Boris Johnson is today expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus.
Like Al Pacino, as Michael Corleone in Godfather III, just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.
The new rules could include forcing pubs to close either early or altogether, rescinding efforts to persuade people to return to their offices, and £10,000 fines for those who fail to self-isolate.
On Monday, the ground was prepared by the Prime Minister’s no-singing, no-dancing warm-up act, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.
Sitting 6ft apart behind a newsreader-style desk, The Two Ronnies of Doom delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll, backed up by speculative graphs based on ‘the science’ — what most of us would call ‘guesswork’.
Boris Johnson (pictured on Monday) is expected to announce further restrictions on our freedom aimed at preventing an upsurge in coronavirus on Tuesday
They could have looked at another graph, from Monday’s Daily Mail, which showed that cancer kills around 450 people a day, compared to just 21 from — or should that be with? — coronavirus.
Five people die daily in traffic accidents. In fact, for those under 50, you’re more likely to be hit by a bus than contract a fatal dose of Covid.
But using the Government’s better-safe-than-sorry approach to the corona pandemic, that would be enough to justify closing every road in Britain.
Hang on. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what they are doing.
During Monday’s dismal YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! diatribe, Vallance and Whitty even managed to invert the language, talking about Britain ‘turning the corner’ — and not in a good way. When normal folk speak of turning the corner, it usually means things are getting better.
As far as the Two Ronnies are concerned, things can only ever get worse. Unless we do as we’re told, it’ll be goodnight from me, goodnight from him, and Goodnight Vienna for the rest of us.
This wasn’t a prediction, they insisted, simply a way of looking at things, even admitting at one stage that their worst-case scenario was founded upon a ‘big if’.
Why is Boris being guided by these two merchants of misery and not, say, Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, who accuse ministers of crashing the economy on the basis of poor statistics and ill-informed advice?
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, they said: ‘The PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic.’
That’s exactly the kind of imaginative turn of phrase Boris would have conjured up in his former, free-spirited incarnation as a libertarian newspaper columnist.
Yet since contracting Covid, he has transmogrified from risk-taking iconoclast into ultra risk-averse statesman.
What he fails to understand is that when we voted for him, we thought we were electing happy-go-lucky Boris 1.0.
Before deciding which way to jump in the EU referendum, Boris is said to have composed two columns — one pro-Leave, one pro-Remain.
Let’s hope that before he gets on to his hind legs today, he prepared two speeches. And that at the last minute he rips up the first version, declaring another series of lockdowns lasting six months, and rediscovers his inner libertarian.
Professors of Medicine Carl Heneghan (above) and Tom Jefferson, from Oxford University, said that ‘the PM might as well be using the planets to guide us through this pandemic’
It could go something like this…
‘Friends, Zoomans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to appease Covid but to bury it. For too long our great nation has cowered before this vile interloper.
I promised to run the most open and transparent administration in history. That is why, with this brutally honest and unprecedented progress report, I am determined to level with you.
For the past six months, we have sacrificed our economy — and indeed our sanity — on the wonky altar of this pandemic. Even old Bojo went a bit doolally after my own brush with the Grim Reaper.
I would like to believe that what we got wrong, we got wrong for all the right reasons. At the outset, we knew as little about this pestilence as the Chinese know about the Duckworth-Lewis method for deciding cricket matches.
It was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. And in the words of one of my distinguished predecessors as Prime Minister, we were ‘frit’.
We relied too heavily on the boffins, who were none the wiser than anyone else. While early precautions were only prudent, we kept the country in lockdown unnecessarily, because we didn’t have a clue about what to do next.
I confess that most of the time we have been making it up as we’ve gone along, hoping like Micawber that something might turn up.
If we continue to be guided by ‘the science’, the consequences will be catastrophic. The so-called experts want us to lockdown again because they won’t admit their mistakes.
‘Their predictions have turned out to be an inverted pyramid of piffle. They are like some sherry-crazed old dowager who has lost the family silver at roulette and who now decides to double down by betting the house as well.
It is time for me to Take Back Control. As another of my famous predecessors once said: scientists should be on tap, not on top.
Our overreaction to this fiendish bug has already done to the economy what Vesuvius did to ancient Pompeii.
The Covid scare has inflicted more damage on London than the Luftwaffe.
But we beat the Hun and we can beat corona, not by huddling in our air raid shelters but by recapturing our Blitz Spirit.
As of Tuesday, all restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly are revoked, along with those ridiculous road closures, bike lanes and widened pavements.
Face masks may be worn by Nervous Nellies, but no one will be fined for not wearing one. Social distance if you wish, but we trust you to use your common sense.
British people should be able to make their own choices with all the freedom and exhilaration of our woad-painted ancestors.
On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty delivered an alarmist prognosis of a rising death toll (both above)
We will stop lecturing you on the need to lose weight. That is a personal choice. Yours truly has managed to shed a bit of adipose timber, but my policy on cake has always been pro-having it and pro-eating it.
There is absolutely no one, apart from yourself, who can prevent you, in the middle of the night, from sneaking down to tidy up the edges of that hunk of cheese at the back of the fridge.
It’s your funeral, and as of Tuesday the number of mourners will no longer be limited to 30. The Rule of Six has been ripped up.
The Seven Dwarfs are restored to their full complement. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work we go. And any civil servant who refuses to report back to the office on Monday will be dismissed summarily.
This is the not the end of the beginning, or even the beginning of the end, this is the end of hunkering down and hoping for the best.
We shall fight Covid in the streets, and in the pubs, and in the theatres.
We will fight on the beaches, too, once we’ve cleared away all the dinghies arriving from Calais.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Most people stand about as much chance of dying from Covid as finding Elvis on Mars, being decapitated by a Frisbee or reincarnated as an olive.
Naysayers and doom-mongers may warn this new libertarian approach is reckless and will end in disaster.
But, my friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.
So let freedom ring out once again. No more timorous Septic Isle. The standing army of Covid marshals has been demobbed. The boffins have been put back in their box.
The Two Ronnies of Doom have been cancelled. So it’s good night from me, and it’s goodnight to them.