Transcript of the Cabinet’s COBRA meeting about Coronavirus

 

Present

Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Dominic Cummings, Rishi Sunak, a Civil Servant.

*

Johnson: If you ask me, somebody ought to just jolly well do something about this bally virus. It’s not on, I say, dash it.

Civil Servant: We await your orders, eagerly, Prime Minister.

Johnson: Ah, er, I mean, um, which is to say, of course, if, if, well, that is, if, and then, and when, and also, I mean, especially, what, gad-gad-gadzooks, man! What?

Raab: Can’t we use 3D printers to just, you know, print the cure?

Johnson: Can we – can’t we do that?

Civil Servant: There is no cure at present, Sir.

Cummings: Has anyone checked online for information about the cure, like I suggested?

Williamson: I have – there was quite a lot about it, in fact. Wikipedia says “The Cure are an English rock band, formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1978”. “Still active”, it adds here.

Cummings: Shut up, Gavin.

Hancock: What if we outsmart this virus, by using reverse psychology. Say to the virus: ‘go ahead – we want you to infect everyone, so they all die; we don’t care’?

Johnson: No, no – then it will know our tactics, and outflank us. Think harder.

Hancock: I find that sometimes the best way to think, is to avoid thinking at all.

Cummings: A practice at which we excel.

Williamson: Could we not just tell the virus to shut up and go away?

Johnson: Gavin, please. This is a serious business; and I want sensible suggestions only.

Raab: Could we use the army, to shoot the virus, with guns?

Johnson: No. Can we?

Civil Servant: Indeed not, Sir.

Cummings: You people are stupid. And that’s why you people are stupid – because you’re stupid.

Williamson: I’m not stupid. I think very hard, and am almost always right.

Johnson: That’s enough. Now, think, dash it, chaps. Think harder than you’ve ever thought before.

Civil Servant: Are you sure that will be necessary, Sir?

Hancock: I read something the other day, and according to an authority…

Johnson: An authority on what?

Hancock: Countryside churches.

Johnson: No, no.

Raab: Thinking. Thinking.

Sunak: Perhaps the smartest strategy is to have no strategy?

Cummings: We’ve already got that nailed.

Raab: Thinking. Thinking.

Williamson: Can I think as well?

Civil Servant: There is a first time for everything, Sir.

Johnson: Right, I’ve got it! By jingo, I have.

Civil Servant: Yes, Sir?

Johnson: Well, now, it seems to me…

Civil Servant: Sir?

Johnson: If, if my calculations are correct…

Civil Servant: Sir?

Johnson: And some fair few of those continge-thingies hold steady…

Civil Servant: Contingencies, Sir.

Johnson: Yes, those – that what we should do is…is…is…

Civil Servant: Sir?

Johnson: Approximately…

Civil Servant: Go on, Sir?

Johnson: Where was I?

Civil Servant: You must tell us your plan, Sir.

Johnson: Really? Right. Yes. Yes. What if, instead of fighting this virus thing, we all just, well, you know, voice our disapproval of its comings and goings, and all that sort of jazz, instead? Tell it what for. Leave it in no doubt about who is really in charge.

Civil Servant: The situation would seem to demand a more robust approach, Sir.

Johnson: Really? I thought I had it there.

Raab: I have an idea.

Johnson: About what?

Raab: I’m not sure – I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

Williamson: Wait, I’ve got it. I know what we need.

Johnson: What?

Williamson: A plan.

Johnson: Well, what is it?

Williamson: A plan? It’s a sort of, like, kind of detailed proposal – for achieving something.

Raab: Could be just what we need.

Sunak: At times like this, I say we should listen to the science. Do whatever the science tells us.

Johnson: What does the science tell us?

Raab: [Reads from phone] Oh, oh – ‘low battery’.

Johnson: Any different science to hand?

Hancock: [Shakes Magic 8 ball] ‘concentrate and ask again’.

Johnson: Ah. Very well. And, so, again?

Hancock: [Shakes Magic 8 ball] ‘better not tell you now’.

Civil Servant: If I may quote the health briefing, which evaluates the government’s present course of action, Sir.

Johnson: Yes?

Civil servant: 250,000 deaths, Sir.

Johnson: Lummy, what? Bit of a rum to do there, chaps. Nevertheless, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

*murmurs of assent*

Sunak: How many preventable deaths can we submit, and still get re-elected?

Johnson: Ah. Good question. Pertinent. Pertinent. Any ideas?

Civil Servant: Quarter of a million would seem excessive, Sir.

Johnson: Quarter of a mill? Is that more, or less, than 250,000?

Civil servant: Correct me if I’m wrong Sir, but would quarantine not be advisable?

Johnson: Quarantine?

Civil Servant: Restrict peoples’ movement, to contain the outbreak, Sir.

Johnson: Ah, I see. I see. People can just spend a week, indoors, doing nothing. We shall lead by example!

Civil Servant: You appear to have said the quiet part loud, and the loud part quiet, Sir.

Cummings: This really is a quandary. On the one hand, we can do something. On the other, we can do nothing.

Hancock: It’s impossible to say which of those is the best course of action, to stave off disaster.

Williamson: What can anyone do, if we rule-out doing anything?

Johnson: Wait, I’ve got it – I really have this time.

Civil Servant: Really, Sir?

Johnson: This is nothing that a brisk walk, and bit of British resolve can’t cure – or I’ll be bound!

Civil Servant: Are you quite certain, Sir?

Johnson: Certainly. Everyone should just jolly well go outdoors, and breath deep in the fresh air.

Civil Servant: Are you sure that’s wise, Sir?

Johnson: Um. On second thoughts, everyone should, should just jolly well stay indoors; and hold their breath until this thing blows over.

Civil Servant: Indeed, Sir?

Johnson: In fact, everyone should just jolly well do both – and do neither; at the same time! Meeting adjourned. Now, who’s for a game of cribbage?

*

Briefing for journalists

We need civility in politics. Not competence. Politics should never be political.

The Prime Minister did not make an error of judgement. It was the facts which were wrong. The science may have changed, but his opinion never shall.

Besides, the other guy offered free internet. And while people may die, due to government inaction, at least they’ll die under a PM that can sing the national anthem, dash it. Most of it, at any rate.

Further measures will be undertaken, as the situation develops.