Sir Patrick’s diary entries reveal his frustration with the former prime minister, but he also acknowledges that this was not an unusual issue. Many scientific advisers in other countries were facing similar challenges in explaining complex concepts to politicians. In fact, during a meeting with European scientific advisers, everyone laughed when it was revealed that one leader was struggling with exponential curves. This difficulty was not unique to Mr Johnson, as it was affecting many other countries as well.
During his testimony to the inquiry, Sir Patrick mentioned that the prime minister had given up science at a young age and struggled with certain concepts. According to diary entries from September 20, 2020, Mr Johnson even wondered if “we are licked as a species” before imposing another lockdown. These entries provide insight into the challenges faced by scientific advisers in communicating complex ideas to politicians and the difficulties leaders like Mr Johnson encountered in understanding such concepts.