A Tory Said What: February 2021

‘If people put a particular type of integrationist theology ahead of the interests of the people of Northern Ireland they are not serving the cause of peace and progress in Northern Ireland - and that is my principal and overriding concern. Pandora’s Box has been opened and that is concerning…who knows what Trojan horses will come out

Michael Gove (MP for Surrey Heath, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), 8th February

The Duchy of Lancaster was in front of a Parliamentary Committee when he made these remarks that were reported on. The subject was of course the arrangements for Northern Ireland post-Brexit and the EU issue of Article 16 at the end of January. Seeing these comments, I cannot help but feel that if you are serious about making renegotiations perhaps not using such language as ‘integrationalist theology’, talking of Pandora’s Box and ‘Trojan horses’ may not be the right way to go about starting that. The letter he sent to the EU six days prior came into public knowledge on this day but he is probably going on in the same vein.

It is a great advertisement for this country. People have chosen to stay in unprecedented numbers. It gives a lie to some of the nonsense that was propagated at the time of the Brexit vote that somehow the UK was less welcoming or that EU citizens would leave, or that there would be harm to our universities or to our healthcare sector

Michael Gove (MP for Surrey Heath, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), 8th February

I will assume in the same Committee session, Michael Gove made these comments about the number of people who had applied for Settled Status post-Brexit. At the time, 4.3.m had granted Settled status. The Minster is trumpeting it as a success of Brexit and that we are still a welcoming country.

Seeing some tweets online though, the picture of a welcoming country is not one I saw. They paint a narrative of being faced with no choice but to apply or else they be declared an illegal citizen, lose their homes and their livelihoods al through something they did not have the right to vote on.

'All decisions on arrests are an operational matter for the police, and the police make arrests in line with their duties to keep the peace and to protect communities. I am afraid at this stage that is all I can say'

Priti Patel, (MP for Witham and Home Secretary), 8th February

Damian Collins brought up the situation faced by journalist Andy Aitchensen, who was arrested after taking photos during the Napier Barracks protests at the end of January. As the MP for Folkestone told the Commons, the case charges were dropped and the case closed but he asked if the Home Secretary believes he should have a clean record having done nothing wrong. The response from the Home Secretary is underwhelming as she refused to criticise what happened. She is Home Secretary. She is going to support the police, it is part of the job. That said, when someone has been wrongly arrested having been doing his job, surely coming out and saying he should have a clean record should be no big deal.

'…It is simply not consistent with the manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders, and it wasn’t consistent with the idea of Brexit that the majority of people in this country voted for…'

Caroline Dinenage (MP Gosport and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), 8th February

The Culture Minister was giving evidence to the Petitions Committee where the subject of Brexit and the new visa arrangements were mentioned. Ms Dinenage sought to showcase that the UK government made an offer that would have provided the music and the arts with what they sought which was turned down by the EU. The EU also made proposals that were rejected by the UK Government for the above reasons. It did not fit the manifesto commitment of taking control of the borders.

What is the expression? It takes two to tango? Likewise, it takes two parties to negotiate

'HSE has decided the category ‘significant’ in the EMM table best supports inspectors in making sensible, proportionate regulatory decisions. The definition is that the effects are non-permanent or reversible, non-progressive and any disability is temporary. This definition refers to the likely response of the working population as a whole, not taking account of individuals with a particular resistance or susceptibility.'

Mims Davies (MP for Mid Sussex and Parliamentary Under-secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions), 8th February

This was a written response from the DWP Parliamentary Under-secretary to a question posed by Andy McDonald as to what the Health and Safety Executive had categorised Covid-19. The response is staggering!

I agree ‘significant’ is an appropriate classification of Covid-19 but that the effects are ‘non-permanent or reversible, none-progressive and any disability is temporary’. Seriously? What about the effects of long-covid which has affected around 1 in 20 people for weeks and months after their initial illness that has seriously changed peoples lives. Surely, it seems too early to say whether ‘any disability is temporary’ at this time.

This quote only came to my attention after a story in The Guardian on 14th February. Despite there being more than 3,5000 outbreaks in workplaces since July according to Public Health England, none had been shut down with no covid related prohibition notices handed out since last March. That stemmed perhaps from this categorisation. The week the Minister made this written response, there 100 outbreaks but no action despite the county being in lockdown with inspectors blaming the classification for preventing them from issuing the prohibition notices and prosecute employers. None have been prosecuted according to the TUC.

