What the minister said:  I’m pleased to take questions now.  We in the government know it’s important to be seen to be open and transparent and we welcome scrutiny.

What the minister thought:  Whose idea was it to have these daily press briefings?

Journalist 1:  A question for you if I may, minister.  When will the shut down end?  Have you got an exit strategy and when will you tell the public what it is?

What the minister said:  Thank you.  As I’ve said before, it’s too early to say.  The important thing right  now is to continue social distancing because, as you’ve seen from the charts,  it’s working.  I want to thank everyone for doing their bit to flatten the curve and keep hospital admissions below NHS capacity.  That remains our priority right now.

What the minister thought:  Damn silly question.  Everyone knows we’re having to deal with this crisis on a day by day basis and that anything resembling a strategy is wishful thinking..

Journalist 2:  Should the government have been better prepared?  After all, we knew about the virus in December and didn’t announce the lockdown until 23 March.

What the minister said:  Thank you.  Our priority right now is to stay focussed on the here and now.  Once the crisis is over − and I can assure you it will be over − there will be a full enquiry into the decisions the government, guided at every stage by our expert advisers, has made.

What the minister thought:  Hopefully, when all this is over, we’ll be able to blame our expert advisers.  Anyway, there’ll have been a reshuffle by then and I’ll have returned to relative obscurity on the back benches.

Journalist 3:  Why aren’t hospital staff and people working in care homes getting the equipment they need?  We are getting reports of serious shortages and staff having to make do with bin liners.

What the minister said:  Thank you for that question.  I’d like to pay tribute to staff working on the front line in hospitals and throughout the care sector .  They are doing an outstanding job.  There have been a few problems, not with the supply but with the distribution of PPE, but the army have now been deployed and we are determined that front line staff will have everything they need.

What the minister thought:  Grrr.  I’ll need PPE myself if I have to do any more of these blasted press briefings.

Journalist 4: The message from the WHO has been unequivocal: test, test, test.   Why, in comparison  with other countries, has our record on testing been so dismal?

What the minister said:  Thank you very much for that question.  As you know,  I have set a clear goal of 100 thousand tests per day by the end of April and I’m pleased to say we are on track to achieve this.

What the minister thought:  Woe is me!  My advisers told me it would be a good idea to set a goal but they neglected to tell me it should be an achievable goal, not an aspirational one.

Journalist 5:  We are delighted to hear that the prime minister is convalescing at Chequers and wish him a speedy recovery.  Could you give us some indication of when he will be able to resume his duties?

What the minister said:  I spoke to the prime minister yesterday and can assure you he is a fighter and in good spirits.  He is enjoying being reunited with his fiancé and walking in the gardens at Chequers.  As for when he’ll return to work, he will continue to be advised by his medical team.

What the minister thought:  Lucky bastard!

Journalist 6:  I understand that the Brexit negotiations are to be resumed shortly . Will you be asking for an extension to the transition period?

What the minister said: Certainly not.  Nothing has changed and we are determined to  complete the negotiations by the 31st December.

What the minister thought:  Oh lord, another unachievable goal.


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