The chief medical officer seems the only person left we can trust to tell us the harsh truth on Covid

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In these exceptionally grim times we’re all – Boris Johnson included – looking for a saviour to rise from these streets. And right now that salvation appears to be the England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty. Just about the only person left whom anyone can trust to tell the country the naked truth about coronavirus.

For months now, we’ve grown used to ministers being sent out on the morning media round to sell the latest U-turn. But sometime over the weekend, someone in Downing Street’s communications team realised many people tended not to take ministers all that seriously. They would hear the horrifying death statistics and still come up with a way of adapting lockdown guidance to their own convenience. And after Dominic Cummings got away with ignoring the rules during the first lockdown, who could really blame them. The rules were seen as an aspiration, not a binding necessity.

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