Raring-to-go Boris is back to meet the challenge of his life

boris johnsonPhilip Evans: My Isolation Diary – Day 40 (April 27 2020)

BORIS is back – not before, I suggest, major cracks were about to appear within the fractious ranks of the Tory party, including Cabinet members, over the necessity to give details of how and when lockdown measures could begin to be lifted.

I had just sat down to write this diary entry, after taking my early morning stroll along the seafront, when it was announced a lectern had appeared in Downing Street and a statement was expected from the Prime Minister, back to work today after his recovery from COVID-19 which, he admitted, “could have gone either way”.

Whatever you think about Boris, the man can certainly make a speech.

His address to the nation this morning was probably the most important he has had to make since taking office following his landslide General Election victory and finally getting Brexit done.

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” – that’s how Churchill’s elevation to wartime Prime Minister was described and many of the Boris fan club used the same simile to greet his arrival at Number 10.

Whilst it told us very little, Boris’ return to work speech had an inspirational feel to it with a number of key sentences that made it perfectly clear his government is not about to concede any ground to the so-called Tory grandees who are demanding the lifting of measures to get Britain moving again.

Compared to the rather drab pronouncements of his stand-in deputy, Dominic Raab, his speech was indeed inspirational with his characteristic emphasis of such phrases as “we ask you to contain your impatience”, “decisions will be taken with the maximum possible transparency”, and “I have no doubt we will emerge stronger than ever”.

I was pleased he said that he would bring in the opposition parties where possible, as I think this is essential in the most challenging times this country has experienced since the last war. And I believe Labour’s new leader, Sir Keir Starmer, can be an asset in being part of the decision-making process.

Boris concluded by tapping into the great affair this country is enjoying with the indomitable “optimism and energy” of Captain Tom Moore, who has raised nearly £30million for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden before his 100th birthday this week.

The Prime Minister confirmed that preparations were being made for the lifting of lockdown measures but was adamant these would not be implemented until the government’s five criteria to beat the virus have been reached. So munch then for The Daily Telegraph’s lead story this morning saying “Johnson to ease lockdown this week”.

Boris, reported to be “full of energy and raring to go”, is chairing a meeting of his ‘war’ cabinet this morning and one thing he has to do is move quickly in quelling this insurgence form the so-called grandees.

I’m confused by this word “grandee”. The dictionary meaning is “a person of high rank or eminence”. It was used to distinguish MPs or Peers but now seems to include billionaires with an inflated opinion of their entitlement telling the government what to do.

Despite Boris’ impassioned plea to stick to the government’s ‘Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives’ mantra, it is inevitable that they will soon have to relent and announce their strategy for lockdown release to appease the growing concern about the long term effect on the economy.

I read an interesting article this morning by John Caudwell, philanthropist and founder of Phones 4U, in which he says the best way of going about it would be through a phased lifting of lockdown based on geography.

If that is the case then surely the South West would be the first to benefit as the number of cases and deaths in this region are less than anywhere in the country with the graph showing a consistent decline. Or is that wishful thinking?

Construction is back to work from today, I understand, and there was much more activity this morning on the upper level of the Marine Parade where contractors are renewing the surface and erecting a balustrade to replace the railings at a cost of £600,000.

It was also good to see the workmen employed by Dorset Council, who keep the Marine Parade is such good order, down on their hands and knees removing the weeds that are growing through the tarmac.

It would be good if the town council could follow suit in other areas of the town when their outside team return to work as there are a number of minor streets in the town that are in a terrible state. After all, they do employ a lengthsman.

With the pressure on local authorities, especially Dorset Council, which will incur an additional £54million in costs if lockdown continues throughout the summer, these sorts of task might well have to be carried out by volunteers or our streets will be left to deteriorate.

Uplyme already do this with villagers turning out to keep the roadside verges clear so perhaps the people of Lyme can be encouraged to do likewise when we emerge from this crisis.

lifeboat shout divers
Lyme Regis and Exmouth lifeboats, with HMS Tyne pictured in the background (photo by Andy Butterfield)

I can’t let today’s diary entry pass without commenting on the stupidity of the divers who had to be rescued in Lyme Bay over the weekend. Their rescue required the service of two lifeboats (Lyme and Exmouth) and two helicopters as well as assistance from a passing ship, HMS Tyne, who located the missing diver.

They came from Edinburgh and Cornwall and gave their address as a mobile home. I understand they decided to go diving because “they were bored”. They ended up getting a £60 fine but just think how much it must have cost to call out all those emergency services?

The big positive to come from this is that it was a fine example of how the emergency services, including our own lifeboat, worked together to save a life.

Martin Luther King Jr got it right when he said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.

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