In public their MPs say he’s doing an ‘incredible’ job. But, after all the U-turns, in private the false bonhomie is failing

There is no one vignette about the government’s handling of the pandemic that “says it all”, but there will always be a broken place in my heart for the fact that at the end of the first lockdown, the government opened the pubs before the schools. Hey, give the Johnson administration a break. They’d only had three and a half months to think about it, which the likes of Gavin Williamson had instead spent not thinking about how to handle the looming exam results fiasco.

Whether ministers will make more humane and intelligent choices this time round for the millions of children in various stages of crisis is as yet tantalisingly unclear. The precedent set by their dealings with Marcus Rashford suggests that the government needs to make the same mistake many more times than an average primary school pupil before it learns.

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