The Herald on Sunday
Colourful comments by Brown and Boris
This week, former PM Gordon Brown warned of ‘50 years of conflict’ between Scotland and England, while it emerged Boris Johnson branded his Health Secretary ‘f*****g hopeless’
Monday, June 14 Delta variant a ‘bump in the road’ to freedom
HUMZA Yousaf has warned the Delta variant has posed a “bump in the road” to Scotland’s exit routemap amid speculation Nicola Sturgeon could further slow down a return to normality.
The Health Secretary stressed Scotland is “at the very, very early days of a potential third wave”.
He added that the impact of the now dominant Delta variant on the NHS is still being assessed and modelling data into what the peak of the third wave will do to healthcare capacity is being investigated.
Reports suggest that Boris Johnson is set to delay the full re-opening of the economy and personal freedoms in England, earmarked for June 21, until August with case numbers rising.
The Prime Minister is set to outline a revised timetable today and Ms Sturgeon could follow suit when she addresses MSPs in Holyrood tomorrow.
One of the First Minister’s scientific advisers has warned that a full easing of restrictions later this month could still cause “a lot of damage”.
Professor Stephen Reicher said the UK should be wary of “going backwards” as new cases of the virus continued to increase.
Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “I think we’ll hear of a delay, because all the data now points that way.
“In a situation where things are getting worse we don’t know how much worse they’re going to get. We don’t know how many people are going to get seriously ill.”
Brown fearful of ‘50 years of conflict’ over union split
GORDON BROWN has claimed there could be “50 years of conflict between Scotland and England” if squabbles over the constitution are not resolved.
The former prime minister has called on Scottish Labour to restore its reputation with the public and take support back from the SNP.
Mr Brown was pressed over the poor fortunes of Scottish Labour, now under the leadership of Anas Sarwar, during an appearance on Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday show.
He said: “We’ve got to show we’re both the party of social justice and that the Scottish National Party are not delivering that despite all their promises, and we are the party of solidarity.
“In this interdependent world, there is no future in nations that are neighbouring nations fighting each other and I fear 50 years of conflict between Scotland and England if we don’t get these problems sorted out.”
Tuesday, June 15 Pressure on Sturgeon as PM delays Freedom Day
CORONAVIRUS restrictions are expected to remain in Scotland for longer than previously planned following Boris Johnson’s announcement to delay lockdown easing by several weeks.
The First Minister is to tell MSPs today whether plans for the country to enter Level Zero are still going ahead on June 28.
However it is anticipated that Nicola Sturgeon will delay the move to the lowest level of restrictions in Scotland after the UK Government last night announced its so-called Freedom Day in England would now be moved to July 19, instead of June 21, due to the spread of the new Delta variant.
Scotland’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch warned yesterday that the spread of the Delta strain could set the country’s plans back by as much as 10 weeks. In a press conference from Downing
Street, the Prime Minister said last night that the country would never be able to eliminate coronavirus, and would “have to live with it”.
He warned that in some of the worst affected areas of the country, the number of people being admitted to hospital due to the new strain had increased by 61 per cent week on week, and added that it “may be the shape of things to come”.
Scotland desperately needs new industrial strategy, SNP warned
SNP ministers have been urged to develop a new industrial strategy to prevent “devastating” job losses.
Scottish Labour finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said the very existence of Scotland’s industrial base is at risk.
In a letter to SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, he highlighted the scale of job losses facing Scotland and criticised “inaction” by the Scottish Government.
He said: “Without action now, we risk the very existence of Scotland’s industrial base at the expense of thousands of jobs.
“The SNP’s complete lack of a coherent industrial plan has put thousands of jobs at risk and their scattergun approach to intervention has failed workers and businesses time and time again.
“With jobs across Scotland on the line, we simply cannot afford more inaction from the Scottish Government. Today, Scottish Labour is calling on the SNP to work with us, trade unions and businesses to develop a coherent industrial strategy to save jobs and protect our industrial base.”
Mr Johnson’s letter references the proposed closure of McVitie’s.
Wednesday, June 16 Lockdown easing ‘delay’ a bitter blow for business
BUSINESS leaders have expressed disappointment and frustration after Nicola Sturgeon signalled a delay to Scotland’s lockdown easing.
The First Minister said it is “unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from June 28”.
It had been hoped the whole of Scotland would move to Level Zero – the lowest in the five-tier system – from that date.
Instead, Ms Sturgeon said it is likely ministers “will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from June 28 and use that time to vaccinate – with both doses – as many more people as possible”.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the easing of restrictions in England by a month, insisting July 19 would be his new “terminus date”. Ms Sturgeon said the faster-transmitting Delta variant of the virus, first identified in India, is now common across Scotland.
She said there is “no doubt at all” that lax UK border controls contributed to its rise and the country is now “paying a price” for the failure to introduce tougher rules.
As she pledged that all over-18s in Scotland should be given a date for their first vaccination by the end of next week, the First Minister said she hoped the country would be able to “move to much greater normality with far fewer restrictions, as we go further into summer”.
More than six million coronavirus jags have now been administered in Scotland. But in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon stressed more time was needed to get more people vaccinated before mainland Scotland could move to Level Zero.
UK-Australia trade deal has ‘screwed over’ British farmers
THE UK Government has been accused of “screwing over” farmers with a new trade deal after details of plans for meat tariffs were revealed by the Australian government.
The Australians released information on tariffs for meat products last night, which Westminster had not yet disclosed as part of the announcement about the two countries’ new free trade agreement.
Announcing the deal yesterday, Boris Johnson said it marked a “new dawn” and represented “global Britain at its best”.
Westminster officials said the 5 per cent tax on Scotch whisky imports would be scrapped and farmers would be “protected” for 15 years by a cap on Australian meat imports.
However, the Australian government revealed tariffs on beef and sheep meat, which includes lamb and mutton, would be “eliminated” after 10 years.
PPE stocks ran so low at the height of the first wave of Covid in Scotland that there was less than a day’s supply of protective gowns and only 24 hours’ worth of hospital-grade masks left, according to the public spending watchdog.
Audit Scotland revealed that the expiry date had to be extended on FFP3 filtration masks used in intensive care “until supply chains became more stable”.
The watchdog also found that 29 personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts worth a total of £98 million were awarded to new suppliers without competition during the first four months of the pandemic.
Scotland’s PPE stockpile had been developed in preparation for a flu pandemic and Audit Scotland noted that demand triggered by Covid-19 was “unprecedented”.
During 2019/20, NHS National Services Scotland was distributing an average of 5.6 million items of PPE a week, worth £162,000, to hospitals, social and primary care.
Since March 2020, this has increased to an average of 17.4 million items a week costing £3.6m.
At the start of 2020 none of the PPE used in Scotland was manufactured here, compared to 88 per cent now – excluding gloves, which are mostly made in Malaysia.
In its report today on PPE procurement, Audit Scotland said that a huge global spike in demand, coupled with factories overseas closing due to coronavirus lockdowns, led the international supply chain “to falter” by March 2020.
It added: “There were particular pressures on gowns and visors at the start of the pandemic, as these items had not been held in the UK stockpile.
By April 2020, centrally held PPE stocks were very low, with NHS NSS (National Services Scotland) holding less than a day’s worth of stock of long-sleeve gowns and a few days’ of other key items in its warehouses.”