Conservatives rebel

The COVID Diaries – 223 27th November

A row is raging among Tory back bench MPs about the data underlying the decision-making that led to 99% of England’s population being placed in the top two tiers, with strict limits on socialising.

The Prime Minister has promised an analysis of the impact of the tiers approach before MPs vote next Tuesday’s vote on the revised rules and has also committed to reviewing the tiers on 16 December. He has also made it clear that he has no intention to change the system.

Tough controls ahead

The COVID Diaries – 222 26th November

Nearly everyone in England will be in higher tiers with tougher controls when the second lockdown ends on December 2nd. Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly face the lightest tier 1 restrictions.

More than half of the population will enter tier 2 and just over 40% will be subject to the toughest tier 3 controls.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a potential for a third lockdown in the new year if curbs on mixing were eased now.

“Systemic Economic Crisis”

The COVID Diaries – 221 25th November

A confidential briefing for the Cabinet Office warns of the possibility of a “systemic economic crisis” at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The briefing reportedly warns officials of the increased likelihood of major difficulties in the early months of 2021 – regardless of whether a UK-EU trade deal is struck between the UK and the European Union.  

Of particular concern is the health and are sector: 

“The pandemic has and will continue to limit the capacity of the health and care sector to prepare for and respond to the end of the transition period,” the document stated.  

Preparations for President Biden

The COVID Diaries – 220 24th November

With Michigan and Pennsylvania certifying Joe Biden’s win in their states, following the failure of Donald Trump’s attempts in court to stop them, preparations in the US federal government have at last begun to support President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.

President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that he is not giving up his fight to overturn the election results, but there seems no way in which he can effectively challenge Biden’s convincing victory. 

It seems that Trump, who has not formally conceded to Biden, will continue to sow doubt about the vote, despite his own administration’s assessment that it was conducted without widespread fraud, misconduct or interference.

Covid Winter Plan

The COVID Diaries – 219 23rd November

Boris Johnson has announced a “Covid Winter Plan” to parliament which sets out ‘tougher’ tiered restrictions for England. Once the four-week national lock down ends on 2nd December, areas will be placed into three tiers again.

Rules in many areas will be tougher than before the lockdown with tough rules on pubs and restaurants, but will allow shops and gyms to reopen.

Some Christmas cheer?

The COVID Diaries – 218 22nd November

It is reported that limited household mixing will be allowed over Christmas, allowing families to get together and form bubbles with a small number of friends and relatives.

The Cabinet Office has said the objective was agreed on after talks with the devolved administrations over the weekend and that Boris Johnson will set out an outline of the plans on Monday.

The lockdown in England will end on 2 December, with the country reverting to a “strengthened” three-tier system, similar to the one in place before the lockdown.

Trump tries another tactic

The COVID Diaries – 217 21st November

Donald Trump’s latest attempt to block confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory has seen Republican officials write to Michigan’s electoral board to request a two-week adjournment, rather than certify the election results on Monday.

In response, the Michigan Department of State has said that delays and audits are not permitted by law.

The department has called Trump and local Republicans’ claims of widespread fraud “wholly meritless”.

Brexit deal close?

The COVID Diaries – 216 20th November

European Union ambassadors have been told that a trade and security agreement with Britain is close to being finalised but the risk remains there will be no deal.

A senior official at the European commission has said that the majority of the 11 key negotiation issues now had “joint legal texts with fewer and fewer outstanding points”.

Trump tries to sabotage Michigan vote

The COVID Diaries – 215 19th November

Donald Trump appears to be mounting an all-out assault on the election result in Michigan in what seems to be an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 150,000 votes victory in the state.

Trump has been putting pressure on Republican state lawmakers to try and hijack the Michigan electoral college by putting forward alternative slates of electors to compete with those selected by Michigan’s voters.

There is no indication that Trump’s desperate strategy has any remote chance of success.

Pathetic Trump fires cybersecurity boss

The COVID Diaries – 214 18th November

Late on Tuesday, Donald Trump announced in a tweet that he was firing the official in charge of election security who had dismissed his claims of widespread voter fraud.

A senior Democrat described Trump’s firing of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director, Christopher Krebs, as “pathetic and predictable from a president who views truth as his enemy”.

Officials have declared that the presidential election was the most secure US election ever.