PM’s coronavirus ‘success’ claim as ‘ridiculous as Priti Patel celebrating drop in shoplifting’, says O’Brien

PUBLISHED: 13:55 27 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:12 27 April 2020

James O'Brien reviews Boris Johnson's speech after he returned to work. Photograph: LBC/Global.

James O'Brien reviews Boris Johnson's speech after he returned to work. Photograph: LBC/Global.

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Radio presenter James O’Brien has torn apart Boris Johnson’s claims that the UK response to the coronavirus has been a ‘success’.

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Johnson used a speech outside Downing Street as he returned to work to praise the success of his government’s response to coronavirus.

He said: “There will be many people looking now at our apparent success and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures.”

But O’Brien pointed out than more than 20,000 people have now died from coronavirus in hospitals - a figure likely to be double that when factoring in care homes and the community.

He compared this to the death toll of around 6,000 in Germany, and questioned how the UK’s response could be deemed a “success”.


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“None of that is opinion. It’s all fact. And yet here we are, listening to a prime minister describe our ‘apparent success’. The mind genuinely boggles.

“Let’s try to be fair.

“He could be talking about the apparent success of the lockdown (that he was late and weak in imposing).”

He continued: “The problem is that if you really want to trust someone moving forward, it’s rendered rather difficult to do if they can’t be honest about what’s just happened.

“And there is epic dishonesty involved in claiming that we have enjoyed anything that could have been described as a success.”

He added: “I suppose you could claim that he’s pointing out that the lockdown he brought in too late and too weakly has worked, and you could allow that, along as you acknowledge the weakness and tardiness of the lockdown.

“And therefore we need to stay in it.

So I’ll take that as the starting point of someone who really, really, really wants to have hope, but I can’t quite see how you’re supposed to trust someone who is already fibbing about what’s happened thus far”.

O’Brien went on compare Johnson’s dishonesty with Priti Patel’s revelation over the weekend that there had been a drop in shoplifting compared to the year before.

He continued: “’Our apparent success’? It’s almost up there with Priti Patel boasting about the fall in shoplifting!

“It was a highlight of the weekend - absolutely magnificent to hear the home secretary trumpeting a decline in shoplifting without mentioning that pretty much every shop in the country is closed.”

He concluded by questioning whether those that support the government will also defend Patel’s claims.

“Presumably if you are a cult, you will think there is something defensible in a home secretary boasting about a fall in shoplifting at a time when all the shops are shut. Quite incredible how are completely blinkered and buried so many of us seem to be.”

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