Lessons on civic duty from Boris Johnson? No thank you | Marina Hyde

The prime minister is handling coronavirus so badly now, he makes even his most unpopular predecessors look public-spirited

Though it majors in killing, the coronavirus certainly enjoys a sideways glance at inequality. In April, we discovered that the British TV show Holby City owned only one fewer working ventilator than the African country Liberia. On Sunday, construction and manufacturing workers were told to get back to work by a man who skived off five consecutive Cobra meetings during a wildly mushrooming global epidemic. Five! Boris Johnson couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and grip the government’s crucial early response to a deadly virus – are we supposed to believe he’d be rushing back to finish a loft extension out of civic duty? He’s not even prime minister out of civic duty.

Still, that’s showbiz. You miss one universal credit meeting and your benefits are stopped; you miss five Cobra meetings and you get to address the nation on its working responsibilities from a drawing room so vast you’d need a hansom cab to traverse it. (When are we de-furloughing the hansom cabbies? I don’t care if they are dead and from the 19th century: that’s hardly a bar to this government assessing them as fit for work.)

It is mid-May. You now cannot optimise for both safety and the economy

Related: UK coronavirus live: Sunak extends furlough job retention scheme until end of October

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