Author: Jane Thomas

Jane is an experienced campaigner and former university politics lecturer. She was head of the England team for Friends of the Earth and more recently coordinated the Brexit Civil Society Alliance. Jane is a committed devolutionist - she helped set up the campaign for the English regions and was director of Campaign for Yorkshire until 2004. Jane has three grown up children and lives in Sheffield with her husband, where she is involved with Sheffield’s Fairness Campaign.

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Bordering on the ridiculous

Jane Thomas

With fewer than 90 days to go before we complete the transition period and leave the EU completely, the government has finally published its Border Operating Model to explain how the borders will work for freight after Brexit. The 138-page densely packed document details the paperwork and formalities that will be required due to Brexit. […]

Grim Up North

Jane Thomas

If ever there was a case for proper devolution – that is, a settlement with appropriate powers, decision-making, and accountability at either city or regional level – then news today that an announcement of further lockdowns for the North of England is expected within days has just made the strongest of cases. Despite gestures towards […]

Shortages in supply chain “terrifying”

Jane Thomas

News that Roche has admitted that processing capacity has seen a “very significant” drop should ring alarm bells. They are the major provider of swabs and reagents to Lighthouse Labs, who are responsible for processing the majority of Covid-19 tests. This follows hard on the heels of the technical glitch that delayed the reporting of […]

Sheffield coronavirus cases triple in a week: where does the buck stop?

Jane Thomas

As Health Secretary Matt Hancock took to his feet yesterday to explain to parliament, again, what had gone wrong with the government’s ‘world-beating’ system to defeat the virus, it emerged that the number of those testing positive for Covid-19 in Yorkshire had risen sharply.  According to Yorkshire Live, analysis based on Public Health England (PHE) […]

There’s summit about flooding

Jane Thomas

The long-awaited flooding summit will convene at last on 8 October, following a concerted effort by Dan Jarvis, Barnsley MP and South Yorkshire mayor, and the Yorkshire Post. However, in what is a travesty for the rest of the region, the summit is for South Yorkshire and not the whole of Yorkshire. After being pressed […]

The circuit breaker has just fused the system

Jane Thomas

As the test and trace fiasco unfolds there is more unwelcome news: we may be two years off a mass vaccination programme for the whole country. The i reported yesterday that the mass rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK could be delayed for two years by the government’s failure to get to grips […]

Test and Trace failing to either test or trace

Jane Thomas

As if to confirm what most of us already know, tonight’s BBC Panorama programme, Test and Trace Exposed, will reveal the extent to which test and trace simply is not working. Alex Lee, who worked for the BBC four years ago, is the programme’s on-screen reporter. Lee was hired as a clinical contract caseworker to […]

From Operation Moonshot, to Project Overshot

Jane Thomas

Many were gripped by the shenanigans in parliament on Monday, and as the details unfolded so too did the government’s dilemmas. While I doubt they’re talking much about the internal market bill down the Dog and Duck, it’s certainly giving the government a headache – and one very much of its own making. The political […]

Rebels with a clause: now the fun and games will start

Jane Thomas

Ester Weber, reporter at The Times told twitter this morning: “One Tory MP in a big Leave constituency tells me: ‘In a patch like mine I think almost anything would be tolerated in the name of Brexit … Except fly-tipping.’” This may well be true, and the expectation that the government is about to fall […]

Jam tomorrow: Brexit, lorry parks and congestion planned for Hull

Jane Thomas

Spare a thought this weekend for Hull, with the news that ministers will be using new powers to buy land to provide Brexit lorry parks and customs facilities, to deal with the extra border checks around the Humber. In a case of “no shit Sherlock”, the government has finally woken up to the fact of […]

A tale of two cities: the state of Sheffield

Jane Thomas

This Friday sees the annual State of Sheffield event, an opportunity for Sheffield City Partnership to showcase its work of the last year, and for people across the city to identify and shape plans for the future. Unsurprisingly, the unprecedented challenges of coronavirus have meant this year’s report is focusing on what life has been […]

Johnson claims the (oven ready) deal will be ready by September

Jane Thomas
Boris Johnson in Downing Street

Tuesday saw the start of round seven of talks on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union. The UK and the EU have now been in negotiations on their future relationship since 2 March 2020, which makes you wonder just what they have been talking about and why there’s been so little progress. Part of […]