Should we be surprised given what the Minister wrote back to Andy McDonald?

My understanding is no but discussions are still ongoing

George Eustice (MP for Camborne and Redruth, and Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), 9th February

It was the second day running of Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain asking a Government Minister a simple question; how many hotels had been signed up to be used for the Government Quarantine policy. Just like Edward Agar the day before, yet another Cabinet Minister was not in the know. This answer came at the fourth time of asking by Morgan as he repeatedly probed the Minister.

At least he sounded more in the know than the Health Minister was the day before. However, the crucial thing is this was six days before Quarantine came into force and this was yet another government minister who couldn’t say how many hotels had signed up.

We all know that when an aeroplane takes off, that’s the point when you sometimes get that increased level of turbulence...But then eventually you reach a cruising altitude and the crew tell you to take your seatbelt off and enjoy a gin and tonic and some peanuts. We’re not at the gin and tonic and peanuts stage yet, but I’m confident we will be.'

Michael Gove (MP for Surrey Heath, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), 9th February

The Duchy of Lancaster was up n front of the House of Lords EU Committee the following day and so too was Brexit negotiator David Frost. The headline was that Lord Frost claiming that the first few weeks of Brexit had been bumpier than expected. Meanwhile, the Duchy of Lancaster attempted to downplay the issues, especially the Article 16 notification from the EU over vaccine supplies at the end of January with the above example.

I am not sure comparing the first few weeks with an aeroplane journey would be the best comparison out there but fair enough. For him, it may well feel like that. Will it feel like that for businesses that have struggled immensely adapting to the new regulations and trade barriers? Will it feel like that for the businesses that have already had to close and go out of businesses? And those whose jobs have been lost? Who exactly will get to the so called ‘gn and tonic and peanuts stage’?

…From Monday, all international arrivals, whether under home quarantine or hotel quarantine, will be required by law to take further PCR tests on day two and day eight of that quarantine…

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 9th February

In his latest address to MPs in the House of Commons, Matt Hancock announced a tightening of the Quarantine restrictions for new arrivals into the country. This quote comes from the second of three strengthened elements that would come into place from 15th February. All international arrivals being required to take a test within days of arrival. The question that came to my lips was why didn’t it happen sooner? Not necessarily from the early days of the pandemic but when we were ramping up testing alongside building the required capacity to test the public in general.

'That includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test; a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days; and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice, rising to £10,000, for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel. We are also coming down hard on people who provide false information on the passenger locator form. Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they have been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years'

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 9th February

The Health Secretary announced tough new measures for those who fail to follow the quarantine policy that would be implemented from 15th February. The eyebrow-raising figure was the £10,000 fine for failing to quarantine and the maximum figure of 10 years for telling a lie on the passenger locator form.

Is he trying to rival Priti Patel for his tough on crime credentials? I don’t know. The situation on a public health front is serious and lying about where you have been could have very serious implication for the country as a whole if a new variant is imported and grows out of control. That said, the figure is a bit high, designed to discourage the practice but in terms of affordability for an average person, to also discourage from overseas travel. 10 years imprisonment for lying on a form though is more the same as what you can get for the very worst of fraud offences, more than most firearm offences, racially aggravated assaults.

What do you think? Is it a sign of the seriousness of the situation we face with this pandemic or did the government go over the top in the maximum penalties?

'I am not aware of the closure of any vaccination centres. Of course, it is a matter for the Welsh Government if they are going to close vaccination centres, but I speak to the Welsh Health Minister regularly and this has not been raised as an issue of concern…I am not aware of the issue that the hon. Gentleman has raised. It is certainly not a problem across England, where I am directly responsible for the roll-out.'

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 9th February

After his big policy announcement, the Health Secretary faced questions from MPs and one such question came from Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhonda. Mr Bryant brought up concerns with vaccine supply in his constituency that could force vaccination centres to close. The response though is far from reassuring.

The Health Secretary is simply unaware as if it has nothing to do with him and appears to duck responsibility by suggesting it is a concern for the Welsh Government. To emphasis that further he stresses he is directly responsible for England. Devolution means that Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland all have their own Health Ministers in their devolved governments but last time I checked, Matt Hancock was health Secretary for not just England but the entire United Kingdom.

