Tag Archives: boris johnson

Ed Davey: Boris why would you even want to party when people were dying

Writing in the Express, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson is a man without shame, or scruples. That is, in many ways, how he managed to ascend the greasy pole.”

Explaining why he had written to Cressida Dick asking her to investigate Boris Johnson’s involvement in the continuing Partygate scandal, Davey asked how anyone of sound judgement can – let alone the prime minister – think it is somehow okay to get out the party hats and knock back the wine on the very day that the government ordered everyone to stay indoors and avoid all human contact that isn’t strictly necessary.

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Daisy Cooper: Boris Johnson must resign #bbcqt

In a confident performance on BBC Question Time on Thursday night, Daisy Cooper tackled the question of the day. Should Boris Johnson resign?

She was forthright. The prime minister has broken the law. He has lied to parliament and the public. He must resign and the police should investigate.

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Ed Davey: Boris Johnson must resign

Ed Davey has said that Boris Johnson must resign over the Downing Street parties. He said:

“Boris Johnson has broken the law and lied to Parliament and the country, and he must now go.
“Millions of people obeyed the lockdown rules, often at huge personal cost. They missed funerals, cancelled weddings and said goodbye to dying loved ones on video calls – some on the very day that Number Ten illegally hosted a garden party.
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Ed vs Boris – a load of old Balls

Today has been Helen Morgan’s day. First she was sworn in and then she questioned the Prime Minister about the state of North Shropshire’s ambulance services.

But we could not let this day go by without mentioning Ed’s question to the Prime Minister, which was not without amusing incident.

Poor Ed has been misidentified twice this week. On the New Year’s Day edition of The Weakest LInk (and isn’t Romesh Ranganathan an inspired choice for that?) Jenni Falconer was asked which Ed was the leader of the Liberal Democrats. “Milliband?” she  asked, without much confidence.

Today Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had one of those moments when he introduced Ed at PMQs:

I call Ed Balls—I mean Ed Davey.

Ed replied:

Happy new year, Mr Speaker! I am sure the Prime Minister will want to join me and my Liberal Democrat colleagues in welcoming my hon. Friend the new Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan).

People’s already high heating bills are about to jump by more than 50%, with average energy bills rising by nearly £700 a year. Gas price rises will push millions more families into fuel poverty, when we know many are already afraid even to open their heating bills. Does the Prime Minister accept that he could be doing much more than he is to prevent millions of people from going hungry and cold this year while he remains—for now at least—in the warmth and comfort of No. 10?

Boris Johnson of course took the mention of the word balls and ran with it. Pretty disgraceful when you consider that there are millions of vulnerable people wondering how they are going to heat their homes, disabled people wondering how they are going to pay the extra costs to keep their breathing machines going or charge their stairlifts or scooters, all of which use a whole load of electricity. He just doesn’t care.

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Boris: “One wheel on my wagon and I’m still rolling along”

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Note: To balance out the motifs presented in the song mentioned here, you may like to visit the websites of The Native American Rights Fund and/or Native Americans in Philantrophy

Following up on Andy’s great post this morning, readers of a certain age will recall a song called “Three wheels on my wagon” by the New Christy Minstrels. You can listen to it via YouTube below. It’s a cracker.

The singer, in the persona of an American “pioneer”, describes “singing a happy song” as a wheel comes off his wagon, while he is chased by a band of arrow-firing “Cherokees” who are intent on killing the singer and his fellow wagon passengers.

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Boris Johnson is sinking into pig manure. Has he had his day?

Is Johnson about to book the removal vans and move out of Downing Street? His stint as prime minister over? Yes please. Bring the vans in and bring the tenure of this increasingly hapless “leader” to an end.

At first thought, keeping Boris Johnson is good for us Lib Dems. His incompetence helped deliver the stunning North Shropshire result and get us our 13th MP. But his incompetence is now damaging our country. After Partygate, Peppagate, backbench rebellions and today, the resignation of Lord Frost, he increased looks as though he is up to his neck in Peppa poo.

As Oscar Wilde didn’t say: “To lose one by-election Mr Johnson, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” And there is that sense about Boris Johnson. Carelessness. The sense of not having a grip on the public mood and on the mood within his own party.

Is it time for him to walk the plank?

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Daisy Cooper: Boris Johnson needs to go

The constant drip feed of stories of Government Covid rule breaking continues, most recently with the picture of Boris Johnson taking part in a quiz as the Daily Mirror reports:

After this latest revelation, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said that the Prime Minister was undermining the ongoing fight against Covid and needs to go.

She said:

This slew of rule-breaking revelations leaves Boris Johnson with nowhere left to hide.

