Newspapers brand Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit plan ‘vague’ and ‘indecisive’

PUBLISHED: 09:10 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:10 11 May 2020

Front pages of The Sun and the Daily Mail after Boris Johnson's announcement. Photograph: Twitter.

Front pages of The Sun and the Daily Mail after Boris Johnson's announcement. Photograph: Twitter.

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The newspapers are focused on Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ out of the coronavirus lockdown, but there have been mixed reviews.

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The Daily Telegraph, which formerly carried a column from Johnson, has printed an opinion piece suggesting this road map had “vague directions”.

Camilla Tominey, the paper’s associate editor, writes: “For nearly two months, we stayed indoors, did what we were told and hoped the end would soon be in sight.

“Yet, in a statement that left more questions than it answered - Boris Johnson last night offered the British public a slither of light at the end of the tunnel but no ETA.”

The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh says Johnson has been “paralysed by indecision, kicking himself for unforced errors, terrified of being blamed for every new death”.


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However, he suggests the “public sector ‘blob”’ has led Johnson’s thinking, citing its warnings of “mass fatalities if the Government makes one false step”.

He adds: “Downing Street is now hostage to the health-and-safety mafia, whipped into line by opportunist public sector unions who have, to coin a phrase, taken back control.”

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Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail writes that Johnson is walking a “tightrope” between business, members of the public who are urging reopening, and “trade unions, perhaps a majority of the public, the devolved administrations (notably the scheming Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland)”.

In a piece headlined “It’s hard to see what else he could have done”, Glover writes: “Those who want Britain to get back to work almost immediately will have been disappointed, while the cautious and nervy will be worried he is going too far too quickly, and jeopardising the progress that had been made.

“The question we should ponder is whether, if any of us were in Boris Johnson’s shoes, we would act very differently. I don’t think most of us would. Let’s face it: he’s walking a tightrope, and if he leans too far in one or other direction, he is liable to fall off.”

An editorial in The Times says the prime minister was hoping to signal “a shift of emphasis, more than a radical change in the lockdown rules”.

It said: “Though public support for lockdown has held up extremely well, adherence has frayed, with some police officers reporting that they were “fighting a losing battle” over the bank holiday weekend as parkgoers took advantage of the fine weather.

“That is a battle they can now leave behind them.

“The path back to normality still looks long and treacherous. Mr Johnson tried to offer hope that, with public co-operation, an exit is within sight. But he was also clear: there is no Plan B.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror, says there is now “proof there is no crisis that Tory charlatan Boris Johnson can’t make worse”.

“Botching an easing of the lockdown was, I suppose, expected from an incompetent PM bungling the fight against the plague and lumbering Britain with Europe’s highest official death count,” he adds.

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