Letters from Number 10. The Covid Files 2.

20th April 2020

Dear Dom,

“QED” as my old housemaster used to say when confiscating our packets of fags and condoms before sneaking off to the ‘Nanny and Spanker’ in Windsor to put them to good use himself. He of course meant ‘Quod Erat Demonstrandum’ but I note some wags are calling our response to the current little difficulty ‘Quick and Early Death’ as a nod to our earlier ‘herd immunity’ approach. 

We have to respond to the rising tide of ordure lapping at our gunwales.

What a bunch of ungrateful turds, they are not fit to lick the spittle from my boots. It appears that a few journalists, and other awkward ‘expert’ bastards, are asking questions about our competence to lead this country off the beaches. So I’d like to set a few things straight.

Back in 2013, Cambridge University wrote a report: “There are many potential causes of macro-catastrophe, ranging from epidemics…managing the risks of disruption from macro-catastrophes is a major concern of government national security, international businesses, financial services and insurers, and investment managers across the world”. So where was I in 2013? Well, I was not the PM thats for sure! Epidemics? Epidemics of snowflakery perhaps.

In 2015, the World Economic Forum published a report on, fuck me solidly with hazel twig broom, ‘managing risks of future epidemics‘. Did you know they said “Globalization has made the world more vulnerable to societal and economic impacts from infectious-disease outbreaks. One…estimate puts the cost of pandemic influenza alone at $570 billion per year, which places it in the same order of magnitude as climate change.” In 2015 I was busy…sorry can’t remember why.

Ah yes, we had Brexit to deal with in the following year. Who was Health Secretary in 2015, I ask you! It certainly was not me.

When the WHO declared a pandemic on March 11th, I did not panic.

No. Panic is not the order of the day. Did Churchill panic at Dunkirk? We must take things on the chin, keep calm and carry on!

The racegoers at Cheltenham are top chaps and I did not see why they should be denied a day of pleasure, particularly as I had just enjoyed a decent day at Twickers myself. The Jockey Club rightly cited my attendance at the rugger as their reason to go ahead.

I also did not ignore the advice and research from various bodies over the past 10 years. I just did not read them. I did not ignore the Exercise Cygnus report findings of 2016 about our preparedness for a flu like pandemic.  When Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer said millions would have died, and that the NHS was woefully unprepared, I did not ignore that. I just think that we have the Bulldog Spirit that would rise to any challenge. I have been proved right, look at the PPE now flooding the health service!

When Italy and Spain went into lockdown I did not ignore that. We all know the latin temperament is ‘excitable’ while we are far more stoic in the face of death. Our pensioners did not die on the beaches only to be scared of a virus.

When Dr Richard Horton of The Lancet said our response was a ‘national scandal’ I did not ignore that.  When Professor Anthony Costello of UCL stated our strategy dangerously leaves too many questions unanswered such as:

  1. Why did we abandoned population testing and contact tracing to identify and seclude clusters of infections?
  2. Why did we they recommend self-isolation only for people with symptoms.
  3. What are our plans for national, district, municipal, village and community mobilisation?
  4. Why did we emphasise herd immunity then?

I did not ignore that. I just don’t trust self appointed experts in virology, public health and epidemiology. Too focused on health and not enough on cash.  

In September 2017, the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies stated: “there is a high probability of a flu pandemic occurring” with “up to 50% of the UK population experiencing symptoms, potentially leading to between 20,000 and 750,000 fatalities and high levels of absence from work.” Look. People die. Fact. 

I did not ignore that, I was not told.

In July of 2018, the UK biological security strategy was published, addressing the threat of pandemics. It “was not properly implemented, according to a former government chief scientific advisor… Prof Sir Ian Boyd who said a lack of resources was to blame.”

I did not ignore that because I never read it!

On the 2nd of January this year when China launched an investigation into a new form of viral pneumonia, and the BBC reported it, I was not about to jump up and down in frenzy just because the ‘yellow peril’ caught a cold.

I did not ignore that. Wuhan is a long way away from Woking.

Then on 14th January when the human to human SARS like virus looked like a serious outbreak, when John Edmunds (professor of disease modelling and our advisor,) said it was ‘serious, very serious’, then on 20th January Wuhan went into lockdown. When on 24th January The Lancet published an article argued that third of patients require admission to ICU, and 29% needed ventilation, I did not ignore that.  

Between 13 February and 30 March, yes we did miss 8 conference calls and meetings between EU health ministers and heads of State, about the virus. But you know what? Brexit thats what.  

On 26th February a memo from our National Security Communications Team warned in a worse case scenario half a million could die from the virus. Yeah right. ’worse case scenario’ . Bloody negative doom sayers. 

I honestly can’t remember if you said “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”

I said “coronavirus would not stop me greeting people with a handshake, I also said that I had shaken the hands of everyone at a hospital where infected patients were being treated”

Now there is a couple of bloody trouble makers stirring shit on a turd of a website called ‘byline times’ detailing the loss opportunities and oversights. 

I want you to find the snitch who said ““What you learn about Boris was he didn’t chair any meetings. He liked his country breaks. He didn’t work weekends. It was like working for an old-fashioned chief executive in a local authority 20 years ago. There was a real sense that he didn’t do urgent crisis planning. It was exactly like people feared he would be.” When you find out who it is, please indulge your passion for modern day evisceration. String the twat up by their testicles from a lampost in Downing Street as a lesson to the others (I assume it is a chap?).

I did not attend any Cobra meetings between the 24th of January and 2nd March. For the two weeks of that period, when thousands of people had already died of coronavirus globally and Storm Dennis raged across England, Carrie and I were holidaying in a large country house in Kent. Chevening – a 115 room Grade II-listed mansion. Delightful. You should try it during the next crisis. Damn fine wine celler.

As for the Sunday Times reports, we have knocked off a rebuttal.

(By the way, do you have a copy of Osterholms book?)

They say I did not attend 5 COBRA meetings. Well, if Gordon Brown was concerned enough about the life of a pig to attend COBRA during the Foot and Mouth crisis. that was his call. I rely instead on the stellar intelligence, drive and insights of my team – Hancock, Gove and Raab.

I refer again to the speech I made in Greenwich on 3rd February, and I stand by it. I do not like Wuhan style lockdowns then and I do not now, that why I said:

“…we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other.”

Free trade and ‘comparative advantage’. This teaches that if countries learn to specialise and exchange then overall wealth and productivity will increase. We don’t need to produce food if other countries do it more cheaply! Cobden once said that free trade is ‘God’s diplomacy’. Well, we must stand up for free markets, individualism, effort and the right to exchange despite a pandemic. We are British for God’s sake!! We don’t let a sniffle get in the way of cash! Did Henry at Agincourt say to the French “Sorry can’t fight today, got a bit iof a rash” or did Nelson say at Trafalgar “back off chaps, there is something in my eye” did Welington at Waterloo say to Napoleon “I’d like to dear chap, but I’m feeling a bit peeky”. No! Churchill fought them on the beaches despite the depressions and alcohol abuse, Thats who we are!!! We are not moaning minnies afrid of half a liiion deaths, particularly of those who have outlived thier economic worth! The Empire was not built on sentiment. Heamorrhoids? Well burst the little fuckers with a hot needle and soldier on! PMT is for whimps. Death happens, it is part and parcel of life. Get over it.

That is what is important, not some temporary medical emergency that will blow over in a few months. Don’t get me wrong but don’t old people die anyway?

I did not get elected to usher in public health priorities! I got elected to get Brexit done and unleash the potential!!!

So, Bollocks to them. 

I can’t be arsed. 

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

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