“SCHOOLS are safe and should stay open. The threat to kids is very very small.”
Red tape is “absurd”. Lockdowns “only buy you time”.
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This was bullish Boris Johnson on Andrew Marr Show.
For a moment it seemed the new slimline PM, looking fit as a butcher’s dog, was ready to liberate Britain from PoW status and give the drowning UK economy the kiss of life.
Instead, he heralded a draconian winter-long Tier 5 lockdown until we’ve all been jabbed — around Easter if we’re lucky, and over a year since the bug from China hit our shores.
“It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks which may be tougher,” Boris told the BBC — including, it seems, shutting those same “safe” schools.
Labour leader Keir Starmer piled in, demanding a stringent lockdown by the end of today.
Just days ago we were celebrating New Year with the twin joys of Brexit and a home-grown vaccine to exterminate the wretched virus.
We raised our glasses to this miraculous double whammy while Boris hailed 6,000 big-hearted Sun readers who have so far signed on to our Jabs Army of helpers at vaccination centres.
Today, some of the wind has gone out of those celebrations. Non-Covid care for cancer, heart disease and mental health is back on hold.
Questions need answers. Union militants have declared Covid-camouflaged political war, shutting schools and sabotaging young people’s life chances.
Why are we allowing this?
Yet again, crucial exams will be cancelled. Low-income families and single parents will be hardest hit, struggling with home-learning and unable to afford essential laptops.
Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman warns lockdown kids are already forgetting how to handle a knife and fork, let alone their “three Rs”.
“Children’s lives cannot just be put on hold while we wait for vaccination programmes to take effect,” she said.
Jubilation over our home-grown Oxford miracle vaccine already looks hasty, with Britain pipped to the post by countries including India and Israel, who are powering ahead with our Oxford serum.
We can develop the best vaccines in the world but they are useless until they are jabbed into someone’s arm. We have a target of two million a week. Why can’t we double that?
A blame game is already under way, with Public Health England claiming AstraZeneca is not pumping out enough serum. The pharma giant insists there is no shortage. Who is right?
Once again, state-run PHE seems to have been caught short.
Retired doctors and nurses volunteered in droves to administer the serum as soon as it was approved.
Today, instead of dishing out life-saving jabs, they are tangled in red tape over “radicalisation”, dispute management and fire safety.
MARVELS OF A&E
Why has Matt Hancock taken until now to act? The bug’s new fast-spreading mutant has also caught the lumbering NHS on the hop.
Hospitals across the country are bursting at the seams with Covid patients waiting in corridors and ambulances.
Why did we waste £220million on empty Nightingale hospitals?
They cannot be used because of staff shortages. An astonishing 85,000 NHS staff are off sick or self-isolating — some citing chronic obesity.
Why is the NHS among the worst offenders for civil service absenteeism, which costs tax-payers £400million a year?
Don’t get me wrong. I bow to nobody in my admiration for NHS frontline workers.
Having experienced the marvels of A&E care for a family member twice over the Christmas break, I believe they deserve a round of applause every day of the week.
I can’t say the same for all 5.5million in the bloated public sector — including those militant teachers.
Yet far from making the civil service leaner and fitter, Boris is planning on hiring a million more.
“My commitment to recruit more teachers, nurses, police officers and other frontline workers is unwavering,” says the PM.
“We have made good progress this year, but 2021 will be a year of growth and renewal.”
What happened to his promise to take on the notorious Whitehall “Blob”?
People keep writing Boris off
IT is extraordinary how, with four years to an election, Brexit done and – for all the hiccups above – a miraculous vaccine on stream, people keep writing Boris off.
Our sister paper, The Sunday Times, warns he is losing those Red Wall voters who swarmed into the Tory fold last year and facing a schism with Scotland after the May elections.
Andrew Marr – declaring himself “a Scotsman talking to an Englishman” – wanted to know if Boris was ready to step down quite soon.
Calm down, dears! With the advantage of boundary changes, a rebounding economy and the slow disintegration of the EU, all this sounds a bit like wishful thinking.
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