In the long run, Britain can withstand bungling politicians shaking the magic money tree. Historic levels of debt and unemployment won’t finish us, but the overreaction to Covid-19 will leave scars that define the decade. Future generations will be bewildered that a prosperous country threw its economy off a cliff in a failed attempt to suppress a disease that kills less than 1 per cent of those infected, most of them in their eighties and nineties. They will have every reason to wonder, since they will be the ones paying off the debt — or, more likely, paying the interest on the debt.
The mounting financial cost is easy enough to measure, but the true cost goes much further than that. How strange that people who believe the dubious factoid about 130,000 people dying of ‘austerity’ see no negative health consequences from this economic self-immolation. The scale of the disaster is so numbing that even the prospect of a no-deal Brexit barely registers as a problem any more. Unless the government develops a backbone, the 2020s will make the ‘lost decade’ of the 2010s look like a golden age.