PIERS MORGAN: Deluded vaccine refuseniks deserve to be shamed but the blame for this Indian variant fiasco lies with Downing Street Ditherer-in-Chief Boris Johnson whose deadly incompetence has yet again imperilled our liberty
It takes a special kind of selfish, deluded fool to refuse to take the covid vaccine but persist in ranting about the evils of lockdowns.
Yesterday, rock legend Eric Clapton did his best to dissuade people from having the jab after claiming the side effects he suffered made him fear he would never perform again.
This is the same Eric Clapton who a few months ago collaborated on an anti-lockdown song ‘Stand and Deliver’ because he said he was desperate for live music shows to return.
The 76-year-old guitarist doesn’t seem to realise that if everyone heeded his advice to avoid vaccination, then live music would never return and a lot of people his age would get the virus and die.
But fortunately, Britain seems to have fewer vaccine sceptics than anywhere else in the world which is why we’re leading the global chart in jab-acceptance.
Boris Johnson (pictured in the House of Commons today) has failed to properly protect us
And frankly, when it comes to covid idiocy, and the danger it represents, the likes of Mr Clapton pale into insignificance when compared to the chronically incompetent imbeciles inside No10 Downing Street led by Ditherer-in-Chief, Boris Johnson.
It was Albert Einstein who reportedly said that ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’
So, by that yardstick, the Prime Minister is now officially insane.
How else to explain why, once again, we’re facing the threat of further lockdowns because he has proved shamefully incapable of doing basic things to protect us from this bloody virus?
When the pandemic first erupted last year, Johnson’s abject refusal to take the virus seriously led to Britain locking down several weeks after virtually everywhere else but he still kept our island border open so 20 million visitors could come in, many from corona-ravaged countries.
The combined effect of these two catastrophic decisions was the worst death toll in Europe.
And Johnson learned absolutely nothing from his failure.
When the second wave came last autumn, as every credible scientist had warned it would, he again delayed ordering lockdown despite a surge in covid infections and subsequent deaths.
Passengers walk through the Terminal 2 arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport today
Even when the far more transmissible Kent variant was announced in December, Johnson dithered again and inexplicably allowed millions of untested families to meet up for Christmas and infect each other.
This disgraceful dereliction of duty led to a horrendous new UK covid death toll at the start of this year, even larger than the first wave.
Then, finally, it seemed the penny dropped, and Johnson announced what he said would be a final ‘irreversible’ lockdown before the commencement of a 4-part roadmap to freedom.
Of course, the fact such an inveterate liar said it would be the final lockdown should have rung immediate alarm bells that it wouldn’t be.
But there seemed to be a sound logic to the steady, cautious plans and pace of the roadmap and I was hopeful it would be successful.
Now, those plans look in tatters as the new Indian variant starts to spread inexorably across the country and government ministers are making ominous noises that the much-vaunted June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ will be nothing of the sort and new restrictions including regional lockdowns may be necessary.
All of which prompts the obvious question: why is this Indian variant here, bringing a new threat to our liberty?
And why, given how little we still seem to know about its virulence, did we not slam the breaks on the substantial new reopening phase of the country on Monday until the picture was clearer?
The answer is grimly predictable: because Boris Johnson has failed to properly protect us. Again.
People queue outside a vaccination centre at the Science Museum in Kensington, London
It was obvious to anyone with half a brain that India was in big trouble with its second wave of the virus at the start of April, as covid cases surged.
But incredibly, despite the UK government’s own data showing India had a higher rate of infection at the time than Pakistan and Bangladesh, it wasn’t Red-Listed until April 23 – two weeks after its neighbours.
And when it was finally put on the list, people in India were given four days to get back to the UK.
We’ll never know how many brought the variant in with them, because our testing and quarantining system remains a shambles.
What we do know from countries with better systems is that the chances are a lot of them did.
A study of one flight from Delhi to Hong Kong around the same time showed that all 188 passengers produced evidence they had recently tested negative for the virus, but a third of them – 52 people – then tested positive during Hong Kong’s very intense process of airport testing and mandatory hotel quarantine.
By contrast, Britain’s border control is an embarrassing disaster.
For weeks now, passengers arriving from Red-List countries have been seen queueing for many hours at Heathrow right next to passengers from Green and Amber-list countries in what’s resembled a constant ongoing covid super-spreader event that makes a mockery of all advice to avoid such indoor, airless mass gatherings.
It sounds ridiculous that any government would allow this potentially lethal mixing of people from safe and unsafe places as they enter the UK, but it’s happening every single day.
And flights from India continue to pour in, even as deaths from the new variant there continue to scale record daily highs.
LBC Radio’s Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish revealed last night that 110 direct flights from India have landed in UK since it was placed on the Red List, containing 8,500 passengers of whom it is believed 7% tested positive for coronavirus, half with the new variant. That’s at least 300 people, and those are just the ones we picked up.
How many of them infected passengers from Amber and Green-list countries at the airport as they all stood around inhaling the same air space?
And why the hell are we still allowing direct flights in from India at all when we’ve banned direct flights from 11 other countries on the Red List including South Africa and Brazil?
None of this makes any sense, just as none of our border policy has ever made any sense in this pandemic.
We’re an island.
We could have shut down like other islands including Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia, and operated a similarly draconian border policy that virtually guarantees no new outbreak of coronavirus, of any variant, can spread through the population.
But instead, Boris Johnson has steadfastly refused to do it, leaving us, to use his one of his favourite post-Brexit phrases, ‘open for business’ to the virus and its nasty variants.
His claim, repeated in the House of Commons today, that we have ‘one of the strongest border policies in the world’ is disingenuous nonsense.
And in true Johnson style, when cornered about his ineptitude, he and his ministers have tried to pass the blame for the variant’s spread onto the public, specifically the anti-Vaxxers, and started brazenly lying about the delay in putting India on the Red List.
I believe, as many do, that the real reason why he delayed is because Johnson was due to visit India at the end of last month and didn’t want to annoy Prime Minister Modi in any way that might adversely impact on any new trade negotiations.
Not for the first time in this crisis, he put economic interests ahead of public health interests despite a general global acceptance now that you only get economic recovery if you quickly get on top of the virus.
The deadly consequence of Johnson’s latest dithering is that Britain’s now heading for another of his infamous U-turns, comprising a delay to our desperately-craved ‘freedom’ on June 21, possible new lockdowns to suppress the rapidly-spreading variant, and the strong likelihood of other countries banning tourists from the UK to prevent Brits bringing the Indian variant with us.
(And don’t even get me started on ministers encouraging people to travel to Amber-list countries but now saying we shouldn’t because it’s dangerous).
This is all happening despite a hugely successful vaccine roll-out that’s rightly been the envy of the world.
Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of imminent victory…
Even Johnson’s former right hand man Dominic Cummings, whose own selfish lockdown rule-breaking antics did so much damage to public compliance last year, has been utterly scathing about our border policy – yesterday tweeting that it’s been a ‘joke.’
I’m not laughing, and I bet you aren’t either.
For that joke’s on all of us.
And it’s not the likes of Eric Clapton we should be howling at today for their ignorant vaccine comments.
No, the blame for this latest mess should be laid squarely at the door of No10 Downing Street, and Boris Johnson who has yet again allowed us to be held ransom by a virus that likes nothing more than to punish spineless ditherers who refuse to move fast or tough enough to suppress it.
To borrow the words of Eric Clapton, there will be more tears in Heaven because of it.
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