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Johnson should have done this 10 months ago: he’s stopping foreign travel

Gatwick Airport: there won’t be many planes overhead there from Monday (January 18).

‘UK to close all travel corridors from Monday’ says the BBC headline. Confused?

It means travel into and out of the UK will be halted, in a bid to stop new strains of Covid-19 from infecting people here.

The UK is to close all travel corridors from Monday morning to “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of Covid, the PM has said.

Anyone flying into the country from overseas will have to show proof of a negative Covid test before setting off.

It comes as a ban on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force on Friday over concerns about a new variant identified in Brazil.

Boris Johnson said the new rules would be in place until at least 15 February.

The science has been telling Johnson to do this since before March last year.

But he kept ports and airports open throughout the Covid-19 crisis, only restricting travel to and from specific countries and regions.

Now – at long last – he has finally given in to overwhelming evidence and done the right thing.

But will he ever admit he was wrong to delay for so long?

Source: Covid: UK to close all travel corridors from Monday – BBC News

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If the Brexit deal is so wonderful, why are Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg blocking scrutiny of it?

Jacob Rees-Mogg: not only does he look shifty – he’s acting shifty too.

It seems the Tories set up a committee to examine their Brexit trade deal, before it was signed – no doubt in a bid to reassure the nation that we would have a chance to check whether it is any good.

Now we see them reneging on that promise.

Are we to draw the logical conclusion – that is isn’t any good and we really need to examine it, line by line?

The government has been accused of undermining parliamentary scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal after Jacob Rees-Mogg ordered the shutdown of the cross-party committee examining Britain’s relations with the EU.

The move blocks a planned six-month inquiry into the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), grilling key players in televised evidence sessions at parliament before producing an authoritative report assessing the merits and flaws of the deal in rigorous detail.

And it means there is no Commons committee with a specific remit to monitor the implementation of the deal and the activities of the plethora of partnership councils, committees and working groups which it has created.

Committee member Joanna Cherry said the 21-member panel was being disbanded because “the government don’t want to hear the truth” about Mr Johnson’s deal.

Source: Government accused of undermining scrutiny of EU trade deal, as Jacob Rees-Mogg shuts down Commons Brexit committee | The Independent

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‘We want the best for children’ lies Starmer Labour as it blows with the wind

Keir Starmer: if he can’t stop trying to make fools of us, he should keep his mouth shut.

Only a few days ago, Labour’s message was that the best thing for children was to go to their schools – and damn the scientists who said they had become localised Covid-19 petri-dishes!

Then Boris Johnson announced that the rate of infection and death had worsened to such a point that schools had to close after all, and Keir Starmer changed his tune in a flash.

On January 4 – the day Boris Johnson announced the so-called “Lockdown 3”, Starmer’s shadow education secretary Kate Green was saying, “We don’t think schools should close.” See for yourself:

Then Johnson made his announcement and Keir Starmer said this:

He u-turned in a matter of hours.

It makes a mockery of Starmer Labour’s claim that it wants the best for children.

All he has done is follow national developments and try to anticipate the mood of the population. Then he has tried to say what he thinks people want to hear.

It is no way for a politician to behave.

How can we trust someone who will say anything if they think it will win them a few votes?

Once upon a time – not very long ago – Labour had definite principles. It offered policies that were intended to make the United Kingdom a better place for all of its people.

But that was while Jeremy Corbyn led the party.

Before him, Labour had endured 20 years of triangulating schemers who said what they thought the public wanted to hear and then did what they wanted, following policies that made them a shadow of the Conservatives.

Under Starmer, the party has relapsed to that position.

Don’t get me wrong. If the scientific position on schools had changed, then it would have been right for Labour to reflect that.

But it didn’t.

The science has shown that schools are one of the principal means by which Covid-19 can get into the homes of families across the United Kingdom – since before the first lockdown in March 2020. That has not changed at any time since.

Boris Johnson changed his mind about whether schools should open – and Starmer changed right along with him, because he thought that was what the public wanted.

But we don’t.

The UK’s public want politicians who do what is right – not what they think is popular.

Their idea of what is popular is what has killed at least 80,000 of us so far.

Covid-19: is Johnson about to mess up everybody’s plans YET AGAIN?

 

Boris Johnson seems to have an irrational urge to make life difficult for everybody.

Only yesterday (January 3), he was merrily telling Andrew Marr that schools should stay open outside London and southeast England, and that although stronger Covid-related restrictions were likely, they weren’t coming yet.

Many of us thought that was extremely off-colour, of course – he was condemning people to die because he, personally, didn’t feel like changing the situation so they would be saved.

Now we find he is announcing new national restrictions at 8pm today (January 4).

