Sky Audio Britain 

On Boulton show: Boris’s lost mojo, Covid confusion

I took part in a podcast hosted by Adam Boulton on his Sky TV show, All Out Politics, with the editor of Ian Dunt and Sky’s political correspondent, Kate McCann. We discussed why the government seemed to be veering all over the place, changing its mind over one policy after another, producing confused messages over Covid-19 and with ministers making absurd gaffes. We also discussed the controversial merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, a move criticised by three former Prime Ministers, and whether Boris…

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Coronavirus Britain Coronavirus 

Bromides punctuated by gibberish. Bravo no more, Boris

Oh dear. Boris Johnson’s much trailed address to the nation this evening has merely deepened the impression that this is a prime minister who is not in control of events at all. In summary, he was saying there will be no substantive change to the lockdown, other than the tweak of permitting more outside activity, at least until June when perhaps some schools may open and July when perhaps some of the hospitality industry and other public places may open too. As I have previously observed, such caution is at…

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Coronavirus Britain Coronavirus 

“How has it come to this” indeed. But now Boris must keep his nerve

This week, when Boris Johnson made his first appearance at prime minister’s questions since he nearly died from Covid-19, the new Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, got the better of him. It wasn’t just that the absence of the usual braying mobs of backbenchers played to Starmer’s strengths as a calm, relentless and well-briefed advocate. It was that the questions he asked with such deadly and polite quietness were unanswerable. With the UK’s virus death toll then standing at more than 29,000, Starmer asked: “How has it come to this?”…

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Britain Coronavirus 

Ignore these siren calls to end the lockdown

Bravo Boris! Urged days ago to announce a speedy exit from lockdown, he has refused to be pushed. He’ll set out his plan next week amid signs that restrictions will be lifted only slowly. Although the virus now seems under control, the prime minister’s caution is understandable. The rate of decline is still too small to permit a speedy lifting of restrictions without risking a fresh spiral in the infection rate. Yet among people for whom damage to the economy outweighs all other considerations, there’s no acknowledgment of Johnson’s complex…

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Boris Britain Coronavirus 

Prevention paradox and dilemma denialism

Bravo, Boris. His statement this morning, on return from convalescing from his near-fatal encounter with Covid-19, took real courage. Under enormous pressure to lift the lockdown, he refused. His priority, he said, was to avoid a second surge in cases. He asked the public to be patient and not to undo the progress that had been made by social isolation. No-one can doubt the pressure he was under from his own party, including a number of big donors, who have been warning of the ever-more terrible damage to the economy…

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Heathrow Britain 

It’s ministers not judges who are skidding off the policy runway

The Court of Appeal’s ruling over Heathrow airport’s mooted third runway has reignited in some quarters the already highly combustible fury in Britain over judicial activism. The court has ruled that it was unlawful for the government to have given its approval to the construction of a third runway at Heathrow without taking into account its own obligations under the Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Cue outrage from commentators who believe that, without a third runway to expand Heathrow, the UK will gravely damage its…

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Sky Britain Videos 

Holocaust memorial and BoJo on The View

I took part this week on Sky TV’s The View, the politics show hosted by Adam Boulton. Because of Boris Johnson’s government reshuffle that morning, the show was broadcast from outside 10 Downing Street to capture all the comings and goings. That would have been great, except for the small fact that it was raining and freezing cold! We were also plagued by a man in the street who, during the Brexit agony, had constantly interfered with outside broadcasts by bellowing through a megaphone about stopping Brexit and now seemed…

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revolutionary Britain Culture wars 

Tory policies don’t look much like conservatism

When Boris Johnson delivered his effervescent encomium to free trade at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich conservatives were ecstatic. At last, they cried, a real Tory prime minister! Just one week later, a great wailing has gone up from the same quarter. Horror and woe, they lament; we’ve got yet another fake Tory in No 10! People in the so-called “red wall” constituencies that used to be solidly Labour are down to earth. They are hard-working and thrifty. They greatly dislike money being thrown down the drain. Red…

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huawei Britain Global conflict 

Will Boris fail his first big test over Huawei?

Is Boris Johnson about to fail his first big test?* Reports suggest that he is about to give the Chinese technology company Huawei the contract to install at least parts of the UK’s upcoming 5G network. This would be an appalling decision. Huawei is not so much a company as an arm of the Chinese state. Its purpose in embedding itself in the communications systems of other countries is to extend the power of the Chinese communist party into those countries for the purposes of surveillance and possibly even sabotage.…

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Boris Johnson Hanukkah message Britain Israel 

A Boris bear-hug against British antisemitism

Is the British government beginning to change its century-old attitude of ambiguity towards Israel and come out instead as its unequivocal friend? Don’t get too excited just yet. It’s certainly true that, fresh from his thumping election victory, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered an extraordinary Hanukkah message to the country’s antisemitism-beleaguered Jewish community. Going far beyond predictable seasonal bromides, he delivered a very pointed profession of heartfelt support. The festival of lights, he said, was a time to celebrate the Jews’ unique identity. “When the Maccabees drove the forces…

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