Reporting from the ‘Home Office Front’ …
Yesterday, one news item made the rounds like wildfire: Michel Barnier tested positive and is now in self-isolation. Will this affect the Trade negotiations? I’ll look at that point below. The other huge item is how the MSM are reporting on the pandemic and how, fuelled by vested interests, they drive the government’s policies.
Let’s look at the Barnier news first. Unsurprisingly, this merited a whole report in the DT by their Remain Brussels correspondent, James Crisp. Some interesting bits of information – ‘self-information’ – saw the light of day:
“For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together,” the 69-year-old, who has responsibility for building the future UK-EU trade relationship, said. “I feel as good as possible and I am strictly confined to my home,” he added, showing a book he has written called “One for All” about the looming environmental crisis.” (paywalled link)
Promote yer book while self-isolating: nice one, M Barnier! To get the full flavour, watch him here, it’s in French, naturally, and the rapidity of his speaking put paid to my attempts to understand him. The gist was that ‘Europeans’ must work together so ‘we’ can emerge stronger’.
There are other interesting, informative snippets in this article, demonstrating that EU workers are obviously capable of working from home, given the strict measures imposed by the Belgian government. For example:
“The European Commission, where Mr Barnier works, has been following Belgian government orders that, wherever possible, staff must work from home. Belgium is under lockdown, with bars, schools and restaurants shut and people only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons. On Wednesday, the commission published a draft free trade agreement (FTA) setting out its hopes for a zero-tariff, zero-quota arrangement with the UK after Brexit – but British negotiators are keeping their version of the trade deal secret.” (paywalled link)
Weren’t we told two days ago that work on such drafts is impossible? But take note of the choice of expressions: bad UK keeps things ‘secret’ … Still, in fairness, the DT did acknowledge the Government’s position:
“This evening, the UK and EU have exchanged draft legal texts. We are sharing ours in confidence as a negotiating document as part of the ongoing negotiating process,” a UK Government spokesman said. “We will keep under review which documents it is appropriate to publish during the course of negotiations and whether it is useful to make them available more widely.” (paywalled link)
However, it is now clear that Remainers both in Brussels and here are definitely going to use the pandemic as stick to beat Johnson into caving in to their demands for an extension:
“While Downing Street insists the coronavirus outbreak will not be used as an excuse to extend the negotiations to finalise the trade deal beyond the end of the year, EU diplomats believe a request to do so is inevitable. EU officials confirmed to The Telegraph that senior envoys for Mr Barnier were last in London for talks in the middle of last week, raising the possibility of cross-infection with British negotiations given the average 10-day gestation period before patients show symptoms of coronavirus.” (paywalled link)
Will they now all drop like flies? Here’s more shock-horror – the government will simply not tell the DT if the team around David Frost has succumbed … they may all be ill, mightn’t they, and nobody could work on those drafts because they’re ‘self-isolating’, with no internet or telephone …:
“It is also understood that the EU member state Brexit envoys had held a “three or four-hour” meeting with Mr Barnier’s Task Force UK last Friday, raising concerns in Brussels that the disease may have spread more widely among diplomats and officials. The UK Government did not reply to a request for comment over whether David Frost, Britain’s negotiator, who met Mr Barnier in Brussels, had been tested.” (paywalled link)
Meanwhile, there’s an article in The Express, based on a radio interview with … Gordon Brown, the former Labour PM (link). He is certain that we must stay closely aligned after the pandemic! Ah well, perhaps he thinks he can ‘save the world’ as he did in the financial crisis of 2008. There’s also David Davis, in an interview with The Sun, apparently not self-isolating:
“Former Brexit Secretary David Davis appeared to suggest attempts to ensure the UK and the EU remain aligned at the end of the transition period are being led by France […]” (link)
Just so – and France is now also turning against Germany, not just us Brits, according to an article in the German online paper ‘Die Welt’ (link, for Hun-speakers) where it’s claimed that the French see the Germans as feeling superior and invincible because the German measures are not as draconian as the French. Italians meanwhile are very angry with the “Kartoffelesser”, the potato eaters, not least because there was nor is any help at all coming from Germany.
Remainers still believe our future lies in this crumbling entity where, despite those now hollow words about unity and solidarity none is being had. Why they also generously disregard the financial effects Remain will have on our already overburdened economy they fail to even mention.
Next, let’s look at the various reports on what government is doing or must be doing, as demanded by ‘experts’ and vested interests. Firstly, money:
“The government will offer unprecedented support for millions of workers to help Britons hit by the coronavirus crisis under radical plans to be unveiled by the Chancellor on Friday. Two measures under discussion include subsidising wages by freezing income tax payments during the crisis and giving National Insurance tax breaks.” (paywalled link)
Fair enough – but the most pressing support surely ought to be given to the self-employed and small businesses. However, this costs money, much money, and we all know where this is ultimately going to come from – us taxpayers. Having to pay Danegeld to the EU on top of that, thanks to Remain, is insufferable.
I am not going to talk about the ‘latest’ numbers: the information provided by governments is unreliable because there is no set method employed by all, e.g. who they’ve tested (all, or just those showing up with symptoms?) or how they determine who has actually died of the virus rather than their underlying medical conditions. Also beware of the way the various graphs are displayed in the MSM – they are still playing the dangerous ‘whose death rate is climbing fastest’, as if this were a competition.
Then there are reports of one London Hospital having to send away a corona patient (e.g. here paywalled here) because of lack of equipment. As always, delving into such reports brings to light some remarkable information: “Managers are off sick with stress.” Words fail me! Is this the ‘Blitz Spirit’ the government wants us to display?
Meanwhile, there’s the ‘food situation’. It seems appeals not to stockpile, i.e. hoard, (link) have fallen on deaf ears. Comment writers in the ’quality papers’ are pondering if government is doing enough to reassure people about food supply, that there are no shortages (paywalled here and here), dripping with concern for the over-70s, the ‘vulnerable’.
It’s very odd though that they praise supermarket chains for instituting a ‘silver hour’ for those oldies, without asking why that is necessary when those oldies should actually all stay at home, self-isolating as someone reports somewhat gleefully ‘from the front lines’, about those elderly ‘being out in force in a dawn raid’ (link, paywalled).
Well, needs must, innit, when managers are off sick because of stress, thus urgently needing the online services where some oh so clever people, in a more high-tech form of hoarding, have been block-booking delivery slots so that there’s now a waiting time of three to four weeks. Solidarity with those who actually need those services? Forget it!
And finally: as the government has given police forces draconian powers yesterday (link, paywalled), the first moan came already from the chairman of the Police Federation, that the forces don’t have enough equipment: sanitisers and such, you understand. So how the Mayor of London plans to enforce his own draconian measures for London is his secret, but his attitude is deeply worrying:
“The London mayor said “our liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed — use whatever word you want” to stop people dying from the virus. He said residents had not yet done enough to isolate themselves and reduce transmission. “I am concerned about people not following the advice,” Mr Khan told the London assembly. “There are still too many people being witnessed on our streets, in our bars, in our cafés, using the Tube, using our buses.” (link, paywalled)
I wonder who ‘these people’ are … With all that panic buying we can assume that nobody will starve, in London or elsewhere in this country should local politicians like Khan take measures, infringing our liberties, ‘to save lives’. I wonder if the next step will be the issuing of ration books, and of ‘government permits’ to allow one person per house out for shopping as in France.
Let’s face it: we’re in an unholy mess. It’s not of our own making, but we are expected to pull through, on our own. Those of us who are blessed with living in a functioning neighbourhood will – but will our society be the same after this has blown over?