Boris Johnson calls for patience from Brits as country plots course back to normality

17 May 2020, 08:07

Boris Johnson speaks during PMQs on Wednesday
Boris Johnson speaks during PMQs on Wednesday. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

By Megan White

Boris Johnson has called for more patience from the nation as it plots a course back to normality, saying we must “move slowly at the right time.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister said he is backing the British public's fortitude and common sense to help the country recover from coronavirus.

But he also acknowledged frustrations over Government plans for emerging from the coronavirus lockdown.

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Restrictions in England have been eased - and the Government message softened from "stay at home" to "stay alert" - but Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have not followed suit.

With debate over reopening of schools and return to work raging, an Opinium survey released this weekend has shown public dissatisfaction with the Government's response to Covid-19 has overtaken approval for the first time.

Boris Johnson's coronavirus lockdown speech

Mr Johnson said he could "understand people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules" but urged Britons to remain patient so that the country "does not risk reversing the gains we have so far won in the fight against the virus".

"We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before - moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work," he wrote.

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"I recognise what we are now asking is more complex than simply staying at home, but this is a complex problem and we need to trust in the good sense of the British people.

"If we all stick at it, then we'll be able, gradually, to get rid of the complexities and the restrictions... but we must move slowly, and at the right time."

Mayor of Greater Manchester on coronavirus support for the north

But the PM added: “Despite these efforts, we have to acknowledge we may need to live with this virus for some time to come.

“We need to find new ways to control the virus. We will do that through testing and tracing - testing individuals who have symptoms to see if they have the virus and tracing contacts who may have been infected.”

Only 39 per cent of Britons approve of the Government's response - down from 48 per cent a week ago - according to an Opinium survey of 2,005 adults on Wednesday and Thursday.

Those saying they disapproved rose from 36 per cent to 42 per cent.

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Adam Drummond, the head of political polling at Opinium, said it was the first time disapproval of the Government's handling of the crisis was higher than approval.

Mr Johnson has been warned he may cause a fracturing of national unity if he fails to listen to regional concerns about the easing of lockdown restrictions.