‘Lockdown Meltdown’ or ‘tough love’ – press reacts to delay of lockdown easing

There has been a mixed reaction in the papers to Boris Johnson’s decision to delay lockdown-easing measures, with the Daily Mirror and Daily Express taking different views of the announcement.

The Mirror slammed the move as a Lockdown Meltdown, taking issue with the perceived inconsistency of the Government’s messaging.

An editorial in the paper says: “What everyone wants is clarity and competence.

“At the moment the Government is failing to deliver either.”

Meanwhile, the Express says the delay is an example of “Boris’s tough love”.

The paper’s senior political correspondent Martyn Brown says the PM was “right to apply the brakes” to the easing of restrictions.

He added: “It is not an abrupt screech to a halt that would dramatically affect people’s lives but it will serve as a wake-up call that the battle to defeat coronavirus is far from over.

“To take action so swiftly and decisively will provide the nation with confidence and some reassurance in what are extraordinary and unpredictable times.”

The Daily Mail issues a warning to Mr Johnson not to “let this corona cure kill the economy”, adding in an editorial: “The Prime Minister described it as ‘squeezing on the brakes’.

“It felt more like slamming the car into reverse.”

The paper points to an Office for Budget Responsibility prediction that the jobless rate will peak at 12% by the end of the year.

The editorial continues: “If this is allowed to happen, with all the misery and heartbreak it would entail, let’s hope people don’t conclude that Mr Johnson’s coronavirus cure was ultimately far worse than the disease itself.”

The Guardian takes a blunt approach to the announcement, emphasising warnings from a number of experts that the delay “may not be enough to stop a rise in infection”.

The Times takes a similar path, with journalist and political editor of The Spectator James Forsyth writing a commentary piece under the headline: “If you think this is bad, just wait for winter.”

He writes: “This winter the Government could be dealing with flu, Covid, flooding… mass unemployment and all the issues arising from the end of the Brexit transition period.

“Now that the country knows what it is facing, the Government must be ready for the challenges ahead.

“There will be no excuse for being unprepared for the concurrent crises that are coming this winter.”

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