Welcome to the daily Downing Street Covid-19 press conference. I’ll be brief.
It’s time to level with the British people. We’ve shown you graphs. We’ve bombarded you with statistics. We’ve advised you to wash your hands. We’ve told you to stay away from each other.
And OK, we’ve overpromised and underperformed. Let’s be clear about that.
But today is going to be different. No graphs. No statistics. No illness prevention advice. No more promises. I’ve not even come to apologise for all the mistakes we’ve made over the past four months. There’ll be a time for that later.
Today I just want to show you a photograph. This photograph. Slide please.
This is Mount Everest in May 2019. It’s remarkable, I think you’ll agree. A human traffic jam in one of the most inaccessible places on earth.
It’s a picture of human ingenuity. Of the human spirit. Of the power of money.
It’s also a picture of death. People in that queue died as they waited hours for their turn to reach the summit. They died because they'd overreached themselves.
In sum, friends, it’s a picture of the Anthropocene, the epoch in which the drive to conquer what we used to call Nature has backfired on us. In this epoch disasters are made by humans. Disasters like climate change. Like species extinction.
We’re all on the ridge waiting to summit. We’re getting weaker, the air is thin, the cold is intense and the technology that got us here is beginning to fail.
We could carry on climbing - but look how narrow the ridge is, how precipitous the fall on either side.
Better, we think, to turn round and begin the descent to where there’s air to breathe.
Thank you very much. Now I’ll take some questions.