Once again, the government has been taken by surprise by the coronavirus

1 week ago 1


he prime minister adopted a welcome humble tone in his two sessions of interrogation by MPs yesterday. He told Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, that she was “right to express the frustration of people across this country”, and he told Greg Clark, the Conservative former cabinet minister, who asked if we have enough testing capacity: “The short answer is, no we don’t.”

Boris Johnson did his best to suggest that capacity was being increased quickly enough to meet demand within the “few weeks” that Matt Hancock, the health secretary, had cautiously mentioned as the intended timetable.  

Yet the government cannot avoid the impression that its response to coronavirus resembles the whack-a-mole approach that Mr Johnson has said is the policy towards new outbreaks of infections. He seems to have a passive attitude to governing, responding to problems as they become crises, but always behind events rather than in control of them.

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