Boris Johnson has told the country to ‘move on’ – because Dominic Cummings clearly won’t be

The prime minister has decreed the public are sick of ‘politicians squabbling’, when what they’re really sick of is his chief aide not being sacked

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 27 May 2020 20:44 BST
Boris Johnson says he's not sure an inquiry into Dominic Cummings is a 'very good use of official time'

“It is now time to move on,” so said Boris Johnson. “The country wants us to move on.”

He hasn’t asked the country, of course. If he had done, he would find the same thing that every polling company has found, upwards of twenty times in the last six days, which is that what the country wants is not to move on but for Dominic Cummings to be sacked, after which it would move on very quickly, but which Johnson hasn’t done.

When Scotland’s chief medical officer was found breaking the rules of lockdown, Scotland had moved on within about nine hours. It moved on the moment the chief medical officer did the decent thing and moved on.

But as you don’t need an NHS tracing app that doesn’t work to know that Johnson is yet to be found in the same hemisphere as the decent thing, it is now other people’s fault that we have not been allowed to move on.

Appearing via video link to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, and looking like a cauliflower that’s been grown in the dark, this lack of moving forward, for which he and nobody else is 100 per cent responsible, was not what the nation wanted, and was now to blamed on others.

“The British people want us to lay aside party political point scoring and put the national interest first,” he said.

The reason they are confused by the lockdown rules having been retrospectively bent to accommodate Dominic Cummings eye sight test drive was down to everyone but Johnson and Cummings.

“When they hear nothing but politicians squabbling and bickering it is no wonder that they feel confused,” he said.

Because now is the time to move on. I have failed to do the right thing and everybody’s sick and tired of you telling me to do it. You know I won’t do it, so stop going on about it.

This is the problem with narcissists. Though it might feel like Boris Johnson’s bluster and blame deflection is strategic, it may in fact be a medical condition. The fault must always lie with someone else.

The thing that it is time to move on to is the new test and tracing programme, which has now been officially launched. It will be “world beating”, Boris Johnson said, before clarifying that it isn’t “world beating” yet, but it will be “in a few days”. It’s not clear why Johnson has insisted on it being described as world beating, when the public would gladly lap up anything that’s barely functional.

But this is the sort of drivel people come out with when they don’t have an actual idea in their head. See Donald Trump, of course, but also see Johnson, fighting an election campaign in which all he could promise was to “make Britain the greatest place in the world to live”.

Six months have not yet passed, and all the nations of the world have found themselves competing, in a fair fight to defeat the same virus, and the “greatest place in the world to live” now has the highest death toll in Europe, and one of the highest per capita in the world, so let’s just put it down as work in progress for now.

When the test and trace programme was first announced, during one of Johnson’s many Fisher Price My First Statesman addresses to the nation, he explained how it would allow the authorities to know where localised outbreaks of the virus were occurring, and swiftly increase or decrease measures in response.

That programme is live, as of now. What is unfortunate, though, is that to accommodate Cummings’s cross country adventures, several members of Johnson’s government, from the transport secretary to the communities secretary, have gone on television to explain that, actually, contrary to what every last person in the country believed, it was always fine to drive across the country in search of the most convenient kind of childcare, even if you end up not using it.

And it was also fine if both you and your wife thought you probably had coronavirus at the time. And if you then needed to call an ambulance and take yourself into hospital, as Cummings’s wife did, exposing ambulance workers and hospital staff to it, then also, no problem. If you do that, then you’re “doing the right thing”.

So it does pose one or two problems for the world-beatability of Johnson’s test and trace programme. Well, it will have to be world beating.

The current world beaters are Germany and South Korea, but even they might struggle to implement the kind of test and trace programme that we need. Ours will have to sniff out and shut down local outbreaks, at the same time as telling parents to drive 250 miles across the country at the first touch of a cough.

At one point, Yvette Cooper explained to the prime minister that the “exceptional circumstances” Cummings found himself in, which is to say, not having the preferred family members nearby to look after the children, is the same exceptional circumstance faced by 25 per cent of parents.

And that those 25 people are now at liberty to do the exceptional thing that Johnson has made exception to allow the exceptional Cummings to do.

It was this that compelled him to tell Cooper to stop political point scoring. Yes yes, just pack it in, and embrace Johnson’s unique brand of exceptionalism.

No one is yet sure what that is. All Britain has been shown to be exceptional under his and Cummings’s supervision is preventably dying. Or, as the prime minister likes to say, time to move on, long before its time to do so.

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