'They believe fundamentally that it is the duty of the taxpayer to pay for more and more and more. We want to get people into jobs, and it is in that respect that the Scottish nationalist party is, I am afraid, failing—'

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 10th February

The Prime Minister was making a jibe at SNP leader Iain Blackford as he urged Mr Johsnon to meet with him and other opposition party leaders at a summit on tackling child poverty before the budget. Johnson seemed to suggest he had done everything possible, that no government could have done more when there are still people really struggling. To people struggling and to the people quoted by the SNP leader, what does that response do for them?

On top of that, the Prime Minister retorts to insults by not saying the name of Mr Blackford’s party right. It is something he tends to do in these exchanges as he refers to the Scottish National Party as the Scottish Nationalist Party. It doesn’t make you big Prime Minster, it makes you look immature and it earned him the wrath of Speaker Sir Lindsey Hoyle who told him, ‘ we both know that you are only teasing and trying to wind up the leader of the SNP; please, let’s drop it. ‘

What’s worse? The Prime Minister did it again later in the session after being asked a question regarding public sector pay by Neil Gray.

A new freeport for the east midlands will create over 60,000 new jobs and provide a massive boost for employers such as Caunton Engineering and Abacus in Ashfield. After decades of neglect from Labour MPs, we now feel a sense of hope in the red wall seats. My mum and dad voted Conservative for the first time at the last general election and were touched when the Prime Minister acknowledged that their votes were lent. Could my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister please reassure my mum and dad, my friends, my family and all my constituents that our area will never be let down again?'

Lee Anderson (MP for Ashfield), 10th February

This was the MP for Ashfield, Lee Andersons question to the Prime Minister in PMQs as advocated for there to be a Freeport in the East Midlands that could benefit his constituents. I don’t know if that is because he sees it as a Brexit win but it is not. Freeports were possible while within the EU and the UK had five until 2012 when they were scrapped. He accuses Labour MPs of neglect in the so-called red wall seats but does he need reminding which party has been in Government since 2010? If these areas have been neglected for decades, then that is surely not the sole responsibility of the Labour party.

Remind me again, which of those two parties were responsible for the decade of Austerity? As much as Boris Johnson would want you to believe that it was Labour, it was in fact the Conservatives with many of them in Parliament for the duration.

'...Bridgend is going to be one of the great centres of battery manufacturing in this country, if not the world...'

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 10th February

The Prime Minister’s office was forced into admitting that he misspoke when he uttered this sentence in the Commons in response to a question from Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts. The statement was incorrect because the plant he was referring to was not in Bridgend but almost 350 miles away in Blyth. No such plans have been announced in Bridgend and the area itself was still reeling from the Ineos decision to move production to France in December. Britshvolt, the company involved in the production at Blyth, had also previously signed a memorandum of understanding with the welsh government in July 2020 so whether intentionally misspoken or not, the comment was not received well.

'People shouldn’t be booking holidays right now, not domestically or internationally. I’m saying exactly the same as every other minister is saying, which is there is uncertainty, and that means we cannot make categorical assurances'

Grant Shapps (MP for Welwyn Hatfield and Secretary of State for Transport), 10th February

'I absolutely hope for a great British summer and I’m working incredibly hard to try to make sure that can happen…I booked a place months ago, and of course I hope to [go], but there is this uncertainty.'

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 11th February

These two quotes, the first from the Transport Secretary and the second from the Health Secretary have been paired together because they created a picture of the government creating confusion. One day, you had one Minister saying people should not be booking holidays due to uncertainty. The next day, you have a Minister saying he has booked a holiday. Can I blame anyone for wanting to plan ahead just in case? I don’t think you can fairly but seeing these comments together does give the impression of inconsistency.

I won’t even bother responding to that

Andrew Bowie (MP for West Aberdeenshire and West Kincardine), 11th February

What would Andrew Bowie, the MP for West Aberdeenshire and West Kincardine not even bother responding to? He had just been told by George Monbiot saying if he lived in Scotland he would not blame them for wanting out of the dysfunctional union that is akin to a skinking ship like the United Kingdom. Mr Monbiot also stated being ruled by elite people telling you what to do in Scotland being intolerable. While he had stressed the fact he is from Scotland he was told he is part of that dysfunctional elite. That is what he would not going to bother answer.

A clip of the exchange is above but is it just me, but was the MP struggling to keep a straight face?

'No child will go hungry -every local authority is providing half term support with the money provided by Government via the Covid Winter Support Scheme which supports kids on Free School Meals and much more. This is political scaremongering of children at its worse.'

