Eddie Mair: Why isn't Boris Johnson taking the coronavirus press briefings?

18 May 2020, 18:50

By Seán Hickey

After today's coronavirus briefing, Eddie Mair was inundated with messages from the public wondering where the Prime Minister is.

Eddie was joined by LBC's Westminster correspondent Ben Kentish to dissect the findings from the government's coronavirus press briefing. The question on everybody's lips was, how come Boris Johnson isn't hosting these conferences.

Ben agreed with the public's wondering and insisted that "the question has been asked, but not really answered." Eddie wondered "could it be that they want to keep Boris Johnson for big days with big news where they want to get headlines" to which Ben saw some logic to the point.

He reminded Eddie that Boris Johnson's lockdown speech "was watched by 30 million people" and it is known that he can draw a crowd for the government, and so agreed that the reasoning may be to keep him for big news.

Ben added that despite this the public are not happy that their Prime Minister is not being held to account. "We want to question the person that's making these big decisions, not his more junior ministers who are not."

Moving onto the meat of today's briefing, where Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam hinted that the coronavirus battle "could last years."

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Ben expanded on this point, assuring Eddie that it wasn't as disastrous a point as it seems. He went on to say that Professor Van-Tam was just stating that the UK will have to learn to live alongside the virus, with steps in place to keep transmission and contraction of the virus low.

He added that vaccine trials have proved promising in the last few days. Ben told Eddie that there is "positive noise coming from certain trials, particularly the University of Oxford one" on a potential vaccine coming closer to being mass manufactured.

LBC's Westminster correspondent went further to point out that the plans to roll out track and trace will be delayed further because the NHS app hasn't been launched yet. This chimes back to Professor Van-Tam's point that we could be "in this for the long haul" Ben pointed out.

Ben went on to reveal to Eddie that "21,000 contact tracers have been hired" and although this is a good start, the fact that the app hasn't come on stream for the rest of the UK the contact tracers won't be as effective as they may be with the app.