As public trust falls, No 10 insists on dictating a national response to coronavirus; local leaders believe that they can do better

When he addressed the nation on 23 March to announce a national lockdown, Boris Johnson knew he had most of the British people with him. “Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together to halt the spread of this disease,” the prime minister said in his TV broadcast. “We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.”

Six and a half months on, as he prepares to announce the introduction of more restrictions and a new three-tier system across the country – at what ministers say is a “critical” moment – hospitals are filling up and death rates are rising once more.

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