Faced with the coronavirus, Boris Johnson must stop playing the invisible man | Andrew Rawnsley

People want reliable information and reassurance that their government has got a grip: the prime minister must be seen to lead

The coronavirus crisis has sparked a worldwide race against time to try to understand its nature, contain its spread and develop a vaccine. Only in a few remote corners of the planet do people appear to be nonchalantly confident that it can’t get to them. One of those cut-off places is Downing Street. On Friday, Number 10 announced that the prime minister would finally chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, but not until Monday. Nothing must get in the way of Boris Johnson’s weekend. This is of a piece with his behaviour as the spread of the virus has escalated. He has elected to self-isolate indoors rather than take visible charge of the government’s planning and public messaging.

Those rebuking his vanishing act include the prime minister’s old frenemy George Osborne, who complained: “The British government now needs to go on to a ‘war footing’ with the coronavirus: daily NHS press briefings, regular Cobra meetings chaired by the PM, ministers on all major media shows. The public is fearful, wants information and needs to know their leaders have got a grip.” You know you are in trouble when the former chancellor is giving advice on crisis management.

Continue reading...