London: Go to work, work at home, now go to work, now work at home, eat out to help out but only in groups of six and leave pubs/restaurants by 10pm or risk up to a £10,000 fine, confused, so is the British public. Folks have to stay alert to keep up with the latest restrictions now that policy seems to be made up on the hoof.
With Covid infections rising a COBR meeting was called, it is reported that Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, had not met Johnson since the month of May. This is also reported for Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. If this is the case Conservative lack of engagement and arrogant pomposity with other leaders will likely be leveraged by the Scottish National Party and Labour communities.
The Coronavirus emergency powers that the government introduced in March are due back in parliament for a vote by MPs, to prolong or reject their existence. These temporary powers gave the government unusual authority to instruct police, immigration officials and public health departments to quarantine anyone, including with help from the army. The government can prohibit events and restrict access to ports/offices/retail/schools/leisure, issue urgent warrants that could intercept communications, and store bio-metric data when necessary for national security, as reported last week and even insist on identity cards for everyone. All this with no oversight, at the time democratically minded backbenchers added an amendment before the Bill was passed that afforded them a review every six months. Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, has rustled together Tories who would prefer a debate on any new restrictions or measures of national importance being introduced rather than imposed. Steve Baker MP has attached a separate amendment to omit regulations about prosecutions against potentially infectious people. Now it is up to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker to decide whether to allow the Brady motion or just to allow a binary vote on the emergency powers. Either way the pressure is on the government to involve MPs.
The Prime Minister’s Russian headline nightmares are relentless, first the delayed then redacted Russian Report, then the Russian superyacht moored off the coast of Scotland where he was on a family holiday, old reports of when Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary he went unaccompanied to a party at Russian Evgeny Lebedev’s castello in Tuscany, the peerage to a Russian media tycoon- the same Evgeny Lebedev, recent rumours circulating of a romantic liaison with a Russian violinist, tennis games bought by a Russian lady and British Citizen who donated huge sums to the Tory party and a recent Panorama programme about money laundering in London. So many of the so-called scandals are Russian but who knows if this convenient for anyone. The peerage commentators who claimed that the Lebedev peerage would result in good press from The Independent and The Evening Standard could not have been more wrong, both publications and a good number of Johnsons new peers are continuously finding with fault with the government.
China sceptics in UK were amazed to see Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State in charge of COP26 tweet appreciation to Xi Jinping about China reaching carbon neutrality by 2060; Sharma is also Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As this was on the same day as the US were reporting about China’s Tibetan labour camps, there were suggestions that Sharma’s appreciation might alienate South Asian countries and the US. Another alienating event as far as India is concerned was the launch of the conservative friends of Kashmir group, consisting of several Conservative MPs whose purpose is to gain support for self-determination for Kashmir. Conservative Campaign Headquarters have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian this is not a group organised by The Conservative Party.
The passing of the Internal Market Bill points to a Brexit deal in process with the EU which will be presented as a tremendous victory over the technocratic era.