A brutally honest piece by Russell Jones that perfectly captures the current situation in Britain. Dark times ahead.


First published in September 2020.


This is a depressing thing to say, but we are nowhere near the worst yet and the Covid health crisis hasn’t ended. A second wave combined with normal winter NHS crisis will be horrendous. Mass unemployment will start soon. Nobody under 60 has had to feed a family through anything like it.

Even if we find a vaccine tomorrow, produce enough and then inject 67 million people, it will take 12 months – at least. By that time, projections are about 12% unemployed.

Scenarios assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus on the British economy and public finances. / Office for Budget Responsibility

There has been no public disorder yet because furlough means the unemployed generally don’t feel unemployed yet. But when furlough ends, when the high-street dies, when we see the collapse of holiday companies, airlines, car manufacturers, train companies, and countless small businesses going under... then the sh*t will hit.

Unemployment benefit in the UK is a maximum of £116.80 a week. Can you imagine what the reaction will be when 3 million people suddenly find out what it is like to live on that? Especially after 20 years being told that the unemployed are pulling in £36k and being given free houses?

Trust in government is collapsing. Few now believe them. Fewer still will believe them when they have to live on the breadline, while the lies they have heard for their entire adult lives are cruelly exposed. All the government has is lies. When they stop working... what then?

We have had, by my reckoning, 12 major U-turns in 10 weeks. The exams policy was a disaster, the minister is still in post, and we have forced our kids to go back to school just as the second wave arrives. You think parents will forget the risks, the illnesses, the deaths?

Partially due to the government’s “hostile environment” policy and Brexit, we have lost over 22,000 NHS workers born in the EU, and the care sector has over 100,000 unfilled vacancies. And here comes winter, with an ageing population and a global pandemic.

Barely noticed this week, in all the noise around the Withdrawal Agreement, is the fact that we have run out of home-testing kits, and after 6 months we are still not able to produce any UK-made PPE. So no tests and no PPE, exactly as we were in March. 6 months wasted. No solutions.

Beneath the whack-a-mole approach to governing, support for Brexit is now 41%. I cannot imagine this week’s fiasco will improve that. Yet on it goes, with the promise of an additional 5% to 9% collapse in GDP. That could be around 2 million jobs, in addition to the about 4 million Covid job losses.

That sounds bad enough, but the 5% GDP drop won’t fall evenly. For some sectors it will be 100%. Fatal. Gone. UK farming will collapse under the tariffs we face, there aren’t enough seasonal workers to pick crops, and it is likely we will see some food shortages by next spring.

Forecast for the UK Economy, August 2020. / HM Treasury

How will Brits react? Honestly, I don’t know. There was a time I thought we would be phlegmatic, but now? For all the talk of WW2 and Dunkirk Spirit, I strongly suspect we will have an absolute sh*t-fit about it. I fear riots. I fear massive, relentless, rolling social problems.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson’s approval rating among Tory activists has fallen from 92% to 24%. Rishi Sunak is far more popular, but only because so far he has been Mr Give-Away. Very soon he will become Mr Tight-Wad, and the only popular member of the government will be toast too.

They can cling to power for a long time, because an 80-seat majority is a huge buffer. But can they govern? If Johnson goes, will the nation accept the fifth PM in a row to take office without winning an election? Who will the UK accept from the woefully shallow bench of Tories?

I am sure there are people out there who rate Patel, Gove, Raab, Jenrick, Williamson, Hancock, Shapps or Rees-Mogg. But not many. Certainly not enough to command the confidence of the UK in what will be, by any reckoning, a series of vast, broiling, existential crises.

And will the UK even still exist? How can this government hold the UK together while its ineptitude kills its citizens, starves them, destroys their jobs, immiserates their kids, guts their democracy... and 3/4 of the nations that make up the UK don’t even vote for them.

Our government hasn’t got the capacity to change. They don’t have the skills, leadership, or compassion. The saner Tories quit or were driven out. Decades of lies are catching up, and they are boxed in. Imagine how badly they will respond when social unrest happens and the UK breaks up.

See. I told you this would be depressing.

But here is a GIF of a kitten to cheer you up again.🔷


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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 8 September 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - Boris Johnson. | 8 September 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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