Vicky Ford, (MP for Chelmsford and Children’s Minister), 11th February

'Yet again - Labour are spreading mis-information which will worry vulnerable families. The Government's £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme is in place via Councils to ensure children are warm and well fed this February half-term and beyond.'

Will Quince (MP for Colchester and Department for Work and Pensions Minister), 11th February

Labour deputy leader Angela Raynor shared an article in The Independent, urging the government to do more to help children in poverty and extend the free school meals into the February half term. It prompted both of the above responses; the first from Vicky Ford the Chidrens Minister and Will Quince, DWP Minister. Both were not impressed with Ms Rayner and accused her of spreading misinformation and pointed towards the Governments Covid Winter Support Scheme would be providing support. Meanwhile, Ms Ford went so far as to accuse of her the worst sort of scaremongering.

Ms Rayner responded to both with a screenshot of the Governments own website regarding the Winter Support Scheme which states ‘it is not intended to replicate or replace free school meals’.

'It is quite wrong that these loony left-wing wheezes should be inflicted upon our great metropolis, and I think the Mayor, in his zeal, is potentially treading on the toes of councils anyway.'

Jacob Rees Mogg (MP for North East Somerset and Leader of the House of Commons), 11th February

Jacob Rees Mogg was conducting the Business of the House section in the House of Commons when he made these remarks regarding the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It came in response to a question from Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford regarding the taskforce that Mr Khan had set up for his commission for diversity and asking Rees Mogg to find time in Parliament to debate it. Mr Rees Mogg described the current Mayor as more to the left than Ken Livingstone before describing Mr Khan and those involved as ‘loony left wing wheezes’.

He doesn’t think they should be inflicted upon London? London voted for Sadiq Khan to be the Mayor of their city and it will be up to the people of London to decide whether they want such policies when it comes to the next election. Additionally, his use of language is eye-catching. Describing them as ‘loony’, does that fit the civil language that Boris Johnson wanted to see in debate? Do you think so? I don’t. Unsurprisingly, Downing Street thought it was acceptable.

'Mr Speaker, I will of course bow to your wisdom on this, but I believe the word “balderdash” is parliamentary, and it applies to the hon. Gentleman’s question.'

Jacob Rees Mogg (MP for North East Somerset and Leader of the House of Commons), 10th February

What is ‘balderdash’ in the words of Mr Jacob Rees Mogg? The notion of poverty and the disproportionate impact it has had on the North during the pandemic as put to him by Jon Trickett.

Were the claims of the Labour MP rubbish? We did not come out of the lockdown at the opportune time for the North. In mid-May last year, the average number of cases was 23.9 per day, in the North East and Yorkshire it was over 4,000. Then what happened, the lockdown was loosened and the north paid a higher price before Christmas being placed in higher tiers than London with cities such as Leicester, Manchester and Liverpool bearing most of the pain. There is some merit to what the Labour MP was saying as it did feel very London-centric the coming out of the first lockdown.

'As they used to say: “Weetabix unbeatabix!” My personal preference, if I were to eat Weetabix, would not be to have it with baked beans, which I have always found absolutely disgusting…However, Weetabix is absolutely splendid served with hot milk and brown sugar, although for preference, Mr Speaker, you will know what I like for breakfast: it is nanny’s home-made marmalade on toast'

Jacob Rees Mogg (MP for North East Somerset and Leader of the House of Commons), 10th February

While I am including his response just out of the shock that this was subject- the whole Wheatbaix and toast thing made it into Parliament, the responsibility for that does not fall with Jacob Rees Mogg. That responsibility falls to the MP for Kettering Mr Phillip Hollobone. What made him think that this was such a worthy thing to discuss using parliamentary time when we have seen the worst death toll to the pandemic and the worst economic hit for over 300 years and this is what they are talking about in Parliament!

As for Mr Rees Mogg, he shows himself to be out of touch with his favourite choice of breakfast having blabbered on about an outdated advertising slogan. The Speaker, Sir Lindsey Hoyle did not help either saying, ‘I have mine just with milk’. Am I overreacting but surely they could easily have had that conversation privately in text, WhatsApp or in the corridor not on the public record at the public expense.

