Keir Starmer drops Labour pledge to fight for return to EU free movement
The Labour leader will use a speech to tell the British people they “can build a country worthy of the sacrifices” made during the pandemic in the same way a Labour administration “built the welfare state from the rubble of war” after 1945.
Sir Keir will accuse Boris Johnson’s government of having the “wrong priorities for Britain” as he lays out the battle lines for the 2024 election.
He is set to call for families to be “put first” during the latest lockdown, demanding ministers protect epidemic-hit households budgets from council tax hikes and cuts to Universal Credit. Sir Keir will also press for key workers, such as teachers, the armed forces and care workers, to be given pay rises.
Lockdown compliance has dipped as people ‘fed up’ of restrictions, Deputy Chief Constable says
Paul Netherton, Deputy Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, said people are getting “fed up” of lockdown restrictions and compliance from the public has dipped.
“What’s happening is people are beginning to flout the rules, they are beginning to think ‘how can I get away with the rules?’,” he told BBC Breakfast.
When asked whether it was harder to get people to comply with rules in the current lockdown compared to previous ones, he said: “Yes, I think people are beginning to get fed up with it.
“I can understand that but we have to be firm, we have to save lives, we have to make sure people are keeping apart, isolating and staying at home.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 10:29
National lockdown needs to be reviewed, Derbyshire PCC says
Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said the current national lockdown in England needed to be reviewed, stating there was much more traffic and activity than in the previous lockdown in March.
When asked on BBC Breakfast if police being “overzealous” could put people off complying with coronavirus restrictions, Hardyal Dhindsa said: “It could be.
“But, in the main, when police are engaging with the public, the public are very compliant and are following guidance.
“If you think of the hundreds and thousands of calls to police on Covid-19, the number of fixed penalty notices given out are small.
“The problem is how are the lockdown rules and regulations in place, and the review of them is something that needs to be looked at.
“This lockdown is not the same as the lockdown that happened in March.
“If you look at traffic on our roads it’s still quite high, because people are still going to work.
“The activity on your roads and in our spaces is much more than the lockdown we had in March.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 10:14
UK needs to ‘fight its way to the table’ with Joe Biden, study suggests
The UK will have to “fight its way to the table” with US-president elect Joe Biden, according to a study.
A research paper by Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, has set out how a “global Britain” can strike a new path post-Brexit and how the government can woo incoming administration figures in Washington.
The paper, titled Global Britain, global broker: A blueprint for the UK’s future international role, states: “The incoming administration of Joe Biden will seek to heal America’s relations with allies in Europe and Asia.
“But Brexit Britain will have to fight its way to the table on many of the most important trans-Atlantic issues, with the EU now the US’s main counterpart in areas such as China relations and digital taxation.”
The report suggests three areas ripe for Britain to tackle as a global broker in 2021, given the imminent arrival of the Biden administration.
It says: “First, the UK can leverage its world-leading commitments to carbon emissions reduction alongside its co-chairmanship of Cop26 to secure stronger national commitments on climate change from the US and China, the world’s two largest emitters.
“Second, the UK can leverage its strong position in Nato alongside a more trans-Atlanticist Biden administration to broker closer working relations between Nato and the EU, especially on cybersecurity and protecting space assets, critical new priorities for the safety of European democracies.
“Third, the UK can use its presidency of the G7 in 2021 to start making this anachronistic grouping more inclusive.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 10:02
The chancellor. Rishi Sunak, will give an economic update to the House of Commons this afternoon, according to the Labour whips’ office.
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 09:48
More think Johnson should resign than think he should continue as PM, poll finds
A higher percentage of people think Boris Johnson should resign as prime minister than think he should continue, a poll has found.
My colleague Kate Ng has more details:
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 09:37
Vaccines minister unable to say current ‘tough’ lockdown restrictions are sufficient
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was unable to assure that the current “tough” lockdown restrictions are sufficient and raised concerns of people not sticking to the rules in supermarkets or when exercising outside.
Pressed on whether the current restrictions are enough, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want to use tougher measures, the lockdown is tough, schools are shut, but it is important to remember this virus loves social interactions.
