Section: UK

Coronavirus rapid inquiry takes evidence from experts and the public

Professor Juliet Lodge

Is it too kind to describe the government’s handling of the covid crisis as a dog’s dinner? It’s certainly a mess for all manner of reasons: incompetence, over-centralisation, fragmentation of procurement, ignoring public health experts and labs, chaotic and ad hoc reactions, inefficiency, dogma, spin and outsourcing testing to a myriad of private companies. On […]

What happens when ‘the chaps’ are no longer ‘good’?

John Cole

Radio 4 has a most amusing comedy programme: ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. In this, four panellists take it in turns each to spin an amusing yarn that is all lies – except for five truths hidden in the tissue of falsehood. Boris Johnson is clearly a fan of programme and has managed to turn prime minister’s […]

Yeh but, no but let’s be absolutely clear about quarantine

Professor Juliet Lodge
stressed black male entrepreneur working on laptop in park

You know something’s rotten in the state of Denmark when a Lord gets the same money for ‘signing in’ once, as a single person gets in a month on universal credit. In four days, not counting their Lordships’ allowances, their sign-in takes nearly £1m from the public purse, which is filled by anyone paying tax. […]

The government is in danger of being overwhelmed by Brexit

Anthony Robinson

As we enter the final stretch with just five months to go before the transition period ends, and with a second wave of coronavirus already threatening Europe, there are growing signs that serious Brexit problems are beginning to overwhelm the government. The workload is increasing as the time available to complete it is decreasing and […]

“The GMO lobbyist will see you now, minister”

Martin Brooks

The UK is under immense pressure to sign up to US demands on the regulations applying to GMO (genetically modified organisms), as part of the US-UK trade deal. One look at the USA’s commercial commitment to GMO tells you why. GMO technology, often developed by US companies, is embedded in US farming practices and hence […]

Will planning rules derail the Brexit express?

Anthony Robinson

Rachel Reeves, the shadow cabinet secretary, visited the MOJO site close to junction 10A of the M20 at Ashford in Kent recently with the BBC also reporting that construction “began earlier this month” on a “giant lorry park” for Brexit-related customs purposes without local people being consulted. The MP for Leeds West has now written to Michael Gove asking […]

The fat of the land

Andrew Leach

“Eat Out to Help Out”, the government says. A phrase that comes oven-ready with a side order of “Ew”. In essence, it’s a scheme whereby Westminster will pay fifty per cent of the cost of your meal out up to a £10 contribution. So a £20 surf ‘n’ turf will come in at a measly […]

New UK Magnitsky-style human rights sanction regime

Marc Limon and Louis Mason

An important step forward for accountability On 6 July the UK became the latest country to join the growing ‘Magnitsky momentum’ by passing the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, allowing the government to sanction alleged perpetrators of the gravest forms of human rights violations. Introducing the regulations in parliament, the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, […]

PC Andrew Harper’s killers sentenced for manslaughter

Linda Sage

A dedicated police officer had officially finished his long shift four hours before and was on the M4 due to go home, when a 999 call came in. Police constables Andrew Harper and Andrew Shaw responded to the call, with a catastrophic outcome. PC Andrew Harper, who was only 28 years old, was killed by […]

The doctor will thin you now: government announces new obesity strategy

Annabelle Levins
food dinner lunch unhealthy

On 27 July, the government announced a new strategy to tackle obesity in Britain, the so-called “fat man of Europe”. Measures include the introduction of calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, a 9pm watershed on junk-food advertising and a ban on ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deals on foods high in fat and sugar. The new plan has […]

Public health begins at home

George Baker

How often have you left a public loo and thought, “Yuk! That person didn’t wash their hands after using the loo and is now touching their burger”, or worse, picking up food and handing it to children?  And then there are the adults and kids who wipe their noses on their bare hands, touch the […]

Counting on the shock of the new

Andrew Leach

Being in government is like playing with Lego. Or at least it seems to be, judging by the number of times things are taken apart before being triumphantly put back together again. Allied to which is a collective amnesia. It appears that when you’ve been in power for over a decade, it’s fine to forget […]

Decade of dissonance

Javed Bashir

Part one of a three part series on social change The world is different, especially since Covid-19 emerged and a meagre four months ago the global pandemic triggered a lockdown of the UK economy. But the UK has been different since 2010; we have lived through a decade of dissonance and could now face a […]

EU banking watchdog tells British banks: Check, Change and Come – to Europe

Anthony Robinson

As the British government launches its advertising campaign to help businesses and individuals prepare for the end of the transition period, with the inevitable three-word slogan “Check – Change – Go”, the European Banking Authority (EBA) had a message of its own to Britain’s financial institutions. In a lengthy and uncompromising statement published yesterday on its […]

