COVID-19 UK Political Analysis by Tim Hames – 7th May 2020

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When in Rome. What the UK Government is likely to learn from the evidence of the virus in Italy.

A slightly restless nation (and even more frenetic media) awaits the latest update from the Prime Minister and Government about the status of the lockdown in the United Kingdom. It is likely to be largely disappointed. As set out in the FTI UK Political Analysis of April 3rd (Taking Back Control. An unofficial timetable in Whitehall which depends on mass anti-body testing), the steps to be set out shortly will mostly be small and symbolic rather than sizeable and substantive, with the more meaty decisions made in advance of the second May Bank Holiday. That should be a meaningful moment.

In the meantime, attention has turned to the fact that the UK appears to have overtaken Italy in the raw number of fatalities (although comparisons of this kind are challenging). This should not be any sort of surprise. As the FTI UK Political Analysis released on April 17th (Re-entry Riddle. Why lifting the lockdown in the UK will be harder than elsewhere in Europe) observed, “It will be a considerable achievement (or extraordinary fortune) if the UK is not at the top of the grim European table for the overall number of deaths recorded” but that “it will probably not have that status in terms of the proportionate death rate, other than micro-states, Belgium is destined for that tally.” (This will be the very last paragraph in this piece to refer to past predictive success I promise you absolutely).

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