‘Coronavirus would test any Government – this one has been breathtakingly incompetent’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces the second lockdown during a media briefing on Saturday Pict

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces the second lockdown during a media briefing on Saturday Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire - Credit: PA

It’s hard to imagine a bigger public policy failure than Boris Johnson’s new national lockdown.

For weeks the Prime Minister has set his face against a short, two week “circuit-breaker” lockdown. He has now been forced into a much longer, four-week plus lockdown.

This was not only predictable – it was predicted.

The Government was warned by scientists at the end of September that they needed to act fast.

Just two weeks ago I wrote that a national lockdown was “inevitable” and that “the longer the Government delays, the longer the lockdown will have to last and the more damage it will cause”.

But, as usual, Boris Johnson dithered and delayed.

The Prime Minister is not the only one to blame. Although he claims he is “following the science” in fact he pays far more attention to backbench Conservative MPs who have been clamouring for already inadequate restrictions to be relaxed further.

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Ipswich’s MP Tom Hunt is one of them. Just hours before the new lockdown was announced, with infection rates in Ipswich soaring, he was – unbelievably – on the front page of the EADT calling for fans to be let back into football stadiums.

These Conservative MPs are not protecting the economy as they claim but wrecking it. A two-week lockdown at the end of September would have caused far less economic damage than four weeks in the run-up to Christmas.

Most retailers make the majority of their annual sales in the six weeks prior to Christmas. Many will now be shut for at least a third of this crucial period.

Coronavirus would test any government but this one has been found utterly wanting and breathtakingly incompetent.

Billions of pounds have been wasted on a Track and Trace system that still isn’t working.

Thousands of people have already been made redundant due to furlough ending – only for it to be extended at the last minute.

Even the press conference to announce the lockdown was a farce.

Boris Johnson’s government is simply not up to the job and more people are going to die than necessary, more businesses are going to go bust than necessary and more people are going to lose their jobs than necessary because of it.

• David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.