Mixed reviews for ‘vague’ and ‘indecisive’ PM’s exit plan
The Prime Minister’s announcement of a “road map” out of coronavirus lockdown is the talk of the nation’s papers on Monday.
Boris Johnson said the “stay home” slogan would be altered to urge Britons to instead “stay alert”, while businesses, unions and police have called for clarity on the easing of restrictions.
In addition, the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said they would continue with their current plan.
The Daily Telegraph, which formerly carried a column from Mr 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 Mr Johnson has been “paralysed by indecision, kicking himself for unforced errors, terrified of being blamed for every new death”.
However, he suggests the “public sector ‘blob'” has led Mr 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.”
Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail writes that Mr 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”, Mr 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.