‘Will we ever be free?’ What the papers say about the ‘Freedom Day’ delay

·3 min read

The spectre of ongoing coronavirus restrictions in England hangs over the front pages of Tuesday’s papers after Boris Johnson confirmed a widely anticipated delay to the final lifting of lockdown.

The Mail splash headline is “PM: curbs could go on and on”, and flags anger among Tory backbenchers in the strap line above the story. Inside the paper, columnist Richard Littlejohn reflects some of the discontent by saying the UK has “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”.

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The Sun’s headline reads “Will we ever be free?”, beneath the words “Nation’s torment”.

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The Times splash headline is “We must learn to live with Covid, warns PM” and inside it has a detailed analysis of the “data that delayed the end of restrictions”.

The Guardian has a picture of a glum-looking prime minister and the headline “‘Time to ease off the accelerator’: Johnson delays end of lockdown”. However, the paper says that Johnson says 19 July will be the “terminus” barring the emergence of another variant.

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The Telegraph takes another angle on that line with its headline “It’s definitely July 19 … unless it’s not” focusing on the prime minister’s caveated remarks. It’s all too much for the paper’s former editor and columnist, Charles Moore, who thunders: “I no longer support lockdown. The government is making a mistake and it will pay the price.”

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The Express, ever-loyal to Johnson, has the headline “Boris: Let’s be sensible … delay will save lives”, while the Mirror makes play of the big push to get more people vaccinated before 19 July: “Vax to the future”.

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The FT goes with the disappointment of business sectors about the delayed end to lockdown. “Business has hopes dashed as lockdown’s end delayed,” it says. The i’s headline is “No unlock for another four weeks”.

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The lockdown is also the big story for the papers outside London with the Northern Echo saying “Freedom is put on hold for now”, and the Yorkshire Post headline reading “Lockdown easing date delayed”.

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The Scotsman is also concerned about the spread of the Delta variant and reports: “New variant of virus leaves twice as many seriously ill”.

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The National says “‘Weeks of delay’ Scottish Covid curbs warning”, while also including an “onwards and upwards” message from first minister Nicola Sturgeon after Scotland’s 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic in their first outing at Euro2020.

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