Last summer was quite a moment with all the protests that we saw taking place. We saw policing as well coming under a great deal of pressure through some of the protest. I don't support protest and I also did not support the protests that were associated…"

Priti Patel, (MP for Witham and Home Secretary) 12th February

The Home Secretary was appearing on LBC with Nick Ferrari when she had this potentially awkward moment. She is initially referring to the Black Lives Matter protests that we saw in the UK last summer which she described as ‘quite a moment’. However, she then appeared to say that she does not support the protest.

What? Peaceful protest is an essential part of democracy in helping shape debate and while it may not change anything in the immediate sense, it could in the long run and helps minorities feel heard. The fact that a holder of one of the great offices of state has even said that they don’t support protest is shocking and potentially puts the country on a slippery slope.

Those protests were dreadful’ ‘No, I would not. I would not have at the time either. There are other ways in which people can express their opinions

Priti Patel (MP for Witham and Home Secretary) 12th February

After clarifying her earlier comment about protests, she clarified she was still referring to last years Black Lives Matter protests which she described as ‘dreadful’. The criminal damage elements were not great but in general, the protests were as a whole, a peaceful call for change against racial inequality and was potentially a generation-defining event. It brought the issues to the fore.

She was then asked if she would take the knee which she said she wouldn’t. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on whether they would take the knee or not and I would not begrudge them that. It is a symbol of solidarity but to someone who says what the Home Secretary said though, I would ask what ‘other ways’ would she prefer?

Also, while seeing these comments, I cannot help but wonder if the government was looking to shift away from the economic consequences of the pandemic. GDP had fallen by 9.9% annually, the biggest drop on record and the fact the UK has the highest death rate in Europe. Not to mention the fact her department lost the records of over 400,000 individuals last month. Where is the progress on that? Or the situation with Napier Barracks at the end of January?

'This monumental operation across all parts of the UK has given hope and comfort to so many families. Mine is no different, and I've danced a little jig as I've seen for myself the joy it can bring, as my grandfather, mum, dad, step-parents and in-laws and many loved ones have each, in turn, had their jabs these past few weeks'

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 13th February

The Health Secretary wrote an exclusive article in the Daily Mail with the headline of ‘I’ve danced a little jig at the joy the jab’s giving’. He was speaking more specifically about the personal experience of seeing his elderly relatives receiving their jabs. No one can begrudge him that. I would have the same sort of feelings of relief and celebrating that the people I love and care about have a level of protection. Being a critic, however, the headline was perhaps insensitive to the over 100,000 families that have lost loved ones during the pandemic, many of them perhaps were avoidable had the government acted differently.

Growing up I never thought I would be in this job (mainly because I wanted to be a Jedi). I'm honoured that on this day last year the PM asked me to serve as Chancellor. It's been incredibly tough but thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.

Rishi Sunak (MP for Richmond-Yorkshire and Chancellor of the Exchequer), 13th February

For Rishi Sunak, 13th February was a work anniversary as he marked a year since taking on the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer after the resignation of Sajid Javid. To be fair, I initially included it because I liked how said he wanted to be a Jedi when he was younger. It brought about a real human touch to him. Given his background though, he may well never have thought he would be Chancellor of the Exchequer but he will always have known he would have had a very strong career and after being propelled into William Hague’s safe Richmond seat he may have thought a Cabinet role may have been possible one day.

This is a very important study on vitamin D and Covid-19. Its findings are incredibly clear. An 80% reduction in need for ICU and a 60% reduction in deaths, simply by giving a very cheap and very safe therapy - calcifediol, or activated vitamin D.

David Davis (MP for Haltemprice and Howden), 13th February

David Davis was sharing a research paper claiming that an increase in Vitamin D could reduce hospitalisations with Covid-19 and called on the Government to, ‘increase the dose and availability of Vitamin D to all the vulnerable groups. He is perfectly entitled to share his views but the findings were dismissed by Dr Chris Van Tulleken, Associate Professor at the University College of London who described the study the MP is referring to as ‘flawed to the point it has no use’.

Given his position, the Professor is entitled to give his honest professional opinion. He continued in his thread insisting, ‘I’m not clear why he would share something he didn’t understand and follow it with such dogmatic assertions about policy?’ and arguing that ‘The damage is that it’s a distraction from meaningful interventions which actually save lives. It promotes really bad science’. Who would you back in this argument? The Professor or the MP?

Should an MP be sharing something he or she may not fully understand, potentially undermining confidence in the science?

