Tag Archives: boris johnson

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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Ed Davey: PM’s own judgement now in question

Responding to the Prime Minister backing his scandal-hit aide, Dominic Cummings, at today’s press conference, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Millions of people who’ve made huge sacrifices to keep to the rules will be astonished and angry at how the Prime Minister is now bending the rules for his closest aide.

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Daily View 2×2: 6 April 2020

Another work week starts, although the meaning of that is becoming even more fuzzy than it was in any event. Perhaps the need for more people to work from home will create more flexible working conditions for us going forward?…

2 big stories

The Prime Minister is in hospital, as a “precautionary measure”. The speech marks are because, given the criteria for admission into hospital, he shouldn’t apparently be in there. Whatever the case though, I wish him well. The Guardian considers here who runs the country in his absence;

In his role as first secretary of state, the prime minister’s de

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+++Boris Johnson announces strict lockdown

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Here is the text of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation tonight:

Good evening,

The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades – and this country is not alone.

All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer

And so tonight I want to update you on the latest steps we are taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help.

And I want to begin by reminding you why the UK has been taking the approach that we have.

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+++Open thread – Boris Johnson’s speech to the nation at 8:30pm

Boris Johnson is speaking to the nation at 8:30pm. Some expect him to announce a “lockdown”.

Please comment below as the speech unfolds….

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If Jacinda Ardern can do it, why can’t Johnson?


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a complete lockdown of her country from Wednesday. Only essential services people will be allowed outside their homes.

New Zealand currently has 102 reported cases of Covid-19, with zero deaths from the disease.

The UK currently has 5,683 cases with 281 deaths. (Figures from John Hopkins University).

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Boris Booster!

Asked a few months ago what his philosophy is, what his politics represent, what his programme means, Boris Johnson, new UK Prime Minister, said,  “ …boosterism!” The notion of boosting morale, of boosting services, boosting business, boosting…Britain! This was and is great news, at least, from the man who during Brexit, said, f***, business!

Boosterism, is not a half bad philosophy of government, come to think of it. Certainly with more of an appeal, than say, “frugalism!” It might be the philosophy of government for the future! Whatever the concerns that populists only stand for populism,” boosterists,” of course, might not in fact only pander, to popular opinion, whether that is good or bad opinions. The public contains individuals for whom different policies might be popular. The “will of the people,” from a Liberal view, can mean, what, all the people?! Lincoln was correct; you can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people, all of the time, but not, all of the people all of the time! Boosterism might need the mood of the people, but could gain from the leadership, of the politician. What needs a boost, what are the priorities?

The new Prime Minister got off to a bad start, as a test of his approach. Not much boost to anything much, in a boot up some of his own parliamentary party, whips applied, rather than boosts, and whips withdrawn! So too, not much evidence of this new dawn for a new way, in at least as far as the public opinion goes, backing HS2 and Huawei!

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Will Boris Johnson’s popularity make us has-beens?

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I’m told that Boris Johnson was a positive factor in voters’ preferences at the last election. Apparently, it wasn’t just a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, they actually liked the captain of the ship.

To many of us, Boris Johnson is either a clown, a liar, or worse and therefore not exactly Prime Ministerial material. Not so, I hear; he is just the sort of chap an aspirational working class lad or lass would admire.

Not so much the public school boy, unkempt toff or even likable rogue. No, he is “the very model of a modern major general”. – Someone to lead us all into a post-Brexit national renewal – England’s green and pleasant land. Notwithstanding the record of his predecessors, he is the salvation of the Conservative Party, embracing the new dawn.

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The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson

My nearest and dearest booked seats for us at “The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson” at the Nuffield theatre in Southampton this week.

It seems to be your type of thing

– said her nibs.

Well, as usual she was right. It very much was my type of thing.

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Boris offers us a petrol station bouquet as a peace offering…

I’ve watched the Boris Johnson New Year greeting to the nation – feel free to take a look if you’re so inclined – and am as unimpressed as I am unsurprised.

We are promised a decade of growth and innovation, a better NHS, safer streets, an improved environment, and so on and so forth. All very nice, after all, how could anyone disagree with any of that? But, despite the suggestion that we are being invited to pull together, that we now have “a People’s Government, delivering the People’s priorities” (yes, he really did say that… again), he said little that …

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10 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics
  • Lib Dems: GDP figures show economy is grinding to a halt under the Tories
  • Lib Dem launch poster urging Remainers to stop Boris Johnson
  • Lib Dems: Boris Johnson is lying on a bulldozer instead of in front of one
  • Lib Dems: Johnson attack on international aid will destroy our global credibility

Tories’ plans on health tourism enforcement unit is the latest example of dog-whistle politics

The Liberal Democrats have today branded the Tories pledge to double the budget of the ‘health tourism enforcement unit’ as dog-whistle politics.

