Politics

Britain's Greatest Battle

In an unprecedented address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked down the UK as we prepare to battle an unseen enemy.


MARCH 24th, 2020

The Prime Minister addressed the Nation in an unprecedented statement. - © PA

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s the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stared down the lens of the camera and out into the homes of the Nation, there was a sense that history was being made before our very eyes. With the Coronavirus sweeping through the country, his announcement of a nationwide lockdown came as no surprise – yet it still felt surreal. It was an address that will most likely come to define Johnson’s premiership and was easily his most important. With a tone of seriousness that critics had deemed absent in the Prime Minister’s attitude to the pandemic in recent days, there was no dismissing the significance of his address.

The country would enter an unprecedented lockdown to stem the spread of Coronavirus, and after certain sectors of the public failed to heed the government’s advice to self-isolate and practice social distancing, Britain is now, well and truly in unchartered waters. There is no underestimating the task facing the nation, but for the vast majority of the country one simple ask is being demanded of us all – stay at home.

Boris Johnson's full address to the public. - © BBC


Boris Johnson clearly and concisely underlined this incentive and the processes implemented to enforce it. All shops selling non-essential goods would close. Playgrounds, gyms, libraries and places of worship would too close down. Gatherings of more than two people would cease, and the founding liberties we have come to unconsciously live our lives by would effectively pause for the next three weeks.

There is no determining what will happen in the coming months, though sadly the only certainty is the increase in numbers of those who will fight this disease and those whose lives will be claimed by it. And as we step closer to the peak of the infectious spread, it will take all of us to enact on those sanctions being laid before us. If not for those who are most vulnerable to the virus, but our incredible NHS staff, who day-in-day-out will come face to face with the brutal reality of this global pandemic.

As a country, we are renowned for our ‘wartime spirit’. Each year we proudly celebrate the generation dubbed “the greatest one of all”, honouring the sacrifice to keep the country safe. In the face of potential invasion, those who fought on the frontline, and those who were left behind to help with the national effort to overcome is a sentiment which is needed now more than ever.

Although the British public aren’t being asked to enlist to fight an enemy emblazoned with the swastika, make no mistake that this is a fight on which our response to the government’s orders is essential – and they’re not hard.

It is in the simplicity of simply staying indoors, and the abject failure of some to follow those instructions which has proved the most frustrating. Over the weekend photos emerged on social media showing hoards of the Brits heading for the countryside and coast. People visited markets and shops, seemingly without a care in a world. Their arrogance was visibly underlined with the words “what pandemic?”

Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Election Launch - © Getty Images


It is this conscious ignorance that has placed Britain on such a perilous course, and whilst we finally begin our national lockdown, there is concern on just how much damage was done over those two-days.

Throughout our history the United Kingdom has faced down enemies of all shapes and sizes, those which can be seen and those which can’t. Unity, teamwork, compassion and empathy are the values which are embedded in our societal DNA, and if we utilise them effectively then more of us will pull through these uncertain times.

The task ahead will take all of us to work together, follow the instructions and place our trust in the experts and scientists who will determine the trajectory of our fight. There will be bumps along the way; people will feel scared, unnerved and anxious wondering when normality will be reinstated.

Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Election Launch - © Getty Images


But set against the darkness there is some light and hope. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock revealed that the government have purchased over 3 million antibody tests. These tests will not only determine those who have the Coronavirus, but those who have had it. Scientists have described the test as a ‘gamechanger’ that could determine any future choices made on our current lockdown and response to the crisis. And with almost every country on the planet aiming to create a vaccine, the news isn’t all doom.

Irrespective of what happens, the British public have a unique and unflinching ability to respond to a crisis with a commonality of togetherness. Through humour, honesty, holding power to account and compassion for our neighbours and those who are most vulnerable, we will come through these ambiguous times – as one nation, as one United Kingdom.

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