But some of the UK government’s biggest cheerleaders are now tearing into it over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, slamming confusing and conflicting messaging from senior members of Johnson’s cabinet.
While the daily Downing Street briefings were initially conducted with reporters in person, they’ve been held virtually for more than a week because of strict social-distancing rules. Reporters have to take part via video chat, making it harder for them to interrupt or challenge government ministers with followup questions.
“People need clarity and candor. This evening, all they got was 24 minutes of the most pitiful, dispiriting waffle,” he wrote of the most recent press conference, lead by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
Citing former health ministers and medical experts calling the government’s handling “ridiculous,” the paper said the government was releasing scant details on a five-point plan to tackle the testing crisis.
“By a country mile, the greatest misstep of this government in cracking the virus has been the shambles over mass testing,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “Mr. Johnson says he is exasperated by the slow progress. Welcome to how the rest of the nation feels!”
Opposition party officials have even taken to citing the Mail, not a typical ally, in a clear sign the government’s communication strategy is failing.
Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s top spokesperson on legal affairs, called for the government to be more transparent and clear in its communications.
“What the Daily Mail is now calling the testing scandal or shambles is an example of a lack of both clarity of what the plan is and how it is going to be executed,” she told BBC radio.