UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures
The government has secured a “great deal” for the fishing industry in its post-Brexit trade agreement, Dominic Raab has insisted, rejecting the charge that ministers had “comprehensively betrayed” the industry amid an outpouring of anger and concern for its future.
Faced with warnings that the Scottish fishing industry is “drowning under red tape” and that generations-old firms could collapse in a matter of days, the foreign secretary claimed he was “not convinced” that the chaos was a result of Brexit.
It came as Sir Keir Starmer told The Independent that bereaved families “deserve to know” when an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin, with the UK’s death toll nearing 90,000. Meanwhile, ministers are to propose new laws to protect colonial-era monuments, following the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family hope jailed Briton could be freed in seven weeks
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has said she could be free to leave Iran on 7 March, when her sentence is due to expire, my colleague Tom Batchelor reports.
The British-Iranian woman has been under house arrest in Tehran since being moved from jail last spring. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has written to the foreign office asking for details about the end of her sentence, including what arrangements have been made for her to be given the correct papers to travel and how an ankle tag she wears will be removed, The Sunday Times reported.
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 11:48
Vaccinations being administered ‘four times faster’ than virus transmitting, NHS England boss says
Someone is currently admitted to hospital with coronavirus “every 30 seconds” in England, Sir Simon Stevens has said, however some 140 inoculations are being given out every minute.
The NHS England chief executive told Andrew Marr: “Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the inpatients in hospitals across England, that’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients.”
While hospitals now have 75 per cent more Covid patients than during the first peak, sir Simon said jabs are being administered “four times faster” than people are newly catching the virus.
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 11:32
Here’s the footage of the foreign secretary’s response to the chaos in the fishing industry. Dominic Raab said he is “not convinced” that firms are facing collapse as a result of the government’s Brexit deal.
Dominic Raab claims Brexit agreement is ‘great deal’ for fishermen
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full report here:
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 11:18
Raab offers argument against allowing UK courts to determine genocide in foreign nations
Ahead of a vote tomorrow on whether UK courts should be able to declare foreign nations guilty of genocide, Dominic Raab told the BBC: “As the son of a refugee from the Holocaust, I couldn’t be more moved and support the spirit of what is being proposed.”
“That’s why we took measures this week on Xinjiang and to prevent UK businesses supporting or benefitting from or feeding into the supply chains in Xinjiang and the awful reports we’ve got of forced labour – slave labour effectively, forced sterilisation, appalling human rights abuses.
“Whether or not it amounts to genocide has to be determined by a court, and of course the bar is being set incredibly high – frankly, we shouldn’t be engaged in free trade negotiations with countries abusing human rights well below the level of genocide.
“I think there is an issue, a challenge of practical, workable questions of whether the High Court in this country, as opposed to a criminal court, has the investigative capacity to actually determine facts on the ground.
“And I think there’s a second issue, which is really in relation to what we now know what’s going on in Xinjiang. The question is whether in relation to any country that engages in those human rights abuses, you engage in free trade negotiations.
He added: “We shouldn’t really be delegating the political question over who you engage in free trade negotiations to the courts. That’s something that MPs should hold the government to account about, and we absolutely embrace that.”
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 11:04
Government plans on making it harder to remove statues with links to racism and colonialism
The government plans on introducing new legal protections for statues linked to colonialism and racism, my colleague Zoe Tidman reports.
Writing in the The Sunday Telegraph, Robert Jenrick said decisions to take down heritage assets in England will need both planning permission and a consultation with local communities to go ahead
The communities secretary denounced recent attempts to “erase” pieces of “our national story”, which he said had been “done at the hand of the flash mob, or by the decree of a ‘cultural committee’ of town hall militants and woke worthies”.
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 10:50
Scottish fishermen eviscerate Boris Johnson’s ‘desperately poor’ Brexit deal in angry letter
Our business correspondent Ben Chapman has more on the outcry from the fishing industry over Boris Johnson’s “desperately poor” Brexit deal, which Dominic Raab insisted is “great” for fishermen.
With losses mounting by the day and many businesses fearing for their survival, the industry’s trade body has written a scathing letter to the prime minister.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Elspeth Macdonald accused Mr Johnson of misleading the public about the agreement and giving the industry “the worst of both worlds”, writing: “You and your government have spun a line about a 25 per cent uplift in quota for the UK, but you know this is not true, and your deal does not deliver that.”
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 10:36
Government has secured ‘great deal for the fishing industry’, Raab insists
Charged with “comprehensively betraying” the Scottish fishing industry by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Dominic Raab said: “I don’t accept that.
“I think this is a great deal for the fishing industry, both short-term and long-term. We get control over our fisheries back, full control as an independent coastal state. There’s an immediate 15 per cent uplift in terms of our access to fisheries for the UK sector in the first year. That rises to two thirds in the five-year transition period, then we have annual negotiations.
“And of course, the fishing industry is going to want to increase its capacity to take advantage of those increased stocks, and that’s why we’re putting in £100m to shore up, to strengthen the fishing industry right across the whole of the UK to make sure that this really important opportunity of leaving the EU can be properly grasped.”
And pressured on the fact that the Scottish fishing industry is “drowning under red tape”, with generations-old firms facing collapse in a matter of days as a result of the deal, Mr Raab said: “I’m not convinced that that’s the result of the agreement.
“The agreement we have struck … will create huge sustainable opportunities. Of course we’ve always said as we leave the transition period and with a deal, and even more if we haven’t had a deal, there will be some teething problems.”
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 10:01
‘Simply no reason’ why Universal Credit uplift should be scrapped in April, Labour says
Reported government plans to replace a £20-a-week benefit uplift with a £500 one-off payment would be a “terrible policy”, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary has said, adding that there is “simply no reason” why the increase should be scrapped in April.
Jonathan Reynolds told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: “First of all, if you go ahead with this cut you are reducing out-of-work support, unemployment benefits to their lowest real-terms level since 1992 at a time when unemployment is about to peak.
“The reason that a one-off payment is a bad policy is because whilst we’re talking about six million families being affected, those families will change throughout the year – some will go back into work, some will come out – we’ve had at times in the pandemic 200,000 new claimants coming onto the system in a single month.
“So, a one-off payment, a snap shot, completely fails to support those people. There is simply no reason that this cut should take place in April.”
Asked whether a Conservative rebellion could be expected on the matter on Monday, Mr Reynolds replied: “I can’t predict what Conservative colleagues will do, but, yes, people have been in touch – there has been some productive conversations.”
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 09:44
Ministers can hopefully start lifting restrictions in March, Raab says
The foreign secretary said that he hoped by the “early spring, hopefully by March”, ministers “will be in a position to make those decisions” about lifting some restrictions “gradually” so the country can “get back to normal”.
This “won’t be done in one big bang, but in a gradual, phased way”, likely “phasing through the tiered approach”, Dominic Raab said.
He said the things that put that “at risk” are the new variants and pressure on the NHS, as he urged people to follow the rules.
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 09:29
Government ‘should’ be able to deliver second vaccine doses within 12 weeks, Raab says
After failing to offer a guarantee that everyone in the UK would receive their second vaccine dose within 12 weeks of their first, Dominic Raab told Sky News: “We absolutely are aiming for that, we should be able to deliver it.
“And actually, when you look at our track record, we’re well out ahead of any other country in Europe, we’re a global leader frankly in rolling out a responsible vaccine, and I think we can be quietly confident.”
Dominic Raab refuses to guarantee second coronavirus jab
Andy Gregory17 January 2021 09:25