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Lib Dems demand full statutory inquiry into Prime Minister’s flat refurbishment

Boris Johnson continues to battle his way through the maelstrom of criticism over government partying while most of the rest of the country obeyed the social distancing rules at the cost of a happy Christmas. But as so often happens when one skeleton is found in the closet, another is found under the floorboards.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain today called for an independent public inquiry into the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s flat, after new leaked messages show the PM knew more than previously alleged.

The party believes an independent, statutory public inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of the allegations. The inquiry would have the power to summon witnesses and require them to give evidence under oath, including current and former government ministers and officials, and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications.

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World Review: Oil, vigilantism in America, refugees, Swedish politics and Omicron

Prepare for an oil price war in 2022. The combatants are OPEC and a consortium of top energy consuming countries including the US, China, UK, Japan, India and South Korea. All of these countries have built up huge strategic oil reserves in case of emergency such as war or another 1973-style OPEC oil embargo. The US has the largest reserves with 638 million barrels tucked away in storage facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The last two times America’s oil reserves were used was after Hurricane Katrina and during the Gulf War. Biden is depleting them to combat the energy shortage which has pushed up prices to $81 a barrel and is threatening the US and world economic recovery from the pandemic.

The OPEC countries (and Russia), however, like the high prices and they are used to controlling the market to suit their needs by raising and lowering production. They fear that Biden’s move on economic rather than security grounds threatens their historic stranglehold on the market. An OPEC summit is planned for 2 December. The oil ministers were planning to announce a 100 million barrel increase in production from January; not enough to substantially reduce prices, but possibly enough to stabilise them. That is expected to be off next week’s agenda. President Biden also has internal problems in the form of the Republicans who advocate increasing domestic oil production and reinstating projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline to reduce reliance foreign sources. But that, of course, runs afoul of climate change promises.

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Johnson twitters while migrants drown in the Channel

How did it come this? Tens of migrants drowning in the Channel. There is a sense of inhumanity about current events. A sense of unreality. A sense that the horrors of humanity at its worst is lapping up on the shores of the Channel. Alive. But often dead.

There is a sense of unreality about our government’s response. And that of the French leadership.

This is people’s lives. People escaping the horrors of conflict and political suppression. People who want their children to go to school. People who want to set up thriving businesses. People who want to pay their way.

Instead, some of them drown. Their dreams of a better life destroyed by exploitation of modern day smugglers. Not smuggling contraband but smuggling people. There are many echoes of this from our colonial past but this a current emergency, not something you can look up in the index of a history book.

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World Review: COP26, sleaze, Africa at war and Covid

COP26 negotiators have as of this writing (Friday) entered the final stages of a draft agreement. It’s not great news for Planet Earth. So far, the gathered pledges will reduce temperature rises from the current 2.5 degree level to 2.4 degrees centigrade—well short of the 1.5 degree limit which climatologists say is the maximum the planet can bear to avoid worldwide environmental disaster. There are, however, some streaks of silver in this dark cloud. One is that the negotiators have agreed to meet in Egypt next year in a bid to make further progress. Originally it was going be another five year gap. There has also been agreement to stop deforestation. Coal has for the first time been singled for as a main polluter and many countries have promised to end its production and use. Although the US and China, the two biggest users, are dragging their feet.

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Johnson sucked into a black hole after Paterson resigns

You can’t lose more credibility than this. Boris Johnson, distracted no doubt by glad handing world leaders at COP26 and his slap up dining with Telegraph grandees at the Garrick, arrived back at No 10 to find that he was swirling towards the black hole of political failure. His attempt to protect North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson from allegations of lobbying on behalf of his food industry paymasters failed. Big time.

Jacob Rees Mogg yesterday cancelled the review of loyal Tory MPs had voted for just hours before. Paterson, back on the hook and facing suspension, resigned.

Dominic Cummings once described Boris Johnson as “a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other”. It is a cruel irony that Owen Paterson was shopping in a supermarket when he learnt that the wheels had come off his political career.

Boris Johnson, who had hoped that COP26 would be his finest hour, has perhaps made the biggest mistake of his political career and even his fellow Tories are raging.

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How to beat Johnson’s government on economics

Might election campaigns have the foundations of attractive ideas, emotional appeal and a plausible previous record?

This government has/had strong emotional appeal, especially through its leader. Its ideas have the benefit of being based on the currently dominant economic theory of Neo-liberalism. It is supported, directly and indirectly by the mainstream media which, mostly, bolsters the performance of HM Government.

