An ardent Boris Johnson supporter has leapt to the prime minister’s defence after it emerged the country’s leader missed five COBRA meetings in the lead up to the coronavirus outbreak.
The man, known as John from Guildford, told LBC listeners during the James O’Brien show: ‘I think this is a great big media blow-up. Do you honestly think that Churchill would have spent his time during the war at COBRA meetings?
‘He had better things to do. He was running the country. He was running the war.’
When told Johnson’s absence during a time of national emergency was because he was on holiday, the man replied: ‘Well, everyone has a holiday.’
O’Brien said: ‘You’ve come on the radio to say that Churchill was far too busy leading the war effort to attend COBRA meetings.
‘I’ve pointed out that Boris Johnson was on holiday and you’ve, with respect, fallen apart a bit.’
Referring to the Sunday Times piece which described the government ‘sleepwalking’ within the first 38 days of this crisis, O’Brien said: ‘Brexit has also appeared in this report because some of the reasons given for our failure to be properly prepared for the pandemic, particularly in PPE and elsewere, is that too many people have been on to prepare for no-deal Brexit duty.’
John said he was not defending the prime minister but was calling out ‘the press for making a fuss out of nothing’.
The government has since come out defending its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying that not all COBRA meeting need to be attended by the prime minister and that any information discussed during the secretive sessions are relayed to Number 10 by the relevant minister.