BORIS Johnson, coronavirus, Donald Trump, Tesco, Good Morning Britain, European Union, Linda Lusardi, cats, World Health Organisation, Wuhan, and Noddy Holder. Don’t worry. He’s fine.

You had to toggle some way down the top trending stories yesterday before the words “Dominic Raab” appeared. Should we be worried that the lawyer, arch Brexiteer and now de facto Prime Minister made so few waves after taking charge?

Leading Tuesday night’s coronavirus briefing, the Foreign Secretary, once described as “a ball of barely repressed anger”, looked humble, shocked and subdued. But Raab soon showed why he was knocked out of the Tory leadership contest early doors by deftly avoiding every vital and basic question from journalists.

Did he have Boris Johnson’s prime ministerial right of veto in Cabinet decision-making – or custody of the UK’s nuclear codes? What’s the plan for coming out of lockdown – and when? No answers. Some might feel it’s too soon and Boris Johnson’s admission to ICU too sudden to expect clarity from his stand-in.

And many Scots might struggle to care which of the wooden-sounding, privileged supporters of austerity, Universal Credit, no pay rise for nurses etc is running the country right now.

But actually, it matters a lot.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'is still PM' but what power does Dominic Raab have?

Raab insists he has “directions and instructions” from Johnson about what needs to be done to “defeat” the coronavirus, and Cabinet ministers have been trotted out to deny schisms and voice support for Johnson’s rather unlovable stand-in. But c’mon.

Unless Boris Johnson is psychic, he can’t possibly have anticipated every new development in the coronavirus situation.

And there are developments aplenty.

A study by University College London has questioned the wisdom of school closures, suggesting their impact on the spread of Covid-19 is small while their economic and social consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable children, is huge. Could Boris possibly have given proper consideration to those new findings?

What about new evidence that Rishi Sunak’s loan scheme for small businesses has proved totally useless? New figures show just 0.65% of 300,000 applicants have actually received help. But there are six million small and medium-sized firms, so the vast majority didn’t even apply. Is that a surprise when companies won’t risk racking up more debt with any sort of loan?

Why not dispense with all these piecemeal measures and adopt a Basic Income as Spain has done? I’m guessing that’s not appealing for the Tories, but it’s starting to look a lot easier than the alternatives.

What about the study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, which predicts the UK will become the European country worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak by August, with more deaths than Italy, Spain, France and Germany combined? This grim analysis has been rejected by the scientists who advise the UK Government. But who is actually right?

What about the shocking lack of personal protective equipment and Covid-19 tests for frontline workers? Boris Johnson’s distribution plan hasn’t reached everyone with the right gear – nor has Nicola Sturgeon’s. So new thinking is needed from Downing Street and Bute House.

It’s the same story with ventilators. It seems new UK-produced ventilators now won’t arrive in time for the expected coronavirus peak, even though 5000 companies responded to Government calls for manufacturing help. Instead, the English NHS has used foreign imports and loans from the armed forces and private sector to obtain 10,000 more ventilators. By Matt Hancock’s own estimates, the NHS in England needs almost the same again.

Boris was in charge when the UK Government rejected an EU offer to join a joint procurement project for ventilators. How dangerously foolish that act of hubris has proven. Should Johnson’s thinking on ventilator delivery be treated as gospel by his stand-in? Clearly not.

WATCH: Dominic Raab branded NHS funding demands a 'child wish list'

IT’S unlikely, though, that Dominic Raab would have made different decisions.

He is de facto PM now because he was appointed First Secretary of State after Johnson’s leadership victory.

But a man chosen for his credentials on Brexit (thus already on the wrong side of most Scottish public opinion) now finds himself leading the way on complex issues of health, economics, justice and organisation.

That’s why Raab’s “business as usual” and “Government on Boris auto-pilot” approach is so alarming.

We need responsiveness, reflection, collaboration, honesty and a willingness to learn from new evidence and other countries right now. Not slavish adherence to exiting policies, unless under scrutiny they still seem right. If a week’s a long time in politics, it has become a minor epoch in the Covid-19 pandemic. Doubtless Raab wants to boost public morale, and encourage faith in himself as a figurehead. But that requires authority and authenticity.

Dominic Raab has neither. He was clearly out of the loop at the weekend, insisting Boris was fine just hours before the Prime Minister was finally hospitalised. Hardly a man with his finger on the pulse.

So, we’ve reached a point where the whole UK Government strategy could usefully and legitimately benefit from refreshed thinking.

Of course, it’s hard to turn the boat mid-voyage. But the tragedy of the Iolaire 100 years ago demonstrates what happens when hierarchy, fear of rocking the boat and an unwillingness to question authority overrides common sense. Hebridean sailors returning from the horrors of the First World War drowned within sight of Stornoway harbour after a captain, new to the route, mistook landmarks and steered the overcrowded ship on to the rocks.

If that feels like ancient history, consider the similar circumstances that led to Boris Johnson contracting Covid-19. One witness described a meeting at which dozens of people, including the Prime Minister, spent more than an hour in a closed room. “Some people were openly coughing, and it was all but inevitable that people were going to be ill.”

So why did this witness not speak up or intervene? Nor did scientists give politicians the full awful truth for two valuable months, according to documents just published by the respected news agency Reuters. Presumably because they, too, weren’t high enough up the political pecking order.

Self-reinforcing, defensive group-think is a dangerous thing, yet it’s also very likely in a governance system as hierarchical, centralised and topdown as Britain’s. One obvious way to mitigate such danger is a path most politicians are loath to contemplate – National Government involving Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon, other party leaders and First Ministers.

Even that might not be enough to build in diversity, reality-proof existing strategies and avoid the evident dangers of conformist thinking in the difficult months that lie ahead.

But it might be better than what looks set to happen.

Dominic Raab will front up a Cabinet that seems incapable of responding to the ever-changing face of Covid-19 or thinking on its feet in a crisis. Once Boris recuperates, he will face weeks out of action.

Constitutional experts believe the Cabinet will decide a successor and advise the Queen to appoint them as caretaker, before a full leadership election, which could take three months. That seems an epic and impossibly long timescale – and all the while Dominic Raab is in charge.

Many on the left are rightly nervous about supporting a Government of National Unity. But without one, rudderless Tories led by Dominic Raab will be making it up as they go along. And there is no scarier prospect.

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