After Matt Hancock affair, the mood of the nation depends on England stuffing Germany – it's the shot in the arm we need

THE fate of the nation does not rest on the result of England versus Germany tomorrow night, but the mood of the nation certainly does. 

Around 20 million Brits will be watching. Some of those who are not will mutter, “It’s only a football match.”

And they will be right. But beating the real old enemy would be the shot in the arm our country so desperately craves and so badly needs. 

Because right now the prevailing mood is less than glorious.

Because right now it feels like the UK is a nation suffering from long Covid.

The shaming of Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed a stinking hypocrisy at the heart of our Government.

When Hancock was caught with his metaphorical pants down, it proved that our rulers truly do think there is one set of rules for them and another for the rest of us. 

The frustration and the fury in the country is palpable. No, Boris – the matter is not closed. 

Meanwhile our world-beating vaccination roll-out looks like it is being squandered by craven Government timidity. 

Holidays are off

The Germans are already lounging on Mediterranean beaches. The Americans are going to watch Bruce Springsteen’s one-man show on Broadway. 

But here we are cancelling sports days for a second summer.

Our theatres, bars, concert halls and clubs are shuttered, our hospitality industry tottering on the brink of destruction.

Singing and dancing are still banned from weddings. Forget about festivals.

And even as the Government makes modestly hopeful noises about the possibility of summer holidays, President Macron and Chancellor Merkel are seeking to impose draconian quarantine rules for ALL Brits arriving at ALL EU destinations. 

All a bit rich, as Merkel and Macron are fresh from the G7 summit in Cornwall, a super-spreader event that has sent Covid case soaring in the county.

But their plans would make European holidays impossible for us, no matter what colours twinkle on the Government’s traffic light system. 

As a nation, we have been knocked about in recent years. 

The Brexit referendum was five years ago this week, but the bitter aftermath drags on even now, with the EU consumed by spite and unable to forgive the nation that dared to dump them.

The awful years of post-Brexit political paralysis were immediately followed by the worst global health pandemic for over 100 years. 

But in the greatest national effort in our peacetime history, our people did everything that was asked of them and more. 

So why does it feel like we are still cowering behind the sofa? 

'This is a chance to feel good'

England v Germany promises a moment of national unity and collective euphoria.

1966 at Wembley. 1990 in Italy. The Euros of 1996. 

After all our people have endured over the last 15 months, Tuesday night could truly mean as much as any of them. 

This is more than a chance to avenge penalty shoot-outs.

This is a chance to feel good about ourselves again. 

Resentment is growing that there appears to be one rule for the peasants and another for the elite.  

Incredibly, Matt Hancock clung to his job as Health Secretary for 36 hours after the Sun revealed he flouted the rules he made the rest of us follow for 15 months. 

Shockingly, the Government is allowing 2,500 football fat cats from UEFA and FIFA to dodge quarantine rules so they can enjoy the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Where’s the fairness?  Where’s the common sense?

Our people have given up so much during this health emergency. 

Our mood has soured

Beyond the tragic loss of life, there are all those huge life events that were missed – the cancelled exams, the school leaver’s proms, the fresher’s weeks at university, the time with loved ones.

Precious, priceless moments that were lost and will never come again.

And yet Boris Johnson plays hearty host to his G7 super-spreading chums. 

And yet the PM puts down the red carpet for football fat cats. 

And yet Matt Hancock is allowed is spared the shame of being sacked and is allowed to resign. 

The mood is sour. 

Anger with Boris Johnson’s timidity – and hypocrisy – is palpable. Frustration is everywhere.

Tuesday night can set us free. 

Stuffing Die Manschafft – the German national team – right up the Wembley Way will kick start the summer. And the country. 

For in the soul of every England football fan, no matter their generation, there is a secret chamber where it is always a rainy summer’s day in 1966, and Bobby Moore is smiling, Bobby Charlton is crying, and Nobby Stiles is dancing. 

The 1966 World Cup Final was just a football match. 

A moment to lift our spirits

But I vividly remember what it did to the mood of a people who – 21 years on – still seemed to be recovering from the wounds, trauma and sacrifice of war. 

People like my mum and dad, my aunts and uncles. It was when the Sixties started. 

We need a defining moment like that again – to lift our spirits, to remind us of who we are, to wipe away the gloom that hangs like our shroud over our battered nation.

From your local primary school sports day to the green fields of Glastonbury, this should be the height of English summer. 

Yet the summer feels like it is already slipping away. 

But what if the Three Lions run rampant on Tuesday night against the Germans?

Then it will feel like all our summer days arrived at once.

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