Whilst I agree that we should use heritage to educate people about Britain’s rich and complex history, this work should never be driven by ideology…Proud and confident nations face their past squarely; they do not seek to run from or airbrush the history upon which they are founded…History is ridden with moral complexity, and interpreting Britain's past should not be an excuse to tell an overly-simplistic version of our national story, in which we damn the faults of previous generations whilst forgetting their many great achievements. Purging uncomfortable elements of our past does nothing but damage our understanding of it."

Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), 13th February

The above quotes from a letter the Culture Secretary sent to a ‘common sense’ group of backbench Conservative MPs. It comes amid reports from the Daily Telegraph that he would meet with Heritage bodies including the British Museum, the National Trust and International War Museums.

A few of the remarks in the letter though, I have to critique as History is sort of my thing. I don’t know what he is referring to by ‘purging uncomfortable elements of our past’. In what way have we been doing that? It is my view certainly as someone that has studied history, that is not what has been happening in the past year. Groups such as Back Lives Matter prompted a discussion about our past and our interpretations of it.

History is always being rewritten as historians made known on social media.

There are also increasingly scary parallels to other countries as pointed out by Sir Richard Evans Regius Professor Emeritus of History, University of Cambridge; Co-Editor, Journal of Contemporary History…

History as we know it is subjective, It is based on evidence. If Governments don’t like that because it is embarrassing to face some home truths then that is just tough. It is almost like in the Harry Potter books when the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge goes on the offensive because he does not believe Lord Voldermort is back.

This government is trying to do is avoid the expansion of our knowledge to maintain the status quo. They must not get away with it.

We have always been clear that there are changes that come with exiting the transition period, and what we’re trying to do is support businesses as best we can to manage those. I think if you take a 10-year view, as well as looking at the short-term risk, which is right to do, actually the growth opportunities in the future are going to come from emerging and developing economies around the world’.

Dominic Raab, (MP for Esher and Walton, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State), 14th February

The Foreign Secretary had the Sunday media round and the above quote came from his interview with Andrew Marr on the Marr Show. Marr had asked the Foreign Secretary about some of the issues that businesses had been facing since the end of the transition period

Who remembers seeing that on the side of the big red bus? 10 years before we can judge Brexit as a success or a failure? I’m pretty sure there is a way you can judge it before then; the General Election in 2024. That said, 10 years is better than what Jacob Rees Mogg once said that it could be 50 before we see any benefits. Who remembers anyone saying that in the time since the referendum?

The interview did not get much better with the Foreign Secretary with him saying a few more comments that are certainly questionable. I leave it to Femi Oluwole’s embedded video below…

‘The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of Unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos. A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector. Let’s concentrate on making the Protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down

Simon Hoare (MP for North Dorset and Chair of the Northern Ireland Select Committee), 14th February

Valentines weekend also brought a story from the Daily Telegraph that the government was considering putting a tunnel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as a means to help unblock trade caused by Brexit. To be honest, it is probably more workable than the idea of having a bridge and a tunnel was also suggested by one of my uncles the last time I saw him. This Tweet from the Char of the Northern Ireland Select Committee was perhaps one of the more brutal takedowns of the suggestion.

He was responding to the summary of the idea by Aodhan Connolly, the Director of the Northern Ireland retail consortium who commented that it took 30 years for the channel tunnel to become a reality. So, this planned tunnel would take a very long time indeed and that it would not unblock trade. Only realignment would do that. As for the idea in general, Is it workable? Would it even happen? It could be another London garden bridge scheme that was dreamt up by Boris Johnson that will probably never be delivered.

‘The clear message that we get from the proceedings in America is that after all the toings and froings and all the kerfuffle, American democracy is strong and the American constitution is strong and robust.

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 14th February

The Prime Minister was appearing (not physically of course otherwise he’d have had to quarantine) as a guest on CBS’s Face the Nation when he was asked what a sign of acquittal of Donald Trump in his second impeachment may mean for democracy. Did he really just describe the whole episode as a kerfuffle?

Really? The former President attempted to incite a riot on Capitol Hill and the British Prime Minister thinks it was a kerfuffle. I am unaware of what President Biden thought of the episode but at its very worst, it was an attempted coup to overturn the result of a democratic ballot. It is good for democracy that the result was ratified but what message would it send for someone to be acquitted? That you can do that, go to such lengths which saw five killed and you will not be punished. It emboldens anyone who would consider doing it in the future.

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