Boris: Hi guys, good to meet you all again by teleconference. Anything happen while I’ve been poorly?
Matt Hancock: Well, lockdown is pretty well established now.
Boris: So, what’s the next step?
Matt Hancock: Er, lockdown further? Or for longer?
Boris: Yes, yes, but what’s the plan going forward? I’ve had an email from someone called Kier claiming to be leader of the opposition and he wants to know what our exit strategy is.
Dominic Cummings: Got you. Follow the science.
Boris: Is that it?
Dominic Cummings: Er, yes, I guess. Er, Chris?
Chris Whitty: Absolutely. Follow the science.
Boris: But what is the science telling us to do?
Chris Whitty: Well, lockdown and wait until we think of something.
Boris: Isn’t anybody working on this?
Chris Whitty: Yes, sure. There are epidemiologists all over the place looking into this.
Boris: What are they saying?
Chris Whitty: Don’t know, haven’t seen this month’s Epidemiological Journal yet. Apparently, all the printers are on furlough, so I may never see another copy.
Boris: But you’re my chief epidemiologist. Don’t you know what’s going on?
Chris Whitty: Will do, as soon as my copy drops through the door. I’ll update you then boss.
Boris: Does anyone else have any ideas? Matt, what have you been doing while I was in intensive care?
Matt Hancock: Praying, mainly.
Boris: For me?
Matt Hancock: Well that as well. I’ve approved a requisition for forty squillion pieces of PPE to be procured. It’s on your desk waiting for your signature.
Boris: I can’t see it.
Matt Hancock: You still in Chequers?
Boris: Yes, to recuperate. Probably be here for a couple of weeks. Still can’t see it.
Matt Hancock: I left it in Downing Street, just after they sanitised your office. I guess it can wait.
Boris: But what do I tell this Kier guy? We can’t stay on lockdown indefinitely, can we?
Dominic Cummings: Tell him we’re following the science. It seems to work with most people. Either that or get Covid-19 done.
Boris: We must have a plan after lockdown.
Boris: So, what is it?
All: Oh, we thought you meant we had one, we’re waiting to hear it.
Boris: If we stop lockdown, what happens?
Chris Whitty: That’s easy. Everybody who is likely to die of Covid 19 dies within a month or so. Plus, lots of other people who would normally have access to a ventilator but can’t because they’re all being used die too.
Boris: And if we stay on lockdown?
Chris Whitty: That’s easy. Everybody who is likely to die of Covid 19 dies eventually.
Boris: But not the lots of other people?
Chris Whitty: Probably, given enough time. Plus, as we’re prioritising Covid 19 and cancelling all the cancer operations, they’ll go too.
Boris: We need a real strategy. Dom, you do that stuff don’t you?
Dominic Cummings: Focus group research suggests cancer patients are more likely to be Labour voters, whereas Covid 19 victims are more likely Tory voters, so our current strategy is best if we’re planning on staying on lockdown for the next five years.
Boris: Haven’t you got anything less long term?
Dominic Cummings: My suggestion is that we nominate another member of the cabinet to go downhill and be treated in hospital for a week or so to divert attention away from the government to buy us some time. Someone the public care about, say Priti, or Matt, or that other guy called Dom – forget his surname.
Dominic Raab: I’m in the teleconference, you know.
Dominic Cummings: Whatever, anyway, focus groups suggest none of them would make the inside pages, let alone dominate the news. The only Cabinet member that would work would be Rishi.
Boris: He’s the only one actually doing anything, isn’t he?
Matt Hancock: What about the Queen?
Boris: Absolutely not. I already asked her. She suggested Charles. She said inject it back into him if needs be. What about testing?
Matt Hancock: The millions of tests I bought are not very good.
Boris: In what way?
Matt Hancock: Some give false positives, others false negatives.
Boris: So, on average they give the right results, just with the wrong people?
Matt Hancock: Never thought of it that way. OK, I’ll post them out, they’re on my desk right now.
Boris: The desk you’re sat at?
Matt Hancock: Bugger. They’re on the desk at my second home, from when I was self isolating.
Boris: So, to round up. We’ve shut the country down, locked everybody away from each other, we’ve only ensured that people die at a slower rate than they might of and we haven’t a clue how to get out of this?
Boris: So, what do I tell this Kier fellow?
Dominic Cummings: You don’t, you say, ‘so what would you do’? That usually stops them in their tracks.
Boris: Brilliant. Anybody up for a game of virtual wiff waff?