COLUMNISTS rounded on the Prime Minister over his recklessness in not introducing stricter controls and following catastrophic advice - and praised Chancellor Rishi Sunak for riding to the rescue again.

The Guardian

Polly Toynbee said Boris Johnson was learning nothing from his mistakes as we face Groundhog Day again.

“ Last time, lockdown came too late, thousands of lives might have been saved and delay only prolonged the outbreak,” she said. “Yesterday, Rishi Sunak said, “We must learn to live without fear”, as he cast thousands of furloughed workers on to the mercies of universal credit.”

She said the speed of rule relaxing had led to dizzying and contradictory advice.

“ It’s only a matter of weeks since Johnson was bullying people back to work in their offices,” she said. “Everyone knew there would be a second wave: just like the first time, we’ve stood and watched as the virus has gained momentum across Europe.”

She described Johnson’s new rules as ‘feeble’ and said research indicated the public was well ahead of him in their attitude to wearing masks and meeting others.

“Members of Sage are increasingly voicing their concerns to the media: Prof Cath Noakes, unlike most, went public, proclaiming that the new measures “won’t cut it” in reducing the spread of the virus,” she said.

“It doesn’t take an Einstein to observe the folly of Johnson doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result,” she said. “Delaying inevitable tougher rules will likely do what it did before. Prolonging the pandemic worsens the economy as well as the roll-call of death and serious long-term Covid illness. But nothing in Johnson’s reckless life suggests any precautionary DNA in his selfish genes.”

The Daily Express

Frederick Forsyth asked why men and women at the very peak after years of struggle to get there, seem to take leave of their senses.

“The Brits are a tolerant people and we fully accept that no man or woman, entering Downing Street, can have all the answers, mastery of all the subjects,” he said. “Since the first virus flew effortlessly across the Channel, as even my Jack Russell knew it would do, Boris Johnson has chosen the worst possible advisers and relentlessly followed their catastrophic advice.”

He said the true Covid death toll would probably be about half of what it is estimated to be.

“This in a nation of 67 million. As a percentage it is vanishingly small,” he said. “Yet our entire economy is in fragments. Our democracy is vanishing as our age-old rights as free citizens are trampled by so-called “marshals” recruited from where exactly?”

He said his wife was accosted by two people as she walked down a street in Marylebone, demanding to know who she was and where she was going. She ignored them and went to two police officers who ‘sympathised but shrugged.’

“Despite the gullibility and agreement to panic of too many of our citizens I suspect that a people’s revolt is coming and needs but a trigger incident to set it off,” he said. “I hope not but the smashing of our fought for and so often defended democracy cannot go on because a bunch of useless bumblers has taken over.”

The Daily Mail

Henry Deedes said Boy Wonder was back. “Once again, Rishi Sunak strode back into the Commons to wave around that increasingly battered chequebook of his,” he said. “Rishi Rides to the Rescue has been a common narrative of this crisis. While most ministers’ stock has crashed these past six months, the Chancellor’s is on a bull run.”

He said the latest rescue package wasn’t so deluxe, adding ‘it was time to get real, people.’

“What we heard was a speech dripping with hard, uncomfortable truths,” he said. “A cattle prod up the kilt to the cloud-cuckoo merchants who think the country can carry on the way we have these past six months.

“When Rishi said things such as ‘we can no longer put lives on hold’ or that ‘we must learn to live with it and live without fear’, this sounded as much a warning to his own leader as it was to the country.”

His delivery was bang on, he said.

“It took some of Dame Cheryl Gillan’s matronly prudence to ask the question which had been preying on many people’s minds: How on earth are we going to pay for all this?,” he added. “For Rishi Sunak, that is another daunting day’s work.”