The British Government put Brexit before the health of the nation
The UK has been saved from a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The day before Christmas, the UK government agreed a deal with the European Union so that the UK continues to have a trade deal with its largest trading partner after the end of the transition period on December 31st. However much you dislike Brexit, or indeed the Brexit deal, that is good news. The economy has one less reason to fall off a cliff in the new year.
The government have been working hard on Brexit, and are now happy to tell us all what a great deal it is, and also how much chaos will still ensue as a result of it. But in the background, we just had Christmas. Boris Johnson likes doing things at the last minute. The last minute Brexit deal came the day before a Christmas that was far less relaxed than he promised it would be, after reversing his promise to relax pandemic lockdowns over the festive period.
Instead of multiple households meeting over several days, the British people came together in smaller groups, over just one day. Or rather, that is what they were supposed to have done — were asked to do. We won’t ever know what really happened at Christmas. The hopelessly complicated messaging from the government, the last minute change of rules, and the general lack of faith people have in the government will no doubt mean that more people met over more days than was advised.
The last minute lockdown before Christmas, which had been advised by scientists for a week or more, caused people to flood out of the city, carrying the new more infections strain with them into the rest of the country. Any competent government would have informed the railway companies, police, and transport organisations beforehand to prevent this exodus.
Christmas alone will lead to rising levels of Covid infections over the coming weeks. Although bad already, damage will take time to show. But the new, more infectious strain of Covid is also having an impact, as are the pretty lax approach some people, and some cities have had to following the rules.
Covid is bad now, really bad. We still have new year’s eve, during which people will party, whether they’re meant to or not. And we have schools and universities returning after new year. If you want to know quite how bad it is, this thread on Twitter explains it in detail. Prof Pagel, of University College London, ends her tweets with:
There really is no point in sugar coating it. If it weren’t for the vaccine(s) I’d be seriously scared out of my wits. I still am pretty scared. The govt urgently needs a new plan — with national tier 4 being only the start.
Here’s the reality of the situation:
- This is a very low calibre government. Johnson’s need to hire ideological loyalists who would back his approach to Brexit ruled out plenty of very capable, experienced politicians from joining his cabinet. They have been out of their depth since the start of the pandemic, constantly making decisions too late to be useful, reversing bad decisions, and failing to get crucial technology and initiatives off the ground.
- For even the most competent and experienced of governments, this global pandemic has been a massive challenge.
- The government had the option to postpone the end of the Brexit transition, asking the EU for an extension of the transition period so governments on both sides could focus on the pandemic.
- Instead, the UK has suffered a prime minister recovering from a serious illness, supported by an inexperienced and talentless cabinet trying to juggle the two most serious challenges this country has faced in generations.
- Johnson’s personal ambition to ‘get Brexit done,’ means he was not as focussed on the pandemic as he could have been. The UK is now seeing infection rates and hospitalisations soar. It didn’t need to be like this — other countries have got this under control, so we could have done too.
- Therefore, getting a Brexit deal done — a political act with no immediate benefit to the country — will have cost lives. I hope Johnson and his government will be judged as harshly for this as they deserve.