He’ll say the situation has reached Alert Level 5 – the NHS in danger of being overwhelmed. He will have known this for some time, of course. We could all see this from last Wednesday, or whenever the infection rate hit more than 50,000 per day.

But that is his excuse, it seems.

There’s no need to watch his broadcast, though – Robert Peston has already told us what the announcement will be!

Oh, and Hugh Pym from the BBC has got in on the act, too:

Why does Johnson bother talking to us himself when he leaks all his announcements to his client journalists?

This must be particularly hard for schools:

One thing’s for sure: whatever happens, Keir Starmer will still be the butt of many jokes:

Let’s be clear: This is the right thing to do – but it is happening far too late.

People have died, are dying, and are being crippled – possibly for life – because Johnson is too stupid to know when to stop trying to create a public relations victory and start trying to save lives.

He has not made a good decision about the pandemic since he first heard about it, back in November 2019.

That doesn’t change the facts:

I think James is being far too hopeful.

Johnson always starts lockdown too late and stops it too soon. We’ve seen that twice now.

I saw a great new term for this today: mockdown.

Let’s hope he doesn’t adhere to form and we don’t get another mockdown.

But I fear we will.

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Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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Tory threat to our cinemas as their failure to cope with Covid hits entertainment industry

“Delayed AGAIN???” Daniel Craig wonders whether the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, will ever see cinema release.

I don’t want to have any “it’s not their fault” mewling over this.

Cineworld is not the only venue for the creative industries that is suffering as a result of the Johnson government’s failure to get a grip on Covid-19.

But while BoJob and his buddies funnel money hand over fist to their chums in fake firms, set up in a pretence at treating/preventing the disease, they’re letting our artists and entertainers go to the wall.

They’ll say it’s because they haven’t got a legal means of helping but I think they just want to end fun in our lifetime.

Cineworld is set to temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks.

The firm is writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say the industry is now “unviable”.

The firm says it has been hit by delays in the release of big-budget films, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.

The premiere of James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed twice and is now due for release in April 2021.

Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu said: “The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.”

In a socially-distanced country, cinemas simply aren’t viable. Current guidelines mean operators should “organise seating to ensure two-metre distancing can be maintained; where two metres is not viable, one metre with risk mitigation is acceptable. Mitigations should be considered and those introduced set out in the risk assessment”. In Scotland, the two-metre rule must be maintained strictly.

That means only a handful of people can attend any auditorium at any time and it becomes unviable to employ the staff needed to run a venue.

It’s not often that I agree with this tweeter any more, but I’ll make an exception in this case:

Cineworld expects to make 5,500 staff unemployed while the 120-venue chain is closed – throwing them on the scant mercy of the Johnson government.

The hope is that they will be able to re-employ those members of their former staff who survive a winter of Covid-19 and the Tories’ harsh benefit conditions.

If that happens, I hope the company doesn’t take the easy – and very Tory – option of using this as an opportunity to cut staff pay and conditions. That would be a step too far.

Source: Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay – BBC News

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Black MP Dawn Butler forced to close office because of racist violence

Dawn Butler: here’s an MP who actually cares about her constituents’ lives, suffering appalling treatment – and a lack of overt support from her party’s leadership.

Labour’s Dawn Butler has been forced to close her constituency office due to a torrent of racist abuse and vandalism that escalated after she voiced her support for Black Lives Matter.

It seems bricks have been hurled through the windows of the office on High Road, Willesden, and staff have been attacked inside. She said the continual security risk, alongside spiralling rent costs, forced her to close the office.

But she assured residents that her constituency work is continuing as normal.

Quoted in the Evening Standard, she said:

“I continue to receive on an almost daily basis threats of violence and death threats.

My staff have been attacked in the office, verbally assaulted coming and going from work, bricks have been thrown through the windows and the frontage has been smashed.

I have had to work extensively with police and security staff to simply try and create a safe working environment for my employees. Many of these incidents were not made public in order to not encourage copycat attacks.

The Standard reported that Ms Butler had reported a torrent of racist abuse to police after she spoke in support of Black Lives Matter:

One email reportedly sent to her said “There will come a time when you can’t breath[e], and we will all be happy,” while another allegedly said: “Come the revolution you will be one of the first.”

Supporters of Ms Butler were quick to offer their support.

Her party leader was less keen. Keir Starmer had to be prompted before he would say anything:

He still waited nearly 24 hours after the closure became public knowledge before he voiced his own lukewarm support. And he’s been called out on it:

Racists will see Starmer’s reluctance as tacit support for their attacks – and who can say they’re mistaken in that?

The new New Labour leader has shown a spectacular failure to understand the issue of racism, both within his party and in the UK as a whole.

Or perhaps he really is a racist himself.