The truth: bending it like Boris

Anthony Robinson

Johnson has been rapped over the knuckles by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) for repeatedly quoting erroneous and misleading figures on child poverty. The OSR is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, and they were responding to a complaint from the End Child Poverty Coalition (ECPC). The story is all over […]

Masking the communication

Daphne Franks
crop man putting medical mask on face of ethnic child

When I explain that my job is teaching student doctors and other healthcare professionals to learn how to communicate with patients, there’s one response I often receive: “But surely that’s just common sense?” Frequently, and without awareness of any apparent contradiction, they immediately follow up the “common sense” remark with an anecdote about when some […]

Select committee criticises coronavirus failures in social care

Dr Stella Perrott
health workers wearing face mask

The government’s “slow, inconsistent and negligent approach” to social care during the pandemic was today (29 July) heavily criticised by the commons public accounts committee. The committee is a cross party group with a government majority of members. The report, Readying the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 peak, notes that the NHS managed […]

Covid-19: early reopening worse than lockdown

Amanda Robinson
bank notes bills cash commerce

It is clear that the government’s preparations for a pandemic were lacking, despite Exercise Cygnus in 2016 which reviewed the UK’s preparedness by simulating a flu outbreak and contained 26 recommendations. It is alleged that the Cygnus report was buried “for fear workers would be alerted to the immense dangers posed by a pandemic”. The […]

Government to create “single source of truth” for border data

Anthony Robinson

Just a week after publishing the Border Operating Model describing how Britain’s borders will operate from 1 January next year, we learn it’s really only a stop-gap measure after the government launched a consultation on creating “the world’s most effective border” in the next five years. Not content with erecting conventional barriers to trade with […]

Only words

Dr Pam Jarvis

In Alice Through the Looking Glass, the child protagonist Alice is introduced to the ways the adult world uses words, by her irascible antagonist, Humpty Dumpty: ‘When I use a word’, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’  ‘The question is,’ said […]

BREAKING

Reuters: “Barnier confident Brexit deal with Britain possible”

Anthony Robinson

Reuters reported within the last half hour that sources in Brussels are claiming Michel Barnier, in a closed-door meeting with national envoys this morning, “expressed confidence” that a deal between the UK and the EU can be agreed. Barnier’s comments are said to be in sharp contrast to the most recent downbeat assessments that he […]

Undermining the rule of law: Buckland, Begum and my son

Liz Webster

I was relieved to hear the recent court of appeal ruling that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return home to appeal the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship. The fact that she has to fight to regain her citizenship is ludicrous and potentially dangerous. If she fails, the repercussions will be extensive […]

We must stand up for democracy against Boris Johnson’s ‘dictatorship’

William Wallace

Serious people on all sides of politics now worry about the way Boris Johnson is undermining the British constitution. Decisions have been centralised in No. 10 Downing Street, with a team of unelected advisers under Dominic Cummings pushing the Cabinet to one side. They expect the Commons to do what they tell it, relying on obedience from […]

The Irish Sea border: Brexit’s own iceberg

Anthony Robinson

Northern Ireland was barely mentioned during the referendum, but since 2016 it has consistently proved the most insoluble problem. Theresa May’s plan to resolve it by keeping the whole United Kingdom in the customs union eventually proved her undoing. Johnson’s answer, to erect a border down the Irish Sea, could soon be his. Northern Ireland […]

Failing? Blame someone else!

Richard Corbett

The Daily Telegraph carried a remarkable article yesterday claiming that the main obstacle to getting a post Brexit deal on trade (and other matters) with the EU is simply the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. Blaming a Frenchman always goes down well with parts of the British public, but lashing out at Barnier is facile. […]

The dubious “expert” driving the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy

Richard Sadler

We’ve all heard of Dominic Cummings – but what about Shanker Singham? This obscure industry lobbyist has penetrated the inner circles of the deregulatory, free-trade ideologues at the heart of government. Like Cummings, he is unelected and unaccountable. Yet he has developed close contacts with ministers from the prime minister down, and is playing a […]

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 […]

Scots welcome the “crime minister”

Hecate

Joy oh joy! The prime minister grabbed his rubber ring, stuffed his budgie smugglers into his pocket and flip-flopped around the room, packing his case ready for his hols. Briefly stopping to douse his joss sticks, slap on some self-tan and check the latest Tory sex scandals, he did a press-up to celebrate his success […]