When COVID-19 was found to be present in the UK, it was emerging from three years of political instability led by a government who had just acquired a significant majority on the platform of getting Brexit done. After some initial vacillation on the extent of the threat posed and how to minimise impact on the economy, the UK went into full lockdown with a clear, consistent message largely unchallenged. The lack of preparedness for a pandemic was obvious; however, the systems coped. It was only when it was revealed that the prime minister’s special adviser had broken lockdown rules that cracks in the consensus emerged. The relaxation of lockdown proceeded to be more chaotic, with U-turns on schools and face coverings, but the sense of national purpose and unity remains strong.