Section: UK

Hancock hauled over the coals by UK Statistics Authority

Anthony Robinson

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been rapped over the knuckles by Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority for providing figures on coronavirus testing that “are still far from complete and comprehensible.” In a letter dated 2 June, Sir David said the purpose of providing statistic was firstly to help understand the pandemic […]

This is no way to run a pandemic never mind a county

Jane Thomas

Government initiatives over the last seven days have been rather like the 82 bus – none for ages and then more than you can wave a stick at. Schools reopened. Outdoor retail such as markets and car showrooms in England allowed to open. Restrictions adjusted for those currently shielding. And people can now meet in […]

Brexit will take us from coronavirus to omnicrisis

Anthony Robinson

Coronavirus is first and foremost a health crisis but it will soon become an economic one – with the cost of Brexit about to be added. The Social Market Foundation (SMF), an independent think tank, yesterday launched a report that lays out the devastating impact of wilfully boosting a natural crisis with a man-made one. […]

Government announces (EU) funding for high street businesses

Jane Thomas

With the wealth of government initiatives in the last seven days, one can be forgiven for missing the announcement by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke of a £50 million pound fund to help kick-start high street businesses and other public spaces, such as beach fronts and promenades. The announcement was made on 24 May, with […]

What is wrong with this country?

Hecate

Something is rotten to the core when others no longer call the UK ‘plague island’ in jest, but take steps to shield their own countries from UK holiday makers: Greece was first, and Spain looks set to follow. You’d have thought that anyone would pause, look at what successful countries are doing and follow their […]

Ex Tory MEP breaks ranks to demand an extension to the transition period

Anthony Robinson

A former Tory MEP has called on Boris Johnson to extend the transition period, warning that leaving the EU without a trade deal together with the impact of coronavirus would be “catastrophic” for the economy. Struan Stevenson, writing in the Scottish daily The Herald said it “makes sense” to have longer for the transition talks because […]

The legend that is Van-Tam

Louise Houghton

The daily coronavirus briefing has morphed into a propaganda show, with the government now using every opportunity to trail a good news story to distract us from the reality of their incompetence. Saturday night’s show was no exception and the culture secretary Oliver Dowden warmed our hearts by announcing that a third of all remaining […]

The folly of ending freedom of movement

Mike Buckley

Freedom of movement was always the most personal right won through EU membership. It made EU citizenship feel real, the thing that meant we could – almost – get on a plane to Spain and not worry about whether we would ever need to come back. This was never entirely true – it was always […]

Future funding in these Covid times

Jane Thomas

Coronavirus has changed the political landscape in a way that would have been unimaginable this time last year. But while the government grapples with one of the biggest challenges since the Second World War, there are some political certainties that remain. One of the most significant is the completion of the details of our exit […]

Test and trace is another programme designed to fail

Helen Davidson

On 25 May Yorkshire Bylines published a piece on the government’s laissez faire approach to handling the crisis and its unwillingness to take decisive action until forced to do so. This followed a report in the Sunday Times about the government’s dithering over whether or not to implement a UK-wide lockdown. The paper estimated that […]

A slap too many

Hecate

The weekend’s upon us and over 161,000 have signed up on Facebook for the ‘Road Trip to Durham for Sunday lunch with Dom’s mam’. Irresistible, or maybe not. This week, 61 Tory MPs called for the brat who’s trashing UK-Toytown PLC to be sacked. The PM told us to “move on” and ignore the lies, […]

Is Boris Johnson Dominic Cummings’ Willy?

Anthony Robinson

Margaret Thatcher had William Whitelaw, a Tory of the old school to help keep the party together when things got tough; she famously said “every prime minister needs a Willy”.  Up to now, in a strange reversal of roles, it seemed Johnson was Cummings’ Willy. The two most powerful men in Britain certainly make an […]

The Daily Express: fishing in a parallel universe

Anthony Robinson

The Daily Express has for a long time had the reputation as the newspaper for a parallel universe. For several days they have been suggesting that the EU is about to offer huge concessions on fishing rights in order to help reach an agreement on trade with the UK. The headlines have been increasingly jingoistic. The […]

New Immigration Bill is Priti poor

Martin Brooks

It’s never too late for a grown up debate about immigration. Martin Brooks assesses the limited, inflexible thinking in the latest Immigration Bill and reviews the shortcomings of the endless public debate on immigration. The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020, which returned to Parliament for its second reading last week, puts […]

