trange days. Elon Musk is now the richest person in the world. He claims half his money is going towards building “a self-sustaining city on Mars … in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens”. The disaster stuff sounds like a joke. But in case you’ve forgotten, there’s a demented megalomaniac in the White House who still has access to the nuclear codes. Boris Johnson has finally distanced himself from Trump and condemned his actions. But the PM isn’t dwelling on old friendships. Instead, he’s offering future targets for the vaccination programme to save us from disaster.
Inside the bubble
Political editor Andrew Woodcock on what to look out for on Monday:
Ministers will be watching for the weekly update of the crucial R reproduction rate of coronavirus, which will give an indication of whether the limited relaxation of curbs at Christmas led to a spike in infections. The Lords will debate the Brexit trade agreement, as more of the impacts on trading with the EU emerge.
MR BUMP’S JIBBER-JABBER: Boris Johnson admitted there would likely be some “lumpiness and bumpiness” in the rollout of the Covid vaccine – but still promised at least 200,000 jabs a day by the end of next week. New GP-led sites in England would help off offer “hundreds of thousands” of daily jabs by 15 January, the PM said – with the Army using “battle preparation techniques” to help achieve the goals. Johnson also revealed that his government wants all elderly care home patients vaccinated by the end of this month. Matt Hancock will give the “exact” details of how the government intends to reach its vaccination target on Monday, the PM pledged. It came as a further 1,162 Covid deaths were reported on Thursday – the second consecutive day of more than 1,000 fatalities. It also emerged London hospitals could be short of nearly 2,000 hospital beds by 19 January. Johnson told anyone still claiming it was all a hoax to “grow up”.
ANOTHER FINE (PRINT) MESS: Brexit isn’t getting too much coverage at the moment, but big problems are becoming more evident by the day. Some of the nation’s biggest traders are realising they’re essentially paying taxes on goods not fully made in Britain. The British Retail Consortium warned members face tariffs for re-exporting goods to the EU (goods imported into the UK then exported for sale in Europe). Among the large firms said to be re-evaluating their costs are Boots, Argos, Tesco and H&M. Steve Rowe, CEO at Marks & Spencer, said: “Tariff free does not feel like tariff free when you read the fine print.” The Food and Drink Federation said manufacturers are being forced to cancel delivery to customers in Ireland for the same reason. Brexit commentator David Henig said it was “genuinely jaw dropping” large companies were “unaware” of rules. It comes as hauliers said they are being “overwhelmed” by red tape on deliveries to Northern Ireland. Logistics UK said lorries continue to arrive with incomplete paperwork.
UNDER LOCK AND KEY: Confusion reigns supreme when it comes to schools too. Head teachers have been overwhelmed with applications from parents claiming key worker status during lockdown, amid uncertainty over who qualifies. Paul Whiteman, head of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said between 50 and 70 per cent of families were trying to access schools in some areas. “The list of key workers seems to be being used much further than was expected,” he said. Education secretary Gavin Williamson said children without access to technology were among to those who could still attend. But the NAHT said schools “have been put in an impossible position” trying to sort it all out. Williamson is now staggeringly, outstandingly unpopular with the profession – 92 per cent of teachers think he should quit, according to a Teacher Tapp survey.
MATT FOR ALL SEASONS: It might be necessary to revaccinate people against Covid as often as every six months, Matt Hancock has revealed. He told MPs on the health committee the virus may return on a seasonal basis in different forms, requiring tweaks to the vaccine. “There is absolutely no doubt that vaccines and testing will still be a feature next year,” said the health secretary on the prospects for 2022. Hancock faced frustration during a photo-op trip to a north London GP on Thursday – he turned up only to find delivery of the Oxford jabs hadn’t been delivered. There’s some good news in the form of two more life-saving Covid treatment drugs. They have been discovered to cut deaths in seriously patients by 24 per cent. However, there’s bad news from Wales, where an NHS nurse has tested positive for Covid only three weeks after getting the vaccine. The doctors’ union BMA Cymru Wales said there was a lack of evidence to support the 12 weeks gap for a second dose.
WRONG ‘UN: Boris Johnson said Donald Trump was “completely wrong” to cast doubt on the presidential election and encourage his minions to storm the US Capitol. The PM said he “unreservedly condemns” his old ally’s actions. Home secretary Priti Patel appeared reluctant to criticise – but did say the president’s comments had “directly led” to violence. Scotland’s justice minister Humza Yousaf called on Patel to deny Trump entry to the UK after he leaves office. As the fall-out continues, the Conservatives are now investigating comments made by the party’s former Welsh leader Andrew RT Davies comparing Trump rioters to those who campaigned for a second Brexit referendum. Responding to Keir Starmer’s criticism of the riots, Davies said: “To be honest I’m not sure you’re in the strongest position right now given you campaigned to overturn democracy and the will of the British people.”
REAL HORRORSHOW: Trump is pretending to proclaim peace, love and understanding to avoid getting kicked out of the White House in the coming days. The monster managed to toe the line in a new video message on Twitter – finally conceding that “a new administration will be inaugurated,” before adding: “This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.” Ha! (*laughs bitterly*). Democrat leaders are threatening to impeach him anyway. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would start the process unless VP Mike Pence and the Trump cabinet remove him using the 25th amendment. Pelosi called Trump “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office … any day can be a horrorshow for America”. So what about Pence? Could he really be considering it? According to Republican Senator James Inhofe, a stunned-looking Pence muttered “after all the things I’ve done” for Trump during the mob siege of the Capitol.
On the record
“I believe what President Trump has been saying about that has been completely wrong and I unreservedly condemn encouraging people to behave in the disgraceful way that they did in the Capitol.”
Boris Johnson distances himself from Donald Trump.
From the Twitterati
“Good to see Priti Patel recognise that words have consequences – if only she would understand the impact of her own anti-lawyer rhetoric. A few months ago, a man was charged with attempts to launch a terror attack on a law firm in my constituency.”
Gareth Thomas MP on the home secretary’s condemnation of Trump…
“What about if a minister condemned “activist” lawyers representing immigrants and asylum seekers, and just days later a man turns up at an immigration law firm with a knife?”
…and human rights solicitor Shoaib M Khan reminds Patel of her anti-lawyer comments.
Chris Stevenson, The Independent: Impeaching Trump would likely fail – but that is no reason not to fail
Sean O’Grady, The Independent: Is this really the end of Trump’s 2024 campaign?
Polly Toynbee, The Guardian: Why has Britain become numb to the deaths caused by government incompetence
James Forsyth, The Times: Boris Johnson is not Trump’s transatlantic twin
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