IN THE face of a common enemy, coronavirus, the country united.

‘Protect the NHS’, the country’s most cherished and valued institution, the rallying cry that united us all in common cause against a deadly and pernicious foe.

But if you viewed, read or listened to the news at the weekend you were left in no doubt that the country is much more united fighting the coronavirus war than it will be winning the peace.

The government is tying itself into contortions trying to balance the need to control the virus, its desire to get the economy moving and return life to some semblance of normality with appearing to take sufficient precaution against a second wave.

Our ‘track and trace’ system splutters belatedly into life, its phone app, at one time hailed as ‘game changing’ and ‘world beating’ is lost on the Isle of Wight.

Lockdown measures are being eased amidst post-Cummings, public contempt; participants on the weekend’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest marches argued that participating in the face of the government’s clear instruction was okay because they were interpreting it according to their conscience – and who could mark them down for that...

There is now a cacophony of dissent from experts and scientists on every issue: wearing masks, going on holiday, opening schools, quarantining visitors, moving to one-metre distancing, recalling parliament, the R rate, attending protests…

Meanwhile our absurd ‘little England’ 14 day quarantine measures on those entering the country to protect us from the risk of importing the virus is riddled with inconsistencies.

Ironically, those arriving here from abroad would be well advised to go speedily into quarantine; they are far more likely to catch COVID-19 here than certainly any other country in Europe and pretty-well most countries on earth!

Our European neighbours are emerging from lockdown blinking in the summer sun, whilst we are still counting the devastation in our care homes and struggling to contain an R level tipping beyond 1.

The term ‘Winning the Peace’ is ascribed to the Roman Emperor Augustus.

He dramatically expanded the Roman Empire, and after defeating Anthony and Cleopatra in 31 BC, introduced the Romans to the new concept of sustained peace, previously a rare and temporary situation when the opposition had been beaten back or lost the will to resist.

He inaugurated the ‘Pax Romana’ – the Roman Peace – the longest period of peace and stability that Europe has seen in recorded history.

Ironic that one of the most ruthless and calculating Roman commanders is remembered as a harbinger of European peace.

I wonder how we will be judged; Coronavirus has already killed more people in the UK than died in the London Blitz; our death rate is the worst in Europe.

‘It’s in retreat’ claims a government minister. Let’s hope we do better winning the peace than we did fighting the COVID war.