Public health should be in public hands

Jane Thomas

This morning on BBC Radio 4, Minister of State for Health Edward Argar attempted to defend the indefensible by suggesting that the government will stick with Serco to provide the essential coronavirus test and trace programme. This is despite mounting evidence of the abject failure of the current test and trace programme run by Serco, […]

Testing (and tracing) is not just for schools

Jane Thomas
adorable blur bookcase books

It may only be August, but as far as Covid-19 is concerned, it’s now all about autumn and winter. In particular, what is concerning for children, parents, educators and employers is how prepared the country is to reopen schools and what impact this will have on the pandemic. Will it be safe enough for our […]

Walls come tumbling down

Jane Thomas

Last week I visited Keighley – my first foray into the non-Sheffield outside world since lockdown restrictions were lifted. The last time I visited was on the eve of polling day in the 2019 general election to help the sitting Labour MP John Grogan. Professional to a tee, John was maintaining an air of quiet […]

On the buses

Jane Thomas

The order creating Yorkshire’s first devolution deal was finally signed on Monday by Simon Clarke, minister of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, after five years of dispute between the four local authorities of Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. Originally signed in 2015 it collapsed in 2017 when Barnsley and Doncaster signalled […]

Johnson puts a troubled year behind him and faces a winter of discontent

Jane Thomas

If a week is a long time in politics, then a year seems interminable. On 24 July 2019 Boris Johnson entered Number 10 having comfortably won the Tory leadership election with a pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers and “fix the crisis in social care”, as well as deliver extra funding for schools and […]

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Jane Thomas

The latest round of EU trade talks taking place in London is expected to end on Thursday in a deadlock. The Telegraph reports that the government’s working assumption is that we will be unable to agree a deal with the EU by the time the transition period ends, so Britain will trade with Europe on […]

Levelling down: councils face bankruptcy as funding dries up

Jane Thomas
coins and a piggy bank

It may have been the last day of term for our MPs, but they went out with a bang. Monday night saw Conservative MPs, having whined about wanting to take back control, give most of it straight back to the executive. A Tory backbench attempt to give parliament a definitive say on post-Brexit trade deals […]

Talks of levelling up the North at the Northern Powerhouse summit

Jane Thomas
black and white blackboard business chalkboard

Yorkshire looks set to get more devolution deals next year, according to Simon Clarke, minister for regional growth and local government. This could see the whole of Yorkshire soon having some form of devolution settlement. Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse education, skills and employment summit this week, the minister said, “In the North of England, […]

God’s own county comes good

Jane Thomas

News that Boris Johnson has proposed moving both Houses of Parliament to York while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished will be met with glee by Yorkshire devolutionists. In a letter seen by The Times the prime minister casts doubt on the £4bn renovation project that was agreed in 2018. Esther Webb, reporter for the […]

Masking the real problem for Boris Johnson

Jane Thomas

The belated news that wearing face masks is so important that we have to wait another ten days before it comes into force is another example of how we are being played by this government. Interviewed by Andrew Marr last Sunday, Michael Gove said he did not think face coverings should be compulsory in shops […]

Check Change Go (and the Farage Garage)

Jane Thomas
woman sitting on luggage

There are 170 days until we leave the EU, and just five working days left before MPs go off on their summer jollies. Those with any sense may want to think about using their vacation to visit the EU now (quarantines permitting) before the unprecedented travel measures kick in from 1 January next year. To […]

The BOGOF chancellor

Jane Thomas

“The final measure I’m announcing today has never been tried in the UK before. This moment is unique. We need to be creative.” said Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday in his summer statement. And with that final flourish he announced the latest BOGOF (buy-2-get-1-free) scheme to hit the high street. Promising discounts of up to […]

Sunak’s magic money tree

Jane Thomas

A lot could still go wrong, but this an opportunity to do the right thing with more honesty, transparency and attention to detail. It remains to be seen whether Sunak will grasp this opportunity.

The fracturing of the union

Jane Thomas

Something quite profound was published at the weekend that largely went unnoticed in England. Maybe some people were just nursing the mother of a hangover while others were just thankful that Super Saturday was over. But what’s happening in Scotland should be one of the biggest political stories in Britain right now and it’s barely […]

Continued confusion from Johnson

Jane Thomas

Today’s daily press briefing was important, coming as it did on the eve of lockdown restrictions being lifted despite thousands of new Covid-19 infections every day. Indeed, Boris Johnson was only too aware that he had to tread a careful line between being upbeat and giving a sense of being in control of the pandemic. […]

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