James O'Brien's powerful reaction to Boris Johnson's "despicable" coronavirus briefing

17 July 2020, 12:32 | Updated: 17 July 2020, 12:57

By Fiona Jones

This was James O'Brien's powerful reaction to Boris Johnson's "despicable and ludicrous" coronavirus briefing.

Speaking from Number 10, Boris Johnson said he hoped for a return to "normality" in time for Christmas as he unveiled changes to the government's stance on working from home.

He said that from August 1, people in England should return to work "if it is safe" and "provided employers have done the work they should have done to make their work places Covid-secure".

The Prime Minister said it was not for the Government to tell employers if staff should return to their workplaces.

Reflecting on the briefing, James found he was "less clear now than before [PM] started speaking" about England's coronavirus response.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday that there is "no reason" to change the work from home policy and despite expecting the Prime Minister to say something contradictory, James said "he's somehow made it worse."

"Who decides whether you go back to work now? Who decides whether you're safe? Your boss, if it's safe," James said, remarking Boris Johnson was "vanishingly close to saying it is safe if it is safe."

James O&squot;Brien said that Boris Johnson congratulating our British common sense "lays the groundwork for it all being our fault."
James O'Brien said that Boris Johnson congratulating our British common sense "lays the groundwork for it all being our fault.". Picture: LBC/PA

"These words need actual definition, you can't just say it is safe if it is safe."

James said he almost "lost the will to live" when a journalist asked the Prime Minister what the message is for people who have been told they're not to return to work until January and received a confused response.

James took particular exception to the Prime Minister hailing the British coronavirus response "a great success", as the UK's coronavirus death toll soars above 45,000. He asked if this was a great success, what would a disaster look like?

He branded the PM's response to coronavirus as "one of the most catastrophic responses on the entire planet" and questioned how he could stand in front of a country with 45,000 deaths and tell everyone it has been a great success.

"These are the moments when you feel it slipping through your fingers, that semblance of reality, objectivity, truth that we've clearly taken advantage of for years," he reflected solemnly, citing Matt Hancock's false claim the UK locked down on 16 March.

James said that Boris Johnson congratulating our British common sense "lays the groundwork for it all being our fault."

"When reality begins to properly bite and the ludicrous despicable conduct of a proper Prime Minister claiming a triumph in the face of 45,000 deaths, when the gloss falls off he's already laid the groundwork for it to be our fault."

By crediting the great British common sense when "his own hands steeped in the blood of British men and women, he's going to try and blame it on you," said James.

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