Boris Johnson alone is responsible for lockdown-ending delay | Matt Mohan-Hickson

Boris Johnson is the wrong man to be leading the country during a time of crisis.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 5:54 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 6:27 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson  during a televised press conference at 10 Downing Street on February 22, 2021 in London, England. Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a televised press conference at 10 Downing Street on February 22, 2021 in London, England. Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images

This is not exactly a hot take or even a unique one to come up with.

It has been clear for around 15 months now that he is not up to the task.

Johnson is far more of a fair weather kind of leader, he craves popularity and adoration.

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Perhaps in some alternate reality where 2020 was just another year, he might have been in his element, but that is just playing at counterfactuals and this is not a science-fiction novel.

In this reality, he has shown over and over and over and over that he is not willing to make the hard decisions during this pandemic.

Delaying the second lockdown – and then only having it last four weeks – as an example.

After the utter dreadful gloom of January and February, the incredibly successful vaccine roll out finally seemed to offer us our final way out of this whole Covid mess.

The government – and Dame Kate Bingham in particular – did an uncharacteristically excellent job in procuring vaccines and then organising the roll out together with the NHS.

But Boris Johnson’s incompetence at handling this pandemic decided to rear its head one last time.

As India went through a truly catastrophic wave and the Delta variant had been identified, the simple and obvious answer was to properly quarantine arrivals in hotels.

Instead our Prime Minister kept India off the red list – allowing millions of people to fly into the country and the Delta variant took root. It is now the dominant strain of the virus in this country.

There is a real delicious sense of irony about the man who was the face of a campaign to ‘take back control’ of our borders, completely fumbling the ball at a time when strong border controls were needed the most.

All of which means that ‘Freedom Day’ has been pushed back by four weeks and the blame for this lies solely at the feet of Boris Johnson and his dithering in putting India on the red list.

It is the prudent choice, given that cases have started to trend upwards again – Hampshire has seen 200 plus cases confirmed in a day for the first time in weeks.

Fingers crossed with the vaccines it will be a different wave this time, with far less unnecessary loss of life.

Why are we supposed to trust Dominic Cummings?

Barnard Castle: A place that until May 2020 I mostly associated with playing rugby, since it was one of the regular away trips from my youth team days.

Then the ‘eye sight test’ incident and, well, I probably don’t have to remind you about the utter shambles of it all.

Fast forward one year and we are suddenly all supposed to take everything Dominic Cummings says at face value?

His one man scorched earth campaign against his former employer – and the government writ large, but not Rishi Sunak for whatever reason – is certainly entertaining.

Plus it is always good to get some confirmation of the fact that Boris Johnson is exactly the waffling, indecisive and useless leader that he appears to be.

But I do find it quite hard to truly trust all of these ‘revelations’. Cummings is an unreliable narrator, he lied about Barnard Castle and he edited his own blog to make it look as if he’d had foresight of the coronavirus pandemic.

His claims may align with my views on the Prime Minister and the government, but I do find myself taking everything Cummings says with a huge pinch of salt.

Euros are making me fall in love with football again

I have found myself slowly falling out of love with football over the last year or so.

Maybe it was how soulless it felt in empty stadiums or just the general fatigue of the pandemic.

It could have also been that my team – Middlesbrough – went off the boil months ago and the season just meandered to the end.

But I was becoming less and less interested. I skipped watching the big matches – I missed both the 2020 and 2021 Champions League finals, by choice.

Yet, now that the Euros have rolled around I have slipped back into full-blown football mode.

My brain is full of calculations, trying to work out what each match means in terms of advancing from groups or being eliminated – plotting England’s best route through the knockout stages.

Football is suddenly appointment viewing again. Poland vs Slovakia? I will be there to watch it.

It is possibly just the excitement of a major international tournament, but I think it is something deeper than that – the return of fans has just been so transformational.

The sound that a few thousand fans made at Hampden Park in Scotland’s first group game was a thing of beauty.