September 08, 2020
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Illegally blondFor some, the big news at Westminster today was cabinet minister Brandon Lewis’s candid words on new government legislation drafted in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “This does break international law – in a very specific and limited way,” the Northern Ireland secretary admitted to MPs.
Is Boris Johnson Losing Control Of Coronavirus, Again?
That outburst of honesty swiftly smashed the careful comms that No.10 and other ministers had tried to deploy as they sidestepped the question of legality and instead suggested this was all about technicalities. “We are committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement,” George Eustice and the PM’s spokesman had trilled. Lewis put paid to that particular line-to-take.
Add in the resignation of Jonathan Jones, head of the government’s legal service (another excellent FT scoop) over this apparent threat to the rule of law, and it was easy to see why several senior Tories felt obliged to speak out. Theresa May suggested the UK wouldn’t be “trusted”, Bob Neill, Tom Tugendhat, Tobias Ellwood, Roger Gale, Simon Hoare and George Freeman all piled in too.
What was striking however was the way Keir Starmer didn’t really go for the PM over the Lewis remarks. As I wrote last night, the Labour leader’s whole strategy is to avoid feeding Tory attack lines. Even though he knew Jones professionally when they were both lawyers, his main message on Brexit was that Johnson was in danger of BREAKING his word to the public.
Instead of falling into the trap of being painted as a ‘Remoaner’, Starmer tried a political judo throw, using the weight of the PM’s “Get Brexit Done” mantra against him (“Get on, negotiate, get the deal that was promised,” he told ITV News). As part of his long-term game plan, the criticism centred on competence, keeping promises and trust.
Starmer was also wise to focus on the more pressing emergency of Covid, saying the sooner Brexit was sorted the sooner the whole government could devote its energies to fighting the virus. And in perhaps his most critical words to date on the pandemic, he said the test and trace system was “on the verge of collapse”.
Some in government are furious at what they see as Starmer’s opportunistic hyperbole (irony alert: isn’t that the PM’s own political style?) on testing. Yet NHS Test and Trace’s Sarah Jane Marsh apologised publicly for a problem with laboratory bottlenecks and Matt Hancock admitted the problem could last two more weeks. Those are two weeks the country can ill afford.
But it was the local council leader in Bolton, which was today subject to fresh lockdown curbs, who had the most chilling words of all. David Greenhalgh said that the virus was now “moving round uncontrolled”. Johnson is set to address the nation on Wednesday, and given that he hasn’t fronted a No.10 press conference since July, that sense of national duty and accountability feels well overdue.
Cutting the legal number of people in a gathering from 30 to 6 is a start. A much stronger message would come however if the PM set out a clear national roadmap for re-entering national lockdown, just as he set one out for exiting it. In Bolton, pubs are reduced to takeaways and separate households are banned from mixing (beyond a support ‘bubble’). If those were the next steps for the whole country, at least there would be certainty.
Government insiders know that many of the PM’s core voters are more likely to sit up and take notice of legal restrictions on going to the pub than they are to worry about claims that the UK is breaching international laws and treaties.
As it is, we have no sense of the hierarchy of national lockdown restrictions, beyond knowing that schools will be the last to close. If the number of cases (today well above 2,000) and deaths (at 30 the highest for months) continues to rise nationally, wouldn’t it be better to let the public know what freedoms are at risk and in what order, so they can “plan for the worst” (copyright B Johnson), having hoped for the best?
Everyone will hope that the surge in deaths is a blip and that healthy young carriers avoid spreading the virus to older people. But for a PM who made his name on “taking back control”, the spectre of an out-of-control Coronavirus and, more importantly, the lack of a clear strategy for reining it in, would be very damaging indeed.Quote Of The Day“Tearing up treaties is what rogue states do. I can’t recall our ever doing so.”
