If only we could panic buy prime ministers who know what they’re doing | Marina Hyde

If only we could panic buy prime ministers who know what they’re doing | Marina Hyde

Boris Johnson was in New York this week, trying to dodge awkward conversations and ignore domestic shortages

Is the government’s fabled Nudge Unit on a paddleboard somewhere in Crete? You have to ask, after Downing Street urged people not to panic buy petrol, a piece of behavioural science almost guaranteed to make people panic buy petrol. If only there’d been some kind of rehearsal event last year, when telling people not to fight over bog roll generated counterintuitive scenes of Andrex-fuelled violence in the supermarket aisles.

Having said all that, calls for the army to step in to assist with driving petrol tankers feel like dressing for the Global Britain we are, rather than the Global Britain we want to be. There’s a certain inevitability to a country without a foreign policy deploying highly trained soldiers to sit in traffic between BP forecourts. Is it OK to try and help with nation-building if the nation you’re building is your own? Either way, if you pass any troops gunning a tanker down one of our great highways and byways, make sure to say thank you for your service; or rather, for your service station.

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