Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s ‘gung-ho’ messaging heightens A&E fears as pubs reopen

NHS ambulance and A&E staff are braced ‘with a great deal of trepidation’  for the fall-out from the mass opening of pubs in England on Saturday, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, warned today (Wednesday 1 July).

If that happens, Unite will blame the ‘gung-ho and mixed messaging’ from prime minister Boris Johnson for putting too much emphasis on the easing of the lockdown and not sufficient weight on the need to still follow the social distancing rules.

The warning from Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, came as Britons were estimated to spend £200 million in pubs this weekend, as the hospitality sector reopens on Saturday (4 July).

Already Unite’s 3,000 ambulance members have reported in the last few weeks an increase in accidents at illegal parties; more young people saying they have Covid-19 symptoms; and an increase in ‘non-essential’ calls that could be dealt with by such services as NHS 111.

There has also been an increase in the use of nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’, at these illegal parties. These canisters can be purchased cheaply off the internet.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Our ambulance members have reported an increase in calls in recent weeks and, unfortunately, some of them are related to the flouting of the social distancing rules.

“So it is with deep concern that our members in the ambulance service and in A&E departments are preparing themselves for the fall-out from a badly behaved minority when pubs reopen on Saturday.

“If that happens, we will blame the gung-ho mixed messaging from Boris Johnson who has put more emphasis on easing the lockdown and people enjoying themselves this weekend than with telling people to adhere strictly to the social distancing measures. 

“Unite is not trying to restrict people’s enjoyment and we fully support our members in the hospitality sector who have had a really tough time since March.

“But people need to heed the advice of England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty who has said social distancing remains vital, otherwise the rates of Covid-19 infection will rise again, as has been seen in Leicester.

“Sunday (5 July) is the NHS’ 72nd birthday, so it would be a rich irony that after weeks of Thursday evening clapping and warm words of ministerial praise, dedicated NHS staff spend the weekend clearing up drunken vomit due to mixed messaging.”

Chair of the Unite ambulance committee Debbie Wilkinson said: “Our members are bracing themselves with a great deal of trepidation about what is going to happen this weekend, when excessive drinking could see many more visits to A&E departments.

“Ambulance colleagues have noticed for some time that some people are not following the rules and this is really serious as we have more than 43,000 deaths in the UK from Covid-19. We have seen a rise in young, fit people signalling that they have coronavirus symptoms.

“There has been an increase in accidents at illegal parties, as well as the use of nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’.

“Sadly, we have also seen more people getting in touch, following the lockdown, with very serious illnesses, such as cancer, who should have been seen during the last few months. For some, unfortunately, it is too late.

“People need to behave with responsibility and consideration for others this weekend and not put the NHS under further pressure.”

Unite supports Moorside ‘clean energy hub’ that could mean 25,000 jobs across the north west

Unite has joined with 16 major companies and other unions to promote the Moorside Clean Energy Consortium which proposes a package of nuclear projects, including a new power station.

Unite hopes that this initiative will kick-start the construction of Moorside nuclear power station, stalled since Toshiba withdrew from the project in November 2018.

Unite also hopes that this industry/trade union plan prompts business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) secretary Alok Sharma to give a copper-bottomed commitment to ‘new nuclear’ as part of the government’s much-vaunted ‘levelling up’ strategy.

Unite regional secretary for the north west Ritchie James said: “The launch of this initiative is to be warmly welcomed. The north west region is reeling from the adverse economic impact of Covid-19 with thousands of jobs across all sectors under severe threat as the furlough scheme tapers off.

“The fact that this consortium is looking beyond tomorrow and into a low carbon future is good news, given that there could be a post-pandemic 25,000 jobs bonanza across the region if this takes off.

“When Toshiba withdrew from the Moorside site, after well-publicised financial problems in 2018, this was a blow to the economic future of Cumbria – we hope the consortium, to which Unite has signed up to, will kick-start a decision from government.”

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Business secretary Alok Sharma needs to provide the financial support and political clout for ‘new nuclear’ as part of the much-heralded ‘levelling up’ strategy that has been repeatedly promised by Boris Johnson. Now is the time for the rhetoric to translate into reality.

