this will go on a & on as long as people ignore the lockdown the police need to just issue fines zero tolerance they were given the powers why ain't that using them it's not a bloody holiday
Coronavirus: Prince William and Kate wish PM 'a speedy recovery'BREAKING: The Queen has sent a message to Carrie Symonds and the Johnson family wishing BorisJohnson a full recovery. Sky's royal correspondent, SkyRhiannon has the latest. Get the latest coronavirus news: SkyRhiannon I'm Irish and I wish Boris a full recovery too. I'm might not agree with some of his policies but I wouldn't wish him to be unwell. SkyRhiannon What is breaking SKY? SkyRhiannon Defying the study room/ bookshelf background view
Why do we talk about 'fighting' illness?Dominic Raab's been criticised for his comments on Boris Johnson 's coronavirus, but is this fair? Because actually doing something about it requires a competent government Because the English translate everything in terms of strife and war. Its a cultural thing. Blimey it's just a turn of phrase. What should we say? I'm indifferently hopeful my sub cellular nodes work appropriately?
Ministers to discuss UK virus lockdown reviewPolitical leaders will evaluate the restrictions, as Boris Johnson spends a fifth day in hospital. Should the UK close up? will there be tea too late too late