Emergency State

Emergency State

How We Lost Our Freedoms in the Pandemic and Why it Matters


Brought to you by Penguin.

On 26 March 2020, a new law appeared. In 11 pages, it locked down tens of millions of people, confined us to our homes, banned socialising, closed shops, gyms, pubs, places of worship. It restricted our freedoms more than any other law in history, justified by the rapid spread of a deadly new virus.

You might have expected such a law to be fiercely debated in Parliament. But it wasn't debated at all. A state of emergency was declared, meaning the law came into force the moment it was signed. The state of emergency lasted for 764 days, whilst ministers brought in over 100 new restrictions, almost never debated, increasingly confusing the public, and some - we would find out - stained with corruption. Meanwhile, behind the doors of Downing Street officials and even the Prime Minister broke the very laws they had created.

This book will tell the startling story of the state of emergency which became an emergency state, how extreme measures caused constitutional chaos, and why it is only by understanding these unprecedented events that we can learn lessons for the future.

'Superb... authoritative, thoughtful and terrifying in equal measure', The Secret Barrister

'Astonishing. Detailed, dispassionate and definitive. An urgent warning and work of major importance', James O'Brien

'A riveting account of how our democracy was put under threat during the Pandemic and why we must never let the Emergency State - all-powerful but ignorant and corrupt - take over again', Lady Hale, former President of the UK Supreme Court

'Clear-eyed, forensic and compelling, Wagner sets out what during the Covid-19 pandemic - and the lessons we need to learn', Jonathan Freedland, author of The Escape Artist

© Adam Wagner 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022


  • Superb... authoritative, thoughtful and terrifying in equal measure
    The Secret Barrister

About the author

Adam Wagner

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