“We continue to urge the government to articulate its long-term commitment to a new era for nuclear power where it plays a vital role in the energy ‘mix’ – without this commitment, it is difficult to see how the UK can meet its ‘net zero’ pledge by 2050.”

Ministers urged to step in with cash boost to revive London’s economy

Boris Johnson was urged today (Friday 26 June) not to abdicate the government’s responsibilities to London and provide a cash injection to help the capital’s economy recover post-Covid-19.

The call came from Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan issued his budget guidance as to how the Greater London Authority Group (GLA) would look to make savings of up to £500m over the next two years, unless ministers step in.

Unite regional secretary for London Pete Kavanagh said: “The economy and the lives of Londoners have been battered and thrown into turmoil by the coronavirus emergency.

“Because of the unprecedented nature of Covid-19, the government needs to step in with a generous financial settlement to get one of the world’s great cities back to a semblance of normality.

“There are so many reasons why the chancellor Rishi Sunak needs to get his cheque book out to assist London’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Such a recovery will require a joined-up and properly resourced transport network, which before the lockdown saw London buses alone carrying six million passengers a day. 

“The £1.6bn government bailout in May – a combination of grant and loans – for Transport for London (TfL) was only for four months, and carried with it a number of stringent conditions, following the dramatic slump in passenger numbers.

“There now needs to be a serious look at what is needed financially for the short and long-term to keep Londoners on the move.

“Unite members have been on the frontline in London during the crisis, with more than 30 deaths amongst London bus workers.

“They must not now be expected to pay for the government’s apparent reluctance to give the necessary support for the wide range of services that London needs to function as a good place to live and work, and where businesses and the service economy can thrive.

“Unite will fight every step of the way to resist job losses or any erosion of terms and conditions. There is already much to do in terms of addressing driver fatigue, long hours and low pay – without any further pressures in the working lives of our members.

“The prime minister has repeatedly pledged that there will be no return to the austerity regime of previous Tory governments and Unite intends to see that this is one promise that Boris Johnson keeps.

“Now is not the time for the prime minister to abdicate his responsibilities to the people of London.”

Unite is the union for bus workers, TfL and front line workers in revenue protection, bus operations and Dial a Ride, as well as having key groups of membership in London Underground, Croydon Trams and Victoria coach station – all of which could be affected by any future cuts.

Helen Hayes reacts to the news that Mark Sedwill is to stand down from his role as Cabinet Secretary

Helen Hayes MP, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, responding to the news that Mark Sedwill is to stand down from his role as Cabinet Secretary, said:

“We pay tribute to the work Mark Sedwill has done. He has been a dedicated public servant and has run the civil service in difficult times.

“On the day it was revealed millions of jobs across the country could be under threat in the coming months, it is very concerning that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are preoccupied with reshuffling Whitehall.”

Wales will “Never Forgive” PM if he blocks Swansea Tidal Lagoon

Unite the union is extremely concerned by media reports that the UK Government is set to block the go ahead for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. With only 8 days left until planning consent for the project expires, there is considerable speculation that Whitehall officials are sabotaging the scheme which would be a landmark infrastructure project for Wales and the UK.

Unite the union has consistently backed the project, seeing it as a way of revitalising the economy of South West Wales and positioning Wales and the UK as a world leader in the emerging green tidal energy sector.

Peter Hughes, Unite Wales Regional Secretary commented;

“Welsh manufacturing has taken a hammering during recent years. The Covid19 pandemic has worsened this trend and industrial employment in Wales has taken giant strides backwards in recent months.

Supporting the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project would be a perfect opportunity for the UK Government to show that Wales will not, yet again, be at the back of the queue when it comes to landmark infrastructure projects. Boris Johnson has previously gone on the record in Wales supporting this project, he has to keep his word on this.

It beggars belief that a Government touting ‘green recovery’ continues to ignore the one piece of green infrastructure sitting shovel-ready in Wales and the one opportunity we have to seed a new growth industry in Wales. This project makes economic and environmental sense and would give our country hope that it can emerge from this crisis with some hope for the future.

Wales wants and needs this project. If Boris Johnson rows back from previous commitments and continues in the Tory tradition of ignoring the needs of Wales, he will never be forgiven.”