Lord Kerr, former UK ambassador to Brussels and WashingtonTuesday Cheat SheetMatt Hancock told the Commons that a “sharp rise” in coronavirus cases in recent days in the UK is “concerning”. There were 2,420 more coronavirus cases in Britain over the past 24 hours.
Downing Street is looking at cutting the maximum permitted size for social gatherings in England.
Sir Jonathan Jones, permanent secretary to the Government Legal Department, quit in protest at the government’s Internal Market Bill, due to be published on Wednesday. Shadow Attorney General Lord Falconer said “it suggests something pretty rotten is happening in government”.
Theatre impresario and composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber told MPs that the arts are at the “point of no return” following damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing ministry minister Simon Clarke resigned from the government for personal reasons, including “balancing my own life against the demands of office”. He was replaced by Luke Hall. In a mini-reshuffle, Kelly Tolhurst moved from transport to MHCLG and Robert Courts joined transport.What I’m ReadingShould We All Be Copying Senegal On Covid? - USA TodayGot A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to waugh.zone@huffpost.com. Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.Related... Boris Johnson Facing Tory Backlash Over Law-Breaking Brexit Plan Keir Starmer Urges PM To 'Get A Deal' Done On Brexit Minister Admits Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Plan Breaks The Law
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Russo-Ukrainian War

The Russo-Ukrainian War has been ongoing between Russia and Ukraine since February 2014.

Russia's war in Ukraine has proven almost every assumption wrong, with Europe now wondering what left is safe to assume.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Madonna’s most bizarre TikTok and Instagram videos of 2022 | Page Six Celebrity News
December 30, 2022
Ggk_RlohXuI
Teresa Giudice and Luis Ruelas stand by sex multiple times a day: It’s ‘normal’ | Page Six
December 30, 2022
AljKbtgRGnc
Lisa Hochstein shared video confronting Lenny Hochstein & girlfriend at Miami club #shorts | PageSix
December 30, 2022
j_JVk60r6EI
'Channel 5' Creator Andrew Callaghan Talks BTS of 'This Place Rules' Documentary Feature
December 30, 2022
dJit_YG5fjg
#brendanfraser on getting jacked to play 'George of the Jungle' after 'Airheads" with #adamsandler
December 30, 2022
bkwreE4eMRQ
Selena Gomez, Ryan Gosling and Julia Fox Top the List Of Variety's Best Red Carpet Moments Of 2022
December 29, 2022
pv2A-331cLg
Wiz Khalifa Joins Neek Bucks For Upcoming 'Shot Caller' Video | TMZ
December 26, 2022
TxkRr1jj-gk
Andrew Zimmern Says TikTok Recipes Need to Stop This Holiday Season | TMZ
December 26, 2022
DdlO88KfJoY
Top 7 WTF Moments of 2022 | TMZ
December 26, 2022
3JA-5abr6A4
Most HIGHLY ANTICIPATED Movies of 2023 | E! News
January 01, 2023
3-1K1VSRjys
22 Pop Culture Moments That Defined 2022: Link in Comments! #shorts | E! News
December 31, 2022
MNnChuudoSA
Suspect Charged With Murder in Idaho College Killings | E! News
December 31, 2022
aeonRlI5xL0
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Aston Villa
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Nottingham Forest - Chelsea
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Bristol City
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - Cardiff City
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Rotherham
01
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackpool - Sunderland
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Everton
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Manchester United
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brighton - Arsenal
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Espanyol
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Osasuna
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Bournemouth - Crystal Palace
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Leeds
31
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Southampton
31
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Valencia
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Real Madrid
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Leicester City
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Hull City
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Burnley
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Reading
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Brentford
30
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Swansea City - Watford
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Celta Vigo - Sevilla
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Almeria
30
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Mallorca
29
Dec
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Elche
29
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
West Bromwich Albion - Preston NE
29
Dec
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackpool - Sheffield United
28
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
27
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Nottingham Forest
27
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Bournemouth
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - West Ham United
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
26
Dec
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.