The ITV political editor has lashed out at the Prime Minister and warned his “biggest mistake” was attempting to simultaneous suppress the virus and grow the economy. In a scathing assessment of the Government, Mr Peston also pointed to Mr Johnson’s shock decision to ignore the advice given by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to impose a two-week circuit-break lockdown on September 21.
Mr Peston added the Prime Minister made a “catastrophic misjudgement” by deciding against a short 14-day lockdown in favour of his three-tier alert system.
Writing in his ITV blog, he said: “The big point is this – and it is one that his leading scientific advisers are completely explicit about: if Johnson had done the circuit breaker in late September, the prevalence and rate of transmission of the virus would have been suppressed to such a low level that Test and Trace today would be able to identify and address hotspots with laser-like accuracy.
“By taking tougher action earlier, our way of life and economic activity could have been maintained in a more normal way for longer during this difficult winter.
“In other words, the Prime Minister’s biggest mistake was – arguably – to put his faith in the false dichotomy between fighting the virus and propping up the economy.
“This means more lives will be lost than if there had been an earlier circuit breaking lockdown AND the economic cost of bearing down on the virus will be greater than if there had been an earlier circuit breaking lockdown.”
The Prime Minister called an emergency cabinet meeting earlier today to discuss new stringent measures.
And now Mr Johnson is widely expected to announce a new lockdown across England during a press conference at 5pm.
Just two weeks ago, the Prime Minister said he wanted to avoid the “misery of a national lockdown” while being forced to defend his localised strategy.
It is understood a national lockdown could be introduced as early as November 4, with all non-essential shops closing.
The measure could last until at least December 1, with nurseries, schools and universities remaining open.
A return to some of the measures seen in March would mirror the actions taken in France and Germany earlier this week.
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Professor Calum Semple, a member of Sage stated the virus is “running riot” across every demographic.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “For the naysayers that don’t believe in a second wave, there is a second wave.
“And, unlike the first wave, where we had a national lockdown which protected huge swathes of society, this outbreak is now running riot across all age groups.”