Labour demands the Prime Minister discloses meetings with Richard Desmond in the run up to the Westferry development scandal

Labour has today demanded answers from No 10 about Boris Johnson’s relationship with Richard Desmond and his role in the Westferry scandal, in which Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick unlawfully approved a planning application knowing that it would help the multibillionaire Conservative Party donor avoid tens of millions of pounds in tax.

Labour has demanded to know how many occasions Boris Johnson has met Richard Desmond since becoming Prime Minister, as well his meetings with other Conservative Party donors. It follows reports that the Cabinet Secretary is investigating the Housing Secretary for a breach of the Ministerial Code.

Steve Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:

“This murky affair threatens to engulf 10 Downing Street. It’s not just the Housing Secretary that needs to come clean about the decisions he has taken, it’s the Prime Minister too.

“Robert Jenrick’s unlawful, biased decision that saved Desmond tens of millions of pounds was seeded in the Prime Minister’s approval of this application while he was Mayor of London, when he was wined and dined by Desmond in five star hotels across London.

“This scandal reaches right inside 10 Downing Street given the Prime Minister’s relationship with Richard Desmond. He must now come clean about when he and his advisers met Desmond since taking office and must ask the Cabinet Secretary to launch a formal investigation into any breaches of the Ministerial Code to show the Conservatives have not been accepting cash for favours.”

Louise Haigh comments on Boris Johnson’s plane being repainted for £900,000

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, commenting on Boris Johnson’s plane being repainted for £900,000, said:

“When families across the country are worried about their jobs, health and the education of their children, they will rightly question the Government’s priorities when they are spending almost a million pounds redecorating a plane which in all likelihood has been grounded for months because of the coronavirus.”

Marsha de Cordova responds to announcement about commission on BAME issues

Marsha de Cordova MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, responding to the government’s announcement about establishing a “new cross-governmental commission to look at what’s going on with BAME groups”, said:

“We are in the midst of a global health pandemic that has sharply exposed deep structural inequalities which have long since needed urgently addressing.

“That the Prime Minister now says he wants to ‘change the narrative… So we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination’ is condescending and designed to let himself and his Government off the hook.

“Boris Johnson’s Government must acknowledge and act on the racial injustices and should now move to deliver a race equality strategy that sets out plans to reduce the structural inequalities and institutional racism faced by ethnic minorities in Britain.”

Labour calls on Prime Minister to take personal responsibility for leading the national response to this weekend’s protests

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary has called on the Prime Minister to rise to the challenge of this national moment of crisis, ahead of concerns around violent scenes this weekend, said:

“Over the past week, Keir Starmer and I have held several meetings with police representatives in England about this weekend’s protests.

“It is clear that the weekend ahead is likely to cause major challenges, with the risk of violence in our streets, not least as far-right extremists seeking to exploit the situation and sow hate for their own divisive ends.

“I have no doubt that police across the country have the skills, experience and dedication to respond as well as possible to the challenge, and the vast majority of protestors intend to be peaceful.

“However, the Prime Minister should be showing national leadership, by coordinating the Government’s response to the complex issues underpinning these protests.

“This means recognising the deep hurt so many Black people in our country have spoken so powerfully about, and setting our steps for meaningful action against racism in our country.

“This is a powerful moment in our history and it is important the Prime Minister is not found to be wanting.”

Government COVID-19 testing data presentation “misleading” – Ashworth responds

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to the UK Statistics Authority letter describing the Government’s COVID-19 testing data presentation as “misleading”, said:

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, departs from his home in London, U.K., on Friday, May 29, 2020. The prime ministers key aide is mired in a spiraling scandal where he’s accused of breaking the countrys lockdown rules, the same ones he helped craft. Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Following the Cummings scandal it’s vital ministers rebuild trust in their strategy especially as we want the public to adhere to social distancing to keep everyone safe.

“This intervention from the UK statistics authority is damning. For test and trace to be effective we all need confidence in the data.

“The Health Secretary must start publishing the numbers of people tested and the number of contacts traced. He must stop including mailed tests as completed. He must offer a full update on how many care home residents, care staff and NHS staff have been routinely tested whether symptomatic or not.”