The former chancellor’s false suggestion that Britain’s Covid lockdown went on too long will feed the paranoid politics of the Conservative right
Rishi Sunak has told the Spectator that Britain’s coronavirus lockdowns, the most important decisions taken by the Boris Johnson government, of which Mr Sunak was such a key member, went too far. The interview shows that you can take the man out of the Treasury, but not take the Treasury out of the man. But it will be music to the ears of many on the right of the Conservative party, not least the Spectator itself, where lockdown scepticism long ago hardened into a dogma of adherence to the true libertarian faith. Nevertheless, Mr Sunak’s claim is not true.
The former chancellor and Tory leadership candidate makes three substantive points, all of them questionable. The first is that the lockdowns went on too long. If anything, the very opposite is true. If the first lockdown, in particular, had come sooner and lasted longer, some of the later damage (including some that was inflicted by Mr Sunak’s own “Eat out to help out” scheme) might have been less severe.
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