President Sergio Mattarella of Italy, one of the quiet successes of international politics, delivered a subtle and stinging reproach to Boris Johnson’s claim that Britain was doing badly in handling Covid against Italy and Germany because of the freedoms and democracy Brits developed in the past 300 years. The clear implication is that Italians and Germans do not enjoy such a legacy.

Quite apart from PM’s comic cuts approach to history, Mattarella said that the British Prime Minister misunderstand the meaning of liberty in modern society. “Freedom implies restraint,” the Italian President told an in formal gathering – and paraphrasing John Stuart Mill, added: “Freedom is not to make others ill.”