Covid: Is Boris Johnson's slowness to lockdown vice or virtue?

Boris Johnson has suggested tougher Covid measures in England could be just days away. Credit: PA

If Boris Johnson has a political philosophy it is that he will not restrict our liberties unless there is an overwhelming reason to do so.

That may prove to be sub-optimal in respect of our health and prosperity (public health and economics).

But it may also be popular, especially if his big bets on vaccines succeed - though he will have to survive the public inquiry he promised.

What is telling both in my interview last week and Sunday's on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, is he appears (for now at least) to have his confidence back.

Or to put it another way, the prime minister has chosen to make a virtue of what many criticise as his slowness to lock down in March and his refusal (against scientific and political advice) to lock down in September.

It was remarkable to hear him saying on Sunday that more restrictions on our lives are probably just days or weeks away, in the face of the rampant virus, while keeping open a glimmer of hope they may not be necessary.

What I can’t judge is whether most of you will judge this as disastrous Micawberism or prudent patience, as political cowardice or courage, as weakness or leadership.

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