There seems to be a growing sense of unease among
Conservative backbenchers in parliament about the performance of the Prime
Minister, Boris Johnson. The Labour leader Keir Starmer, by accusing Johnson of
“winging it” and needing to “get a grip”, has successfully focussed on doubts
that the government is sufficiently competent.
It increasingly looks as though the government is
incapable of organising the proverbial p…up in a brewery, having bungled the
timing of the lockdown, the distribution of personal protective equipment, the
decision to stop community testing for the virus, the failure to produce a
track and trace app, and now a belated quarantine for people arriving in the UK.
The sense of a government not in control of events
has been exacerbated by Johnson’s sporadic absence and speculation he has yet
to fully recover from his very serious bout of Covid-19.
United States, Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign appears to be on the
move following a coronavirus-imposed lockdown.
Deliberately taking a positive
tone in contrast to President Donald Trump’s inflammatory and confrontational
approach to the racial unrest sweeping the US, Biden visited Philadelphia’s
historic city hall, where he gave a high-profile, widely televised address.
Biden pledged to push
for policing reforms, including a ban on the use of chokeholds like the one
that resulted in George Floyd’s death.
vice-president is trying to draw a sharp contrast with the current White House
occupant – both by making concrete proposals for how law enforcement should
operate and in suggesting that Trump’s tone and attitude is ill-suited for the
perilous moment in American history.
“I won’t traffic
in fear and division,” Biden said. “I won’t fan the flames of
Senior public health officials have warned that England is not prepared
to deal with any surge in infection and that the population’s resolve to
cooperate in conforming to the actions that limit transmission has been eroded.
Association of Directors of Public Health said new rules, including allowing
groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens, were “not
supported by the science” and that pictures of crowded beaches and beauty spots
over the weekend showed “the public is not keeping to social distancing as it
Saturday and Sunday, parks and seafronts were packed as people didn’t wait for
the lifting of restrictions on what has been dubbed “happy Monday”. Car
showrooms and outdoor markets will be reopened, millions of children will
return to primary schools and the most vulnerable “shielded” people will be
allowed out for the first time since lockdown began in March. But all of this
requires physical distancing to be maintained.
A new opinion poll by Opinium for the Observer newspaper shows a massive 81% of the population think Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings broke the rules. The poll also found that support for the Conservative party is collapsing, with the Tories now just four points ahead of Labour, having had a commanding lead of 26 points just two months ago.
More than two-thirds of voters – including more than half of
Conservatives – want Cummings thrown out of Downing Street for breaching
In the past week alone, the Tory lead has fallen by eight
points, the largest weekly drop the polling organisation has recorded since
For the last week the news has been dominated by the row over Cummings’ family trip with his wife and child during lockdown from London to Durham, and his refusal to apologise. The Opinium poll confirms the level of public anger. Some 68% think Cummings should resign. If he does not, 66% believe he should be sacked by Johnson.
At a time when it is
essential for everybody to maintain social distancing and continue to work
together to stop further COVID – 19 infections, the behaviour of Boris Johnson
and Dominic Cummings is deeply disturbing and is destroying trust in the
John Edmunds, a professor of infectious disease modelling at the
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a government adviser who
attends meetings of Sage, the scientific advisory group on emergencies, has voiced
unease over the decision to ease England’s lockdown while thousands of people a
day are still becoming infected.
Health Organisation statistics suggest our infection rate is the fifth highest
in the world. “We cannot relax our guard by very much at all,” said John
Edmunds. There are still 8,000 new infections every day in England without
counting those in hospitals and care homes, Edmunds said. “If you look at it
internationally, it’s a very high level of incidence.”
The UK’s contact tracing system was due to launch next
Monday, but was suddenly brought forward to this morning when it was then plunged
into chaos with many staff unable to access the system. The government has also
admitted that it will not be fully operational until the end of June.
The official reason for the early launch was to build
confidence among parents and teachers ahead of the reopening of primary schools
next Monday. However, many believe this was a desperate attempt by Boris
Johnson to push the Dominic Cummings scandal off the news headlines.
looks highly probable as there are several indications the whole thing has been
introduced in a rush before it is ready: as well as NHS staff not being able to
log into the computer system, doctors also said they had not been briefed and
learned the details only when they watched last night’s Downing Street press
The government’s attempts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
continue to be blown off course by the ongoing row about the conduct of the
Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings and his lockdown trip to County
Durham. Boris Johnson has been grilled
again about this, but speaking to senior Members of Parliament he ruled out an
inquiry and insisted it was time to “move on” from the row.
The Prime Minister also announced a major test and trace system which
aims to find people who come into close contact with those infected with the coronavirus.
It remains to be seen if the row about Cummings will undermine the new system.
in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on Donald
Trump’s re-election plans. His promise to maintain record-breaking economic
expansion and “keep America great” has been swept away by record unemployment
and the financial toll that the nationwide business-closure and
shelter-in-place orders have taken.
Having relied on his favourite
method of communication, Twitter, to bypass mainstream media he has now attacked
it after a “fact check” label was added to his tweets. Just a few hours after
Twitter’s move, the president began threatening “big action” against the
company (although it is unclear what power the president has to do anything).
Public anger about the Prime Minister’s chief advisor has continued unabated, with his explanation of the reason for his visit to Barnard Castle during the “stay at home” period of lock down being the subject of particular ridicule. Would you really test your eyesight by going for a drive with your son and wife in the car? Of course, it was Easter Sunday and it was his wife’s birthday and Barnard Castle is a beauty spot……..
Among the many comments circulating on social media, this one caught my eye:
In a bizarre press conference held in the Rose Garden at 10
Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings confirmed
he had driven over two hundred miles to Durham during the period when everybody
was being told to “stay at home.” He also confirmed that while “locked down” in
Durham he had driven 60 miles to and from Bishops Auckland on Easter Sunday with
his wife and child in the car “to test his eyesight.” Just how irresponsible is
The acting Lib Dem leader,
Ed Davey, tweeted: “Cummings’ statement confirms he broke the
guidelines. When millions kept to those rules.
PM must now terminate his contract – if he wants to regain any credibility in
leading the country on dealing with the coronavirus crisis.”