Opposition parties lack the theatrical style of Mr. Johnson. Therefore attack his language techniques. Ratios of jokes to facts? Ditto facts to inaccuracies. Ditto future tenses to past tenses. Which speech has the most metaphors etc.?

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Did Boris Johnson just suggest that our Jamie Stone should be fired into space?

Maturity has never really been Boris Johnson’s strong point.

And so it was today when Jamie Stone used a question to the Prime Minister to highlight the positive development  this week which brings space port in North West Scotland a step closer:

As the BBC reports, a major obstacle was cleared:

A Scottish Land Court judge has approved a change of use of an area of croft land near Tongue in Sutherland for the building of the facility.

The land around the rockets hangar and launch pad must remain available to crofters for agricultural use.

The ruling means the first rockets carrying small satellites could launch from Space Hub Sutherland from next year.

So Jamie was joyful about this when he asked the PM if he’d come to the first launch. Boris then replied that Jamie would make a suitable payload :

But did he really mean Jamie?

Hansard, which is usually pretty accurate, says at the time of writing that Boris Johnson replied to Jamie thus:

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind invitation. I look forward to taking it up. What we need is a suitable payload to send into space, and I think the hon. Gentleman would do very well.

But if you watch the video, what he actually said was “the Gentleman Opposite” which could refer to Keir Starmer.

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Sunak and Johnson in “Barnard Castle on steroids” escape from self-isolation

You couldn’t make it up. It’s like reading the cover of Private Eye. Health secretary Sajid Javid gets a positive Covid-19 result. If the Prime Minister and Chancellor, who met with him on Friday,  were ordinary mortals, they would have been banished into the self-isolation wilderness for 10 days.

But those at the heart of government live more privileged lives. Driving to Barnard’s Castle to test eyesight. Sneaking a clinch with a mistress, though forgetting to smile for the CCTV. And now Johnson and Sunak, who must not to be confused with the comedy act Laurel and Hardy no matter how tempting that is, are on a trial. They are piloting a stop at work with Covid scheme and testing daily.

 

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Is Boris Johnson gambling on tonight’s Euro final to boost herd immunity?

Crowding together. Shouting. Singing. Welcome to the excitement of football. As England and Italy prepare for the Euro final, scientists are concerned that football is helping drive up Covid-19 infection rates by allowing potentially super spreader events such as the finals at Wembley and Wimbledon. It is predicted that seven million pints will be served during the Euro final tonight in pubs across the land. Health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested we might be heading towards 100,000 new cases a day. Did he take sporting events into account?

It’s coming home but could coronavirus also be coming home with the fans? Maybe Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want that. Could the Euro final be a booster jab that gets us closer to herd immunity.

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Towards a one-party culture in the media

We should all be concerned that not only is this a populist government, but they are using Boris to ensure that the media sees every event from their point of view, thus brainwashing people into thinking that any criticism is not to be taken seriously. We have long complained about lack of attention to the Lib-Dem leader, but we should be concerned about the lack of attention to the Labour leader too. Conservatives are intent on squeezing any challenge to the margins, including a diminishing of the independence of the BBC and the case of Martin Bashir and Lord Hall gives them the ammunition they need.

We must learn from what happened over Brexit when, for over a decade, the Brexiteers worked hard at getting more of the public on their side. We assumed that they so distorted the truth that people would see through them, but they did not, mainly because they spoke to people’s basic emotions.

We have seen the bias in comments about Dominic Cummings’ appearance before the select committee on 27th May, slanting it to the first Covid wave and Dominic’s own lack of credibility, rather than focussing properly on what actually happened, especially in subsequent events.  Before that ‘interview’ I wrote a letter to my local paper and it was published on 26th May:

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Ed and Tim angry at “callous” statement by PM

Both Ed Davey and Tim Farron have been quick to show their anger about the reported “Let the bodies pile high” remark by PM Johnson:

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Immoral – Conservative MPs are tarnished by association with PM Johnson

Roger Roberts – Lord Roberts of Llandudno – has written a letter to his MP, Robin Millar, as follows:

Dear Robin,

Like many other constituents, especially Christian church members I am deeply disappointed in this government and this prime minister. Whether this attitude is reflected in the coming elections is of little importance, so much of the moral lead necessary in a prime minister cannot be found in Mr Johnson. Your own character is tarnished by association with him. I would welcome a meeting and discussion with you.

Yours faithfully,
ROGER – Lord Roberts of Llandudno

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The Tragic loss of 100,000 lives to Covid

According to official figures, the UK became the first country in Europe to record (very unfortunately) 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Currently, the UK has the fifth-highest number of deaths globally, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico (as a percentage of Covid deaths to population, the UK percentage is higher than that of the US).

