Wednesday 8 April 2020

Boris May Be Very Sick, but That Is No Reason for Us to Panic

Boris Johnson being forced into hospital with the Chinese Pox the day after the Queen made that magnificent speech has really put a damper on things. The media are in full panic mode, but this is not the first time that a Prime Minister has been laid low, quite the opposite, in fact.

In 1890, Lord Salisbury the then Prime Minister and William Gladstone, the Leader of the Opposition, were both stricken with what was variously described as either the Asiatic Flu or the Russian Flu. However, life for the rest of the people went on.

Fast forward to August 1918 and David Lloyd-George was knocked on his back by the Spanish Flu. So ill did he become on a trip to Manchester that a sickroom had to be put together in the town hall so he could recover, something which took almost two weeks. Given that the Great War was still raging, this may have created rather more problems for the government of the day that Boris' peacetime battle with the Coronavirus, but the country still came through it.

Finally, in 1953, Winston Churchill suffered a stroke, and to make matters worse, his obvious successor, Anthony Eden was in a hospital abroad. The government managed to cover up Churchill's three-month absence, but the machinery of government carried on regardless.

The point that needs to be remembered is that the United Kingdom is a state governed by institutions and not by individual men. I hope that Boris makes a full and speedy recovery, but if the worse comes to the worse, then the Queen will have to send for someone else who can command a majority in the House of Commons.

It is the way that things are done in mature, developed countries, so let's all relax and try and get through this crisis together without turning it into a drama.

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