Boris Johnson insists vaccine manufacturers will supply UK amid pressure from EU to divert doses
Boris Johnson’s spokesman has repeatedly refused to rule out diverting doses of the coronavirus vaccine to the continent, as the row over EU supplies escalates.
Britain and the EU stand on the brink of a vicious vaccine war after Brussels demanded the diversion of jabs produced in the UK. Keir Starmer denied Labour suggested signing up to the EU’s procurement scheme, accusing Mr Johnson of making “false” claims.
Meanwhile, farmers have revealed that more than 100,000 surplus pigs are “stranded” on farms across the UK because of Brexit bureaucracy. The National Pig Association (NPA) has demanded an urgent meeting with the government about an export slump caused by red tape complexities.
It comes as Boris Johnson’s government has announced it has scrapped its controversial post-Brexit review of employment rights. Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he did not wish to “water down” workers’ protections.
Voters not concerned about independence referendum, claims Johnson
Scottish voters are not concerned about a referendum on independence, prime minister Boris Johnson has claimed.
His comments come despite a host of recent polls showing that a majority of people in Scotland are now in favour of breaking away from the UK.
Mr Johnson said people were more concerned about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as he attacked the SNP’s record in government.
“I think jobs, the educational performance of the Scottish national government I don’t believe has been brilliant, their performance on fighting crime, on drugs – those are the things that I think people need to focus on,” the PM told reporters today on a trip north of the border to promote the union.
“But, above all, on fighting this pandemic and coming back more strongly together.
He added: “I have to say I think endless talk about a referendum, without any clear description of what the constitutional situation would be after that referendum, is completely irrelevant now to the concerns of most people who, I think, want us to beat this pandemic and come through it strongly together.”
Matt Mathers28 January 2021 16:19
Scottish finance secretary announces budget to aid coronavirus recovery
Scotland’s finance secretary has said her budget plans will help the economy recover from the impacts of the coronavirus crisis, while describing Brexit as a “wrecking ball”.
Outlining her draft spending plans in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Kate Forbes said the pandemic had “shaken our society and economy to their core”.
Describing Brexit as a “wrecking ball”, she added: “Today’s budget will help to bring much-needed support and stability, to ensure our economy recovers and we protect those who have been hit the hardest.”
Ms Forbes announced £1.1 billion of support for jobs and skills and £16 billion for health, as well as a further £869 million for tackling coronavirus – including funding for the vaccination and test and trace programmes.
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 16:03
PM says Brexit will benefit fishing industry in ‘medium to long term’
Boris Johnson has defended the impact of his Brexit trade deal on the fishing industry, saying it would be “very beneficial” in the medium to long term.
The prime minister was asked by reporters during his visit to Scotland whether he would meet with dissatisfied fishermen, to which he replied: “I’m always happy to meet representatives of any section of industry in this country and to explain why I think we’ve done the right thing with Brexit.
He continued: “Of course, there are teething problems in lots of areas – that’s inevitable because there is a big change. We told people there was a big change coming and where people have had problems through no fault of their own, there is a £23 million fund to help them through it.
“Be in no doubt that over the medium term, and much more over the long term, the changes are very beneficial for Scottish fishing – a big increase in North Sea cod, in North Sea haddock, in just the next few years, a 25 per cent increase in overall quota in just the next few years.”
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 15:47
Scottish minister claims government ended Erasmus because it was ‘too European’
The UK government broke off any chance of continuing the Erasmus student exchange scheme because it was “too European”, a Scottish minister has claimed.
The UK’s involvement in the education programme came to an end due to Brexit, but Scotland and Wales are continuing to push for access to it. The government has announced a scheme to replace it, named after famed mathematician Alan Turing.
Scotland’s further and higher education minister Richard Lochhead said that although the UK government’s “official line” is that the scheme is “not value for money”, he remains “suspicious that the UK government felt that the Erasmus scheme was symbolic of close ties with Europe”.
Mr Lochhead claimed the UK government position was to continue with Erasmus participation “up until the last moment”.
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 15:29
Labour MP warns about dangers of appeasement
Labour MP Catherine McKinnell has warned about the dangers of failing to tackle prejudice and hatred.
The MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North said: “Just three weeks ago, a group of thugs stormed the heart of US democracy. Amongst their number was a man wearing a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ t-shirt and others wearing deeply offensive and disturbing emblazoned shirts.
“This didn’t come out of nowhere. Too many politicians failed to take a stand for freedom, tolerance and the rule of law over the last few years.”
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 15:15
Nicola Sturgeon promises to tackle transphobia in SNP
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to deal with the issue of transphobia within her party if it exists, insisting she takes on “bigotry” in every form.
Ms Sturgeon was asked during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday whether her government has broken its promises to transgender and nonbinary people.
It came after she tweeted a video message on the issue, following reports of significant numbers of people leaving the party because they do not consider it to be a safe and tolerant place for trans people.
She said she has “a responsibility to tackle transphobia if it exists in my own party… a duty as First Minister to make sure that the Scottish government enhances and protects the rights of trans people” while adding that “it is something all of us have a duty to speak out on”.
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 15:02
Jacob Rees-Mogg calls Nicola Sturgeon ‘Moanalot’ by over criticism of PM’s visit
Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘Moanalot’ by Jacob Rees-Mogg over criticism of PM’s visit north
Clea Skopeliti28 January 2021 14:50
Johnson’s trip to Scotland won’t save the union, but at least he’s trying
Nicola Sturgeon can do no wrong in the eyes of Scottish public opinion, and the PM’s unpopularity in Scotland is one of the biggest problems for those of us who want to keep our country together. But would be worse for the unionist cause if Johnson didn’t care, writes John Rentoul:
Jane Dalton28 January 2021 14:47
‘Prioritise vaccines for teachers’
We want to see children back in school as soon as possible, and the half-term break in two weeks’ time provides the ideal opportunity to vaccinate teachers and school support staff, alongside the safety measures the government is putting in place in our classrooms, as well as mass testing, says deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, writing for The Independent:
Jane Dalton28 January 2021 14:36
Government axes ‘sexist’ advert
The government has dropped a coronavirus advert urging the nation to “stay home and save lives” which was accompanied by illustrations of women doing household chores following a major backlash. Maya Oppenheim reports:
Jane Dalton28 January 2021 14:17