The Week

Leading article

Is Boris about to abandon his own debt rules?

It’s always tempting for governments to respond to economic trouble with a debt-fuelled spending splurge, but it’s a notoriously blunt tool. The root of the current problem is not financial panic but a rational response to the coronavirus. People are travelling less, staying away from shops and the workplace, delaying various projects, and they will

Portrait of the week


Ancient and modern

Coronavirus and the lessons of the Athenian plague

The plague that struck Athens in the summer of 430 bc was a killer: it lasted for two years, returned after a year, and carried off a third of Athens’ manpower, including Pericles. From the historian Thucydides’ famous description, the plague — he caught it but recovered — bore certain resemblances to Covid-19 (allowing for


Letters: The BBC licence fee is an anachronism

Coronavirus predictions Sir: While precautionary advice regarding the coronavirus should be followed, Ross Clark is right (‘Feverish imaginations’, 29 February) to urge an open mind on the doomsday predictions which are edging us towards panic. In 1996 the then government’s chief scientific adviser, Professor Kenneth Calman, predicted that 500,000 people could die within a few