Andy Richardson: Why it's a class act to wish PM well
One of the classiest responses to Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 infection came from his former Labour opponent Andy Burnham.
Burnham served under Blair and Brown before leaving Westminster to take up a mayoral role in Manchester. He couldn’t be more opposed to a Conservative prime minister.
But on March 27, when Boris revealed he was self-isolating, Burnham had no thoughts of political point scoring. Instead, he offered the classiest of greetings: “Get well soon & thanks for what you have been doing to help the country fight this.”
Others have followed suit. From Sadiq Khan to John McDonnell, from Jeremy Corbyn to Keir Starmer, there has been an outpouring of warmth for a man whose partisan politics and divisive decisions caused a national meltdown during the three-year Brexit row.
But now is not the time for division or political point scoring. It’s a time to recognise one another’s humanity and put people ahead of politics. Boris has ruffled feathers throughout his life. A true Marmite politician, he is as unpopular among many as he is popular with some.
In recent days, he will have had time to reflect on some of his earlier pronouncements. The man who proudly spoke of shaking the hands of Covid-19 patients and downplayed the impact the disease would have will have realised that power and privilege provide no safeguard.
He may be the most senior political figure in the land, but he faces the same risk and jeopardy as the next man, woman and child. His illness is a cautionary tale to us all. If someone with the physical and mental strength to climb the greasiest of poles can succumb, so can we. If someone supported by a small army of advisors and medical staff requires intensive care, so can we.
The ill health of Prime Minister Boris Johnson shows we are all susceptible, all vulnerable. And it teaches us that we must, must, must stay home to protect the NHS, reduce the risk of infection and allow the Government to get on top.
Dominic Raab wasn’t the first to be rejected from the Conservative contest to become Prime Minister. That distinction went to, erm, Matt Hancock. Raab was just the next to fall. Now those men find themselves leading our fight against Covid-19.
Irrespective of personal politics, we must hope they succeed and we must hope the PM returns to full health.
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