The former Red Devil said he’s worried that the leader’s decisions had an economic basis and that his messaging was muddled
The former Manchester United and England right-back, who closed the Manchester hotels he has a stake in so they could be used for health service staff, suggested the decisions made by Johnson were driven by concerns over financial matters rather than the health of the British public.
Although the Prime Minister has suggested people self-isolate to combat the spread of the virus he has fallen short of saying pubs and bars must shut, and schools will remain open through Friday despite being shut in many places around the world, decisions which attracted Neville’s ire.
“In moments of crisis the real leaders stand up and make tough decisions, which sometimes go against the grain of essentially what’s happening,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“The government at that time [the beginning of the pandemic], through Boris Johnson, were essentially zig-zagging all over the place with their messages.
“Even today he’s talked about ‘let’s protect each other.’ I watched his address earlier on and he talked about self-isolating, protect yourself and each other, be resilient on this, but he’s not shut clubs, bars, restaurants, pubs – schools aren’t closing until tomorrow evening.”
“The messages are so conflicting from the government and, to be fair, economically driven at times, I have to say.”
It’s not just Johnson that Neville is unhappy with either. He suggested the Premier League trying to play another round of games in the teeth of the crisis demonstrated the muddled leadership he attributed to the Prime Minister.
He soon returned his attentions to the former Mayor of London however.
“I felt the Premier League saying that the games would continue for another weekend was almost ‘winging it’ to try and get another round in,” he added.
“I understand the complexities of it, but I do feel decisive leadership is important…Every time I see the chief medical officer [Chris Whitty] stood next to Boris Johnson, he looks more and more uncomfortable.
“He did explain his strategy with the prime minister present, and then was challenged by 200 other scientists over the weekend and then Matt Hancock on a Sunday programme suggested they weren’t going to pursue that strategy.
“Ultimately, I’m not a scientist, but you have to have consistency of message and decisive leadership.”