Ten days that shook Britain and changed the nation for ever

How Boris Johnson changed his priorities: save lives first and then salvage the economy, given the UK Governments initial strategy was prepared to sacrifice weak and elderly to prevent too much damage to the economy.

There was a moment when the decisions were made when they wondered what on earth they had done, how far they had been forced to go. A moment when they sat “shellshocked”, reflecting on choices that will change Britain for the rest of our lives. “It took us the weekend to get ourselves into the emotional position where we were comfortable taking the decisions we took,” a minister said. “They were massive.”

In politics, there is so much overstatement. Not this time. Ten days ago the government was slowly gearing up its response to the coronavirus crisis, downplaying the need for drastic measures. By Monday, Boris Johnson had ordered an expansion of the state not seen since the Second World War to save the National Health Service, an institution formed in the cauldron of that conflict. A wartime-style lockdown of the capital was under active consideration.

This weekend, the events of the last week have already changed health policy, changed the economy and are already changing the people involved.

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