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A year on Boris Johnson ‘now accepts lockdown came too late’

14 Mar 2021 2 minutes Read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson now accepts that the UK locked down too late, but lays the blame at the feet of his scientific advisers.

According to the Telegraph newspaper, “close allies” of the Prime Minister – political journalism code for the man himself or his immediate circle – say that he would of he had his time again act “harder, earlier and faster”.

Boris Johnson announced a lockdown of the United Kingdom on 23 March last year, with only essential services remaining open.

England and Wales did not begin to diverge significantly until May 10, when Boris Johnson moved to a ‘stay local’ rule while Wales stuck to its ‘stay at home’ message.

According to the Telegraph, Johnson’s readiness to admit that he got the first lockdown wrong “raises the possibility of a mea culpa in a future inquiry into the handling of the pandemic”.

“[He] knows he will eventually have to confront the question of why the UK has suffered the highest death toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world.”

The Daily Telegraph was briefed that the critical moment in imposing lock-down came on March 14 last year, when Boris Johnson was shown evidence that ministers and scientific advisers had “badly miscalculated” how quickly the NHS would be overwhelmed.

According to the newspaper, which counts the Prime Minister among its former columnists, he was “stunned” to be told by a No10 data analyst that hospitals were as little as three weeks away from being past capacity.

“Mr Johnson had, until then, been making decisions based on out-of-date projections provided by government departments,” the newspaper says.

“But he waited until March 23 to issue his ‘stay at home’ order, a delay which scientists claim doubled the death toll in the first wave.”

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