Boris Johnson had set his face against an England-wide lockdown. He rejected the idea when Sage proposed it back in September, lambasted it when Keir Starmer backed it, but today he is announcing it.
What makes this situation so politically difficult for Johnson is that his own parliamentary party is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of an England-wide lockdown. They preferred a targeted, regional approach – and there is anger among MPs that this is being superseded by an England-wide approach just weeks after the regional tier system was introduced.
Now, you can point out that Emmanuel Macron and the Irish government have also been forced to reverse themselves on the question of a second national lockdown. But there is no doubt that this is a very politically difficult day for the government. Keir Starmer will repeatedly say that if the government had acted when Sage first proposed the idea, the lockdown would only have had to be two weeks long rather than the month that the government is proposing.
Up to now, Johnson has mocked Starmer as the captain of hindsight of this crisis. But after today, that attack won’t hurt.