Farming requires a huge number of skills and a vast amount of knowledge, all of which needs to be continually updated and revised as the environment – physical, legislative and market – changes. If you think about what the job description of ‘farmer’ involves, it runs the gamut from pharmacology to mechanical engineering, animal behaviour […]
The DHSC bypassed normal tendering processes to place a series of single-bidder contracts for PPE with a variety of suppliers, citing “genuine reasons for extreme urgency” caused by “unforeseeable” events …
The government’s management of coronavirus is an example of where a superforecaster would insist on not just one review at some time in the future when the final death toll after a second or third wave may be known, but ongoing reviews as the figures and new information emerge over the course of the pandemic.
Dad dancing to YMCA after a pint of wallop and a whiskey cider chaser at 6am to test-drive independence day had left the prime minister feeling decidedly razzled. It was all Jabber-the-Raab’s fault for sending their Uber to Soho’s Old Compton Street instead of Chequers. It was an easy mistake for someone so geographically challenged […]
After revealing two extraordinary £108m contracts placed by the government for personal protective equipment (PPE) with companies that have no apparent experience or history of supplying such items, Jolyon Maugham QC seems to have uncovered two more. Providing PPE is becoming the new Klondike and the scandal appears to be getting dangerously close to the […]
The contrast between what we were promised during the referendum and what the government is doing now couldn’t be starker. In the midst of a pandemic the UK government refuses to allow negotiators the time to arrange the ambitious and comprehensive trade deal we were promised. For its part, the EU has set out comprehensively […]
The Northern Ireland protocol is like a ship drifting slowly & silently onto the rocks while the passengers & crew are engaged in a weird meta-physical debate among themselves about what the vessel actually means in reality
The pandemic and lockdown have exacerbated mental health risks, especially for men. The lack of social possibilities during lockdown have made it easier to withdraw, and isolation can be the result
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. […]
The message to those in similar positions of influence remains simple. Be the change you want to be. Use you influence, move the British Museum into the twenty-first century. By changing the dialogue and presenting British history from the viewpoint of the colonised as well as the colonisers, you could make it an even more interesting place to visit.
Pub-loving entrepreneurs Tim Joyce and Justin Smith have launched a new app called Play It Safe, to help businesses keep their customers safe as they open up after lockdown. The app can be used by any business looking to quickly and simply trace visitors – pubs, restaurants, campsites, shops, museums, galleries, and many more. But […]
The government has steadfastly refused to inform, consult, plan or coordinate with local authorities and regional health structures in dealing with Covid-19. Instead, ministers have worked with their pals in the private sector, putting ideology before the nation’s interests.
Having escaped, down but not out, from another prime minister’s questions, Johnson breathed a sigh of relief and made a dive for the exit … If you’re out-gabbed by that “left-wing agitator”, you know your number’s up. Mark Sedwill had an uncanny knack for saying stuff the PM really didn’t want to hear. So did […]
We have not yet reached the specification phase, let alone issued tender documents or started detailed design work. It makes the government’s deadline (now set in stone) look extremely challenging.
Johnson continues to use the ‘whack-a-mole’ analogy to explain his strategy. It may explain where the government is going wrong. In that game the mole just keeps reappearing but in different holes.
Barnier sends uncompromising and blunt warning to London’s financial institutions – a stark ‘pack your bags’ message to start moving operations into a member state if firms want to continue to provide services inside the EU.
Most reasonable people are occasionally riddled with doubt. Questioning what you believe, changing your mind, and never being over certain or over confident are actually very positive behaviours. Particularly if you are trying to make objective decisions about how best to run a country. Boris Johnson seems riddled with certainty. He knows what the ‘good […]
As Leicester goes into lockdown, it’s a reminder of what a big week this is for Boris Johnson, culminating in so-called ‘super Saturday’ on 4 July when pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and restaurants reopen. It will come at the end of a week that will have seen summer holidays given the green light, after the government […]
The letter that Mark Francois sent to Michel Barnier on Friday (see below) looks like a spoof but turns out to be genuine – though it’s difficult to read and keep a straight face at the same time. He describes it as “a missive from a free country.” It was sent just four days before […]
On 28 June Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, delivered the Ditchley Foundation’s annual lecture entitled the “privilege of public service”. It generated considerably more interest than would normally be expected for a speech on civil service reform to a rather obscure think tank, as it followed accounts of Dominic Cummings’ determination to come down on […]
Boris Johnson was never going to extend the transition period, pandemic or no pandemic. It was never politically tenable to win an election on the back of ‘Get Brexit Done’ only to go back on his word six months later. An extension would be attacked as betrayal however it was dressed up, all the more […]
Last week’s virtual session of the future relationship select committee has sparked quite a lot of comment after it was revealed that Britain lacked a system or even a plan to handle trucks arriving at Dover. The amazing revelation came from Tim Reardon, head of EU exit at the port of Dover. He told Barry […]
An excess death toll of 66,000 is, of itself, sufficient reason to reflect on how the pandemic has been managed. The government says it will reflect but not yet and has made no commitment to how that reflection will happen. In the absence of any government commitment to an open, wide-ranging review, groups of scientists, […]
Margaret Thatcher, surely the embodiment of Conservatism, grew up above her father’s tobacconists and grocery shop. As prime minister, she continued to live above the shop: 10 Downing Street. Throughout her time in charge of the country she demonstrated an astonishing mastery of detail. She was not exactly a consensus politician – unlike say, John […]
In what can only be described as a bizarre reversal of leadership, Boris Johnson this week essentially called on the British people to set an example to his most senior adviser Dominic Cummings on how to properly observe government guidance. He told reporters that it was crucial we “get this right” and appealed to the […]
This was the week of the great cover-up that didn’t work. There weren’t just bats in Big Ben’s belfry but sloth-sized rats running amok in the Commons. Prime ministers’ questions had become just an ad break in a very British farce masquerading as democracy. The prime minister understood neither the concept nor the practice. Hit […]
And so, yet another Tory scandal hits the headlines, this time relating to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, who is alleged to have “insisted” a planning decision for a £1bn property development should be rushed through so a Conservative donor’s company could reduce costs by £45m. The donor, ex-Express owner and pornography promoter Richard Desmond, allegedly […]
Michel Barnier gave an interview yesterday to the European Policy Centre (EPC), a Brussels-based think tank, which has Herman Von Rompuy as its president. Some commentators seemed to think Barnier hinted at more flexibility on fishing so it may be that some progress is being made on the substantive matters. The whole 55 minute interview […]
A group called ‘Save British Farming’ – representing farmers, consumers and members of the food production industry – is calling on farmers and supporters of upholding food standards to drive their tractors, trucks and cars to Westminster on 8 July, to protest the agriculture bill that is currently going through parliament. The group says, “The […]
Charities have been at the forefront of supporting those most marginalised and isolated during the Covid-19 crisis. We now urgently need clarity from the government about what support and information it will provide as the end of the transition period inches closer. The economic impact of the pandemic cannot be understated. The Office for National […]