“We’re reviewing all the restrictions, but these are pretty tough at the moment. I am worried about supermarkets and people actually wearing masks and following the one-way system, and making sure when it’s at capacity they wait outside the supermarket.
“I’m worried about some of the pictures I’ve seen of social interactions in parks, if you have to exercise you can go out for exercise only.”
In a separate interview, Mr Zahawi urged the public to follow the rules and wear masks and observe one-way systems in supermarkets.
He told Sky News: “We are concerned that, for example, in supermarkets, we need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system rule, and when they are at capacity to operate safely for people to wait outside supermarkets.
“We don’t want to go any tougher because this is a pretty tough lockdown, but what we need is people to behave as if they’ve got the virus so we can bring this virus under control whilst we vaccinate.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 09:25
Business output falls to record low
The UK’s business output has fallen to its lowest level despite a raft of Government support measures, a new study suggests.
Advisory firm BDO LLP said its research indicated a return to the tier system of restrictions last month failed to significantly increase business output.
A slow but steady trickle of job losses continued at the end of last year, with the latest lockdown likely to place further pressure on employment, said the report.
Kaley Crossthwaite of BDO LLP, said: “These figures reinforce just how stark the economic impact of the pandemic has been.
“As we enter a third national lockdown, crippling challenges will continue to plague businesses in the weeks and months ahead.
“Successful and rapid rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will be the single biggest driver of business recovery.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 09:12
Next few weeks will be ‘worst of the pandemic’ for NHS, Whitty warns
England’s chief medical officer has warned the new few weeks will be the “worst weeks of the pandemic” for the NHS.
Professor Chris Whitty told BBC Breakfast: “The peak we had back in April last year, we had about 18,000 people in the NHS. We currently, as of yesterday, have over 30,000 people in the NHS.
“A week ago, all the four chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said: ‘This is going to be a significant crisis for the NHS unless we take evasive action’.
“This new variant is really pushing things in a way that the old variant – which was already very bad – was not able to.
“So, we have a very significant problem … this is a serious problem and it is rising in every part of England.
“The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS.”
Prof Whitty suggested that measures could be needed until “some time in the spring” to stem the spread of the virus.
“We’ve got to make this sustainable because we got to be able to maintain this for several more weeks now.
“We’re really going to have to do a significant action for all of us for several more weeks until probably some time in the spring for very much of what we have to do.
“So, we do obviously need to be able to do essential work which they can’t do from home. We fully accept that that’s necessary to keep society going because you’ve got to be able to do it over a period of time.
“So, the three things that people can leave home for are essential work where they can’t do it from home, when they are doing exercise – which is very important for people’s physical health, their mental health – and for essential things like shopping or medical intervention.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 08:59
UK must use NHS creation, WW2 recovery as inspiration post-pandemic, Starmer says
Sir Keir Starmer will give a speech today in which he will lay out how Britain can rise up after the pandemic, using the creation of the NHS after the Second World War as inspiration.
The Labour leader will accuse Boris Johnson’s government of having the “wrong priorities for Britain”.
Sir Keir is expected to say: “This is the government that gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise but won’t pay our carers a decent wage.
“This is the government that wasted £22bn of taxpayers’ money on a testing system that doesn’t work but now won’t find the money to support families.
“And this is the government that sprayed money on private contracts that didn’t deliver but won’t give councils the support they need.
“That’s why I’m calling on the government today to put families first during this lockdown.”
The former director of public prosecutions will recall the example of the Clement Attlee administration, which took over from Conservative prime minister Winston Churchill in 1945 after the Second World War, as evidence of how the country could bounce back from the devastating impact of coronavirus.
“There will be hard months ahead, but the seasons will turn,” Sir Keir will predict.
“A dark winter will give way to a brighter spring and when it does, I know that together we can build a better future.
“We can build a country worthy of the sacrifices of the British people. Just as we did in 1945 when Attlee’s government built the welfare state from the rubble of war.”
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 08:40
Thom Yorke leads condemnation of ‘spineless’ decision to ‘reject’ EU offer to waive touring visas
Musicians and other members of the culture sector are reacting with fury over the news that the UK government “rejected” an offer from the EU to waive touring visas for British musicians.
Roisin O’Connor has the full story:
Samuel Osborne11 January 2021 08:25