The Conservative manifesto states that …

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9 December 2019 – today’s press releases

Apologies to our regular readers for the temporary disappearance of this regular feature – I was away and had some surprisingly poor internet access. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency
  • Lib Dems: Brexit leak on Northern Ireland checks shows Johnson is lying to the public
  • Lib Dems: Johnson refusing to look at picture of sick child shows mask has slipped
  • Question Time debate shows Jo Swinson is a next generation leader

Liberal Democrats set out ambitious spending plans to tackle the climate emergency

The Liberal Democrats have …

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1 December 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 2)

  • Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny
  • Lib Dems: Tory no deal Brexit would increase national debt by £220 billion
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s comments show that he despises the poor and vulnerable in our society
  • Swinson outperforms Johnson cheerleaders
  • Farage, Trump and Johnson singing from same misogynistic hymn sheet

Jo Swinson: Boris Johnson is running scared of scrutiny

Responding to Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said:

Given Boris Johnson’s dismal performance this morning on Marr it is no wonder he is running scared of Andrew Neil and refusing to be held to account in debates.

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29 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table
  • Chuka Umunna: Boris Johnson continues to let down Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
  • Statement on Lib Dem campaign following London Bridge attack
  • Lib Dems are the only party that can stop the Conservatives

Boris Johnson admits no deal still on the table

Responding to this morning’s joint press conference with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart, in which Johnson admitted that no deal preparations will continue, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

Seeing Johnson, Stuart and Gove back on stage together will give people flashbacks to the lies of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. But, after

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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18 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor
  • Umunna: Repressive scenes in Hong Kong are ‘totally unacceptable’
  • Lib Dems: Leadsom shows Tories have no answers to key questions facing businesses
  • Swinson: Liberal Democrats will scrap business rates

Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor

Responding to Jennifer Arcuri’s interview on ITV last night, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary Layla Moran said:

The evidence is mounting that the Prime Minister, the then mayor of London at the time, absolutely abused his position to forward the business interests of his friend Jennifer Arcuri. This flouts the very rules he was meant to uphold and is

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12 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump
  • Gyimah: Labour plans fail meet the needs of working people
  • Lib Dems set out plans to strengthen support for survivors of violence and abuse
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s speech shows he is misleading voters again
  • Lib Dems: Selection of Chris Davies shows Tories’ contempt for voters

Refusal to publish Russian interference shows Johnson morphing into Trump

Following the reports that Hillary Clinton has said it is “inexplicable and shameful” that the UK government has not yet published a report on alleged Russian interference in British politics, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna said:

No-one knows the extent

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4 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod
  • Lib Dems: Tory Gower candidate should be removed
  • Blocking intelligence report undermines the democratic process

Trump and Johnson are two peas in a pod

Responding to President Trump’s comments that Boris Johnson was “the right man for the time” and he should “come together” with Nigel Farage, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umana said:

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are just two peas in a pod. They have the same old right wing, nationalist politics. No wonder the President is falling over himself to find an opportunity to endorse Johnson.

With his desperation to please

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1 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Farage warns Tories of Lib Dem General Election threat
  • Trickett’s comments show Labour are a Brexit party
  • Swinson: Liberal Democrats can win in seats we have never won in before
  • Lib Dems: Johnson and Corbyn running scared of Swinson

Farage warns Tories of Lib Dem General Election threat

Commenting on the Brexit Party’s campaign launch, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Ed Davey said:

Nigel Farage is correct that the Conservative Party should be very worried about the Liberal Democrats in this election. We are the strongest national party of Remain and we are ready to take the fight to Boris Johnson as well as Jeremy Corbyn.

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Hope for a brighter future

In this election there is everything to play for. Traditional voter loyalties have completely broken down, and nearly half the electorate are now regarded to be floating voters.

When talking to voters on the doorsteps and asking their thoughts on the current state of politics, the responses are dominated by the words “mess” and “shambles”.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are not popular, and are not seen as being good options to lead our country. If we get smart we can easily present ourselves as the Stop Brexit, Liberal Democrat and None of the Above party, and hoover up enormous amounts of those floating voters.

It is fear that will deter people from voting Liberal Democrat. Not fear of our policies or any character flaws in our leader, but fear that voting for us lets in the populist or the revolutionary socialist, or fear that we will prop up Corbyn or Johnson in exchange for some scraps of power.

Saying we will support neither is not enough. We have to have an offering that shows our supporters that we have a path to power, and we have to have an offering that shows the floating voters that we can stop the cartoon villains that they so fear.

That offering is a proportional electoral system.

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