2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app

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If Boris Johnson wanted to end the Dominic Cummings row, this news conference horribly backfired

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app In extraordinary scenes, the Prime Minister told reporters that he wouldn’t let Chris Whitty or Sir Patrick Vallance comment

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson Credit: PIPPA FOWLES/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appRemarkable. We can only imagine the meeting that took place beforehand between the Prime Minister and his advisers.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“Look, chaps. This row about Dom’s gone on far too long. We need a way to make everyone move on, and forget all about it.”

“Here’s an idea, PM. How about, in the middle of a televised news conference, you announce that you’re not going to let the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser answer any questions about it? That’s bound to calm everyone down.”

No, of course it sounds ridiculous. And yet that’s precisely what happened at the No10 news conference this evening. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked Prof Chris Whitty (the CMO) and Sir Patrick Vallance (the CSA) whether Dominic Cummings had set “the kind of example you want people to follow”. Straight away, Boris Johnson leapt in to say they couldn’t answer.

“I’m going to interpose myself and protect them,” declared the Prime Minister nobly, “from an unfair and unnecessary attempt to ask a political question…” 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appExtraordinary. Not least because the question wasn’t about politics. It was about public health – which is, after all, these two men’s area of particular expertise. If anyone knows whether it was all above board to drive the length of England with Covid symptoms, or to enjoy a 60-mile road trip at the height of the pandemic, surely those two do.

A disbelieving Robert Peston tried to ask them himself. Again Mr Johnson held firm. “Look, I’m just going to repeat the point I’ve made just now… Let’s crack on with our programme and getting our messages across…” 

Still Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick stood silent at their lecterns. The poor men looked as if they were appearing in a hostage video. “If you can’t give a verbal answer,” said Sam Coates of Sky News, “a nod or a shake of the head will suffice…” 

Finally the two men were permitted to speak. But they didn’t dare answer the questions about Mr Cummings. Prof Whitty insisted that he and Sir Patrick didn’t want to “get pulled into politics”. Sir Patrick said he didn’t “want to get involved in politics at all”.

“Good,” said Mr Johnson, with an air of wrapping the matter up.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appOf course, Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick are civil servants, and therefore politically neutral. The trouble is, that isn’t the point here. The questions were about the sustainability of lockdown, and public willingness to follow the rules advocated by these two men. Police officers have already found members of the public . 

And, no matter how neutral Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick may be, it was bizarre to see the Chief Medical Officer decline to say whether a 60-mile drive is an appropriate way to test one’s eyesight.

Something to remember, if the rest of us are ever pulled up by police for breaching lockdown. “Look, officer, I don’t want to get into a political debate…”