To put this into perspective, the 100,000 deaths registered are higher than the civilian death toll during all of World War II.

“I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done,” said Boris Johnson.

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Families of those of who have died from Covid-19 deserve answers – Ed Davey

Ed Davey has responded to Boris Johnson’s refusal to lay out a timeline for a public inquiry into his Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis:

Boris Johnson says there will come a time to learn the lessons of the pandemic, but the public will rightly ask, if not now, then when? The best time to learn lessons and prevent the most deaths is today.

The Prime Minister can’t tell us exactly when schools will return safely, can’t tell us when most of the country will be offered a vaccine and can’t tell us when the current lockdown will end.

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How fragile is our democracy?

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“Democracy is precious.  Democracy is fragile.” – Joe Biden reminded us in his inauguration speech. The ceremony was a cheering celebration of constitutional democracy, with the three branches of the federal government interacting to mark the change of administration.

British democracy remains fragile, without much prospect of strengthening its institutions or healing its divisions before the 2024 election.  Our prime minister wields executive ‘prerogative’ powers inherited from the Tudor and Stuart monarchies.  The queen appointed Boris Johnson prime minister, a day before Parliament rose for its summer recess.  He then attempted to prevent Parliament from sitting for an extended period, to allow himself to govern without scrutiny.  And, of course, he, many of his MPs and the right-wing press labelled the Supreme Court ‘the enemy of the people’ for ruling that he lacked the prerogative authority to do so.

The Vote Leave campaign fought the 2016 referendum with the cry of restoring parliamentary sovereignty.  Johnson scarcely conceals his contempt for Parliament and its scrutiny: whipping his backbenchers to support whatever ministers propose, pushing through bills which allow ministers to fill in the details later (under what are called ‘Henry VIII powers’), and packing friends, relations and donors into the Lords.  Ministers insist that the 43.5% vote they received last year represented ‘the will of the people’. Local government continues to be weakened, starved of funds, bypassed by contracts given to consultancies and outsourcing companies.  No wonder so many voters are disillusioned and alienated from conventional politics.  Ministers are also trying to bully the Electoral Commission, and to raise spending limits for campaigns to favour their well-funded party.

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EU Trade Deal: there are no good options left

European and British flags.

I hate 13th December. I really, really do.

On this day in 1984, my Grandma died, way too soon, at the age of 64. I still miss her.

And last year, in the early hours, any hope of avoiding Brexit evaporated as Boris Johnson got a majority that could have enabled him to govern with more wisdom and flexibility from the constraints of the reckless extremes of his party. He chose not to take that chance.

On top of it all, we lost Jo. I’m still not over that. She remains one of the most exceptionally talented people I have ever known. She’s proof that the best people don’t always win in politics.

An election once Jo had had the time to establish herself would, I suspect, have had a very different result.

We are where we are though. And it isn’t fun. 2020 has not excelled itself. A couple of bright spots – the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to be confirmed by the Electoral College tomorrow, the development of effective vaccines against Covid have not lifted the gloom by much.

Now the dreaded 13th December is the day we enter the final stage of the Brexit drama.

Whatever emerges from the EU negotiations over the next hours is going to be far from good. We’re looking at a catastrophic no deal or a damaging fig leaf of a deal that will hurt our businesses and cost people their jobs and homes. Let’s be clear. The Government is choosing this path. It had better options open to it. When we were gripped in the first wave of Covid, they could have done the responsible thing and requested an extension to the transition period. We’d have voted for it, so would the SNP. Labour probably would and the EU would almost certainly have granted it. The more excitable ERG types on the Conservative benches would have made a lot of noise, but we would have bought ourselves some time and stability.

I’ve always thought that the Brexit agenda was mostly about turning our economy into a low regulation, rights-free zone. This is why they are so resistant to any future improvements in things like environmental standards or workers’ rights. They dress it up as sovereignty, but it’s an oligarch’s charter really.

They manipulated people’s feeling of powerlessness with false promises of taking back control. The truth is that those people at the sharp end, the lowest paid and most vulnerable, will have less control than they had before.

There should be no problem with accepting the EU’s reasonable level playing field requirement in the trade deal. I doubt that there will be any major changes within the next few years anyway. These things take time to get through and would take even longer to actually come into force. If there were any changes, we could debate them and decide whether to accept them or take the consequences.

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Observations of an expat: Looking foolish

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Everyone hates to look foolish. To avoid this hugely embarrassing peril they will often go to great lengths ranging from self-deception to conspiracy theories to lies.

And the greater the personal investment in an untenable position the more difficult it is for the investor to change direction and face the chorus of “I told you so’s.”