The Cummings affair and its role in undermining government authority

Sam Slater

The last few days have unearthed a remarkable series of events, which has led to perhaps the most extraordinary crisis a British government has ever installed onto itself. No special adviser to the government has ever held a press conference whilst in government to explain their own actions, especially not in the comfortable setting of […]

Cowan’s plague journal: the real Cummings statement

Alistair Cowan

Sorry I’m late. First of all, I’d like to refute some of the blatantly untrue stories circulating about me on social media. Particularly those published on Twitter by supportive cabinet ministers. I’d like to address the recent allegations now. I was informed that the prime minister and several other No 10 colleagues had displayed symptoms […]

Dominic Cummings: mastermind or fool?

Anthony Robinson

The only way to make sense of yesterday’s press conference by Dominic Cummings in the Downing Street rose garden is to assume it was a tissue of lies from start to finish. To do otherwise, you would have to think the arrogant ‘mastermind’ Cummings is nothing more than an irrational idiot. The self-proclaimed intellectual giant, […]

The cost of dither and delay

Helen Davidson

On 23 May Jonathan Calvert, George Arbuthot, Jonathan Leake and Dipesh Gadher published an indictment of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. The Sunday Times report examines the government decision-making process in the crucial three weeks from 2–23 March as the number of cases in the UK rose from 14,000 to 1.5m. The report […]

Johnson’s SPAD digs him a hole

Anthony Robinson

The incredible revelations about Cummings and his 500-mile circular lockdown tours of County Durham filled the newspapers and the twittersphere all weekend.  The story is symptomatic of Cummings’ arrogance – as well as his coronavirus. He had breached the lockdown rules we learned, not once but twice. More than that, during one apparent breach he […]

The brutal truth about farming standards

Yorkshire Bylines

Joe Stanley is a farmer from the East Midlands. He describes himself as a conservationist, columnist and advocate for sustainability in food, farming & the environment. In a Twitter thread using data from a briefing by the National Farmers’ Union, he outlines the differences between our own UK food standards and those in the USA, […]

Kuenssberg’s impartiality under fire

Anthony Robinson

The revelations yesterday about Dominic Cummings’ apparent breach of the lockdown rules, travelling 250 miles to his parents’ home in County Durham while experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus, has sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter about the impartiality of the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. She has long been seen by some as too […]

State of Happiness: a confident, clean break from Scandi noir

Séamus O’Hanlon

This Norwegian drama is tailor-made for English-speaking audiences; a small-town setting that overnight is invaded by alluring American strangers, stuffy legislators and big oil itself, all looking for the next boom. The series starts with a charismatic Texan, arrogantly determined that there is still plenty of oil off the Norwegian coast. Stavanger is a small […]

Primary schools are not yet safe places for our children

Dr Pam Jarvis

On 20 May, ITV news reported that four out of five local authorities in West Yorkshire have refused to enforce the reopening of schools in their area, and are instead leaving the decision to Head Teachers, who are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of children in their care. Various concerns have been raised […]

Where’s Boris with the hurty knee, Hecate?

Hecate

It’s not just that something stinks. It’s that consensus is growing that, as @DerekJames150 puts it, “Corruption in the UK is alive and well and living at 10 Downing Street!” Commentators around the world boldly remark on what they see as something rotten at the heart of British government. Twitter juxtaposed Trump, Putin, Johnson and […]

An exhausted government, an exhausted civil service

Dr Stella Perrott

As the government lumbers heavily towards its third ‘no-deal’ Brexit deadline, it has strongly asserted that there will be no extension to the transition period. Stella Perrott considers the government’s capacity to deliver a managed Brexit over the coming weeks in the light of the findings of the recent publication of the Institute for Government […]

Barnier sinks Johnson’s negotiating strategy

Anthony Robinson

Michel Barnier issued a sharp response to the letter sent by UK chief negotiator David Frost on Tuesday with a missive of his own on Wednesday. It is as if the negotiations have burst out into the public realm with Britain abandoning face-to-face talks to try and convince us that the EU is just being […]

NHS at risk from new Trade Bill

Brian Batson

Whilst we are all preoccupied, rightly, with trying to survive the coronavirus pandemic the government is forging ahead with its Brexit agenda. Today, Wednesday 20 May, a Trade Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. This Bill is paving legislation for the government to open trade negotiations with other countries, principally […]

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