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Covid-19: pubs close after positive tests – because drunks can’t do social distancing

This is what happens when millions of people are given a chance to mess things up in a big way.

Pubs across England – that opened on Saturday because Boris Johnson told them it was safe – are closing again after finding out it wasn’t.

Either staff or customers have tested positive for Covid-19 since they reopened. This does not suggest that these people caught the virus at those pubs.

It merely suggests that anybody who was in those pubs at the same time may soon test positive themselves.

The Guardian lists a few establishments that have announced they have closed again:

The Lighthouse Kitchen and Carvery in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, said a customer had tested positive and it was making its way through a list of people who were in the premises on Saturday.

The Fox and Hounds in Batley, West Yorkshire, said it would be closed until further notice after receiving a call from a customer on Monday to say they had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Village Home pub in Alverstoke near Gosport, Hampshire, said it had also had a case of coronavirus, adding that “some of us are in isolation”.

These are only the pubs known to the Guardian writer at the time the report was filed, obviously. Who knows how many more have discovered Covid-19 in their midst – or are about to?

The reason can be attributed to something mentioned in another article from The Guardian, that it is ‘Crystal clear’ drunk people can’t socially distance:

Drunk people are unable to properly socially distance, the chairman of the Police Federation has said as pubs reopened in England for the first time since lockdown.

John Apter said it was “crystal clear” revellers would not adhere to the one metre plus rule as restrictions were eased on Saturday.

Images from London’s Soho showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

Apter, who was on shift in Southampton where he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”, said: “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

Considering this footage of Soho on Saturday, it seems the man has a point:

This Writer has been enjoying virtual pub nights since the lockdown began.

I used to go out every Thursday; now I just buy take-out tinnies and get on a video call with a few friends.

It’s not the same as being there.

But it’s a lot less dangerous.

Source: Several pubs in England close after positive coronavirus tests | World news | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: here comes the second wave as first UK hospital closes A&E due to overloading

The snake: this image was probably created to denote Donald Trump but it works equally well for Boris Johnson, especially as we are no seeing a new spike in Covid-19 infections, exactly the expected time after Johnson relaxed lockdown rules. He must have known what would happen.

As predicted two weeks ago, when Boris Johnson blithely told us all to go back to work, here comes the second wave of Covid-19 infections that he caused:

An NHS hospital has been forced to close its accident and emergency department to new admissions as a result of high numbers of patients with coronavirus.

Weston General Hospital, in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, stopped accepting A&E patients at 8am on Monday morning.

Dr William Oldfield, medical director said: “This is a clinically led decision and we are being supported by our system partners to ensure that new patients receive the care and treatment they need in the appropriate setting, and we are continuing to provide high quality care to existing patients who are being treated in the hospital.”

So there you have it.

We know that Covid-19 takes around 14 days to gestate inside human beings and, right on time, 14 days after Boris Johnson relaxed the lockdown, here it is back again.

He still wants to reopen schools to Reception-age pupils who won’t have any understanding of social distancing rules, next Monday.

So if you’re a parent being told to send your child back, you now know that it will be to bring Covid-19 home to you.

I would urge you to rely on your instincts as a parent (as Boris Johnson described the actions of Dominic Cummings recently) and protect your child by ignoring the demand.

Of course the social media are full of this latest development:

Source: Coronavirus: UK hospital closes A&E and no longer accepting new patients | The Independent

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Coronavirus: ‘Don’t call us’ say DWP as Universal Credit Claim line is overwhelmed

This is what happens when you create a system to stop people claiming benefits – and then need to pay them to millions of people.

The Tory government could just switch to a Universal Basic Income system that is straightforward and cheaper – but for some reason it doesn’t seem to want to do that.

I wonder why not?

Instead – well, read about the shambles for yourself:

From Thursday, a new frontline team will be in place to proactively call customers where additional information is required.

Customers applying for universal credit are being advised to sign-up online, where they can share details such as salary and national insurance information for the DWP to assess.

It said claims will then be reviewed, and where additional details are needed, it will get in touch with you over the phone or via your online portal.

The move, it said, is designed to take some of the worry and frustration out of submitting a claim, while speeding it up by putting an end to long call wait times.

More than 1.2 million people have applied for Universal Credit in the past three weeks, and in the past seven days more than 5.8 million calls have been made to its helpline, equivalent to three times the average per day.

That’s an awful lot of people signing up to wait five weeks before they get any money.

And they’ve overloaded the system.

On April 8, the DWP admitted access to its phone lines had to be “controlled” in order to stop critical services like NHS 111 collapsing.

Now, it is asking people to avoid its phone lines altogether.

That is not the statement of an organisation that wants to help.

It is an organisation that only wants to help itself.

Source: Universal Credit claimants sent urgent message by DWP as millions more sign up – Mirror Online

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