Two of the most prominent examples of this foolishness are Brexit and Donald Trump. Millions of intelligent Americans have invested their political heart and soul in the Cult of Trump. They cannot comprehend the possibility of his losing the November presidential election. Therefore, their leader must be the victim of a massive fraud.

The numerous election officials – Republican and Democrat – who consistently maintain that the vote was the fairest in American history are evil participants in a Deep State conspiracy. They are in an unholy league with the courts that have repeatedly dismissed the Trump campaign claims of election chicanery.

The fact-filled brick wall that Trump supporters have bumped up against has led some of them to call for dangerously extreme measures. Pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has, for instance, called on President Trump to suspend the constitution, cancel the election result, declare martial law and then use the military to oversee fresh elections.

Britain’s Brexiteers are faring equally badly, although in a different way.

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Jo was right about Boris

It is self-evident we have a calamitous Prime Minister; we spelt out the warning ourselves.  Johnson presides over a cabinet of mediocre yes-men not selected for ability, but for their Brexit purity and for their low risk in upstaging Johnson with an unexpected whiff of competency.  The Tory conference is a time to take stock. Even amongst Conservative members there are signs of queasiness: in a recent ConservativeHome sounding of party members, only Gavin Williamson outflanks Johnson for dissatisfaction.

Less than 10 months ago Jo Swinson clearly upbraided Johnson for having ‘dragged the office of Prime Minister through the mud’. Johnson has not only continued to besmirch his office but, by disregarding the rule of law, has shredded the UK’s standing around the world.  The UK can no longer criticise breaches of international law without inviting an inevitable riposte.

‘Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister’ Jo continued, ‘not just because he doesn’t care, not just because he lies but because also he is complicit in stoking division and fear and in our communities.  Johnson has no shame when it comes to the language he uses about race’.  She was spot on; for manifold reasons Johnson is unfit for his role. Shame seems a sentiment unknown to Johnson, moreover he is indolent, unable to master his brief, expecting the general public to know what is asked of them better than he does himself.

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Reflections on the Internal Market Bill and Boris Johnson’s cooking skills

The genesis of the “law breaking” part of the Internal Market Bill can be traced back to Theresa May’s actions as PM. The following words were said to Theresa May at the time by Sir Ivan Rogers, former British Ambassador to the EU. He reported his statement to her to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons:

You have made three commitments in good faith to different audiences, but they are not really compatible with each other.

You have said to the Irish… under no circumstances will a hard border be erected across the island of Ireland.

You have said to the Democratic Unionist community that under no circumstances will there be divergence from the rest of Great Britain.

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Boris on Care: wrong words, right target

The corporate voice of the care sector is up in arms about the PM’s comments on care. Of course, his remarks about care homes, not following procedures were sly and clumsy, but he is right that the care sector should shoulder some of the blame for the virtual decimation of their aged residents.

Clap for carers was a touching display of community empathy for people in the front line but neither this outpouring nor the tragic deaths of care home staff should make the care sector itself exempt from criticism in the forthcoming debate on social care reform.

Just before this crisis …

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Can we ignore government guidelines if they aren’t legally enforceable?

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Dominic Cummings’ reckless behaviour has opened a rats nest that could undermine the battle against the pandemic.

If we thought that all government rules were the same, we were mistaken. There are two kinds:

  • regulations where the police can fine us if we break them. For example restrictions on our movement (see regulation 6 here).
  • guidelines where the police can’t take action. For example, the guidelines to stay at home if you are infected.

Remember this when you read the following quibble from a Number 10 spokesperson: “The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations.”

What the Durham police actually said was: “Durham Constabulary does not consider that by locating himself at his father’s premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence… (We are concerned here with breaches of the Regulations, not the general Government guidance to “stay at home”.)”

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James O’Brien on Boris Johnson defending Dominic Cummings

James O’Brien was so incensed by Boris Johnson’s defence of the indefensible actions by Dominic Cummings that, on Tuesday, his day off, he broadcast his thoughts on LBC. It is extremely powerful. You should listen to it.

 

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Ed Davey: Johnson must sack Cummings now

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Shortly after Dominic Cummings’ extraordinary media conference, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said:

Countless people have lost loved ones and made enormous, heartbreaking sacrifices every single day since lockdown began.

Dominic Cummings has shown that these sacrifices by millions of people don’t matter to him. His refusal to have the decency to apologise is an insult to us all. It reveals the worst of his elitist arrogance.

The bond of trust between the Government and the people has well and truly been broken. The buck stops with the Prime Minister. By failing to act, he risks his Government’s ability to tackle this awful pandemic and keep people safe.

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