In all of the leadership contest drama, we must not forgetthat many of the problems now we face are the disastrous consequences of lockdown restrictions. A new paper shows that lockdowns and restrictions were not worth the enormous costs we now face. As respiratory viruses inevitably surge this autumn, the new prime minister must not succumb to siren voices calling for more destruction of our economy and our relationships.

Amid the justified hullabaloo over parties in Downing Street, there has been too little debate about the nature of the lockdown rules themselves. Just how were they arrived at? Did their benefits outweigh their costs? These are the important questions.

We will long remember the horrors of Covid-19 restrictions. In England, we were under effective house arrest, places of worship were closed, people couldn’t say goodbye to their loved ones, it was illegal to sit on a park bench, Christmas was effectively banned, schools were closed for long periods, and the economy, for the most part, was shuttered. A repetition of such measures on the same basis would be intolerable.