Dan Wootton: Sajid Javid a 'breath of fresh air'

'The government's doomsday warnings are gone'

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What a breath of fresh air the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid was in parliament today.

While the news was still bad – Freedom Day will not be granted to us on July the 5th – Javid’s tone in total contrast to Matt Hancock.

Gone were the doomsday warnings and scare tactics from the hypocrite-in-chief Hancock.

Gone too was the lecturing tone used to hector us with constant demands on our lives and personal behaviours, which we now know Hancock was not even following himself.

Instead, Javid wanted to assure the population that he is working towards taking us back to normal life as soon as humanly possible.

I believed him too.

Critically, Javid also explicitly ruled out a Zero Covid strategy, stressing: “We cannot eliminate it, instead we have to learn to live with it".

Thank God Hancock decided to break his own Covid laws by tonguing his publicly-funded hired help – because he may just have granted us a Health Secretary who is up to the challenge of recovering from this pandemic.

During his time on the backbenches, Javid had pointed out concerns about the economic and social costs of lockdowns, becoming one of the first senior Tories to break ranks last May.

And as a well-placed source told The Daily Telegraph today: “He’s a real lockdown sceptic. He’s convinced that in a few years’ time, with the economic costs so high, everyone will be thinking: ‘Why the hell did we do that?’ The tilt in the Cabinet has just shifted quite considerably.”

Lockdown scepticism doesn’t mean opposing all forms of restrictions by any means.

But it does suggest Javid will be prepared to adequately consider the costs and benefits of regulations in the future.

That’s all I’ve been asking for.

For the past year, Australia has gladly taken international plaudits for its coronavirus strategy which has attempted to achieve the impossible: Zero Covid.

The country has brutally tried to contain the virus by banning all international travel, testing international law by blocking the re-entry of citizens from hotspots like India, and turning state against state with a draconian border policy.

But as I have been saying for all that time, a Zero Covid strategy is a dangerous fantasy.

Parts of the country, like its second biggest city Melbourne, have been forced into a constant cycle of lockdowns, due to even a solitary case.

Now there’s a major outbreak in Sydney of the Indian variant, which has forced a 14-day lockdown in New South Wales and is threatening the entire country.

Because of the zero covid policy, there is no general immunity in the community. And the country’s vaccine rollout has been painfully slow, with vaccine hesitancy high in a land that felt completely protected from the virus.

Of course, it wasn’t protected. The virus still got in. It always does.

And now – just as the rest of the western world is thinking about a return to normal life thanks to vaccine success – Australia is facing a very uncertain future.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel is right to introduce laws that will allow the government to process asylum seekers offshore.

The Nationality and Borders Bill should allow the UK to share a centre with Denmark, possibly in the African nation of Rwanda.

Something has to be done. Over 315 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats over the weekend, with the total this year now over 5,600.

New Countdown host Anne Robinson has been a breath of fresh air these past weeks on why we all need to reject the ridiculous cancel culture sweeping through the entertainment industry.

So when I heard today that the BBC was relaunching her famous game show The Weakest Link in primetime, I was delighted.

Imagine the snowflakes having to deal with Anne’s acerbic putdowns in 2021. It would be a sight to behold.

As Anne herself said this past week: “I wouldn’t get away with a lot of it now. We’re very woke these days.”

Sure enough, my hopes were quickly dashed.

The gutless bosses at the Beeb are bringing back Weakest Link. But without Anne Robinson.

Instead, the very nice comedian Romesh Ranganathan will be taking up hosting duties. Which makes the whole thing an entire let-down from the get-go.