London: Matt Hancock applauded the advent of a BioNTech vaccine from the front bench, claiming the first of 10 million doses could be available before Christmas, if the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approves its use. Hancock banged on about how difficult the distribution logistics would be, it was almost a self-congratulatory lecture, Hancock’s habit of talking down to his audience has given the impression that he has enjoyed the power and glory that Covid-19 has afforded him too much.
Westminster Lockdown sceptics have launched the Covid Research Group led by MPs Mark Harper and Steve Baker, to hold the government to account on publishing a cost-benefit analysis of regional restrictions, to expand the current monopoly of scientific advice and introduce competitive opinions, publish data on a timely basis, and to improve the reach and scope of the NHS Test and Trace systems.
As predicted the House of Lords voted overwhelmingly to remove the two clauses in the Internal Market Bill that affected the Northern Ireland Protocol and overrode parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, more changes are expected week commencing November 16. The Lords Constitution Committee found that the IMB violates the rule of law and threatens to undermine devolution arrangements, in that it takes an unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to reconciling the demands of free trade within the UK and the need to respect the role and responsibilities of devolved institutions. The Committee’s report found that the Bill is unprecedented in setting out explicitly to break international law, and that this both undermines domestic law and is contrary to the rule of law. This defeat puts the onus on the Government to agree a deal with the EU and to resolve the HMRC complexities in trading goods between England and Northern Ireland over the Irish Sea, with no Customs Declaration Service in and out of Northern Ireland in reach or sight. The Brexit Trade talks will extent past the deadline of November 13th as 600 pages of legal text are proving a challenge for negotiators to agree.
On Armistice Day, Keir Starmer proved to be a different sort of opposition , this week he cornered the Prime Minister on the government contribution of £6million to armed forces charities who, like all charities, have had difficulties in fund raising during the pandemic. Starmer claimed this was not enough to support veterans and their families.
Shenanigans in No10 escalated this week, with the departure of Lee Cain the PM’s Communications Director, he may have been set the become Chief of Staff but it was not to be, in this instance it was reported Carrie Symonds, Johnson fiancée, had the final word. Many names have been associated with what has become an ideological war of attrition between the Cummings set and the rest. The only name missing from the imbroglio is Michael’s Gove’s, who many believe is the Svengali behind all events.