Great Britain

Boris Johnson news – live: Grieving families ‘deserve to know’ when Covid inquiry will start, Starmer says

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that bereaved families “deserve to know” when an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin.

The Labour leader’s comments to The Independent increase pressure on Boris Johnson – under whose watch the UK has suffered nearly 90,000 fatalities – to formally announce an independent inquiry into his government’s handling of the crisis.

Meanwhile, ministers are to propose new laws to protect colonial-era statues, following the toppling of an ode to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said the new legislation will set out the government’s belief “that such monuments are almost always best explained and contextualised, not taken and hidden away”.


Ministers can hopefully start lifting restrictions in March, Raab says

The foreign secretary said that he hoped by the “early spring, hopefully by March”, ministers “will be in a position to make those decisions” about lifting some restrictions “gradually” so the country can “get back to normal”.

This “won’t be done in one big bang, but in a gradual, phased way”, likely “phasing through the tiered approach”, Dominic Raab said.

He said the things that put that “at risk” are the new variants and pressure on the NHS, as he urged people to follow the rules.


Government ‘should’ be able to deliver second vaccine doses within 12 weeks, Raab says

After failing to offer a guarantee that everyone in the UK would receive their second vaccine dose within 12 weeks of their first, Dominic Raab told Sky News: "We absolutely are aiming for that, we should be able to deliver it.

“And actually, when you look at our track record, we’re well out ahead of any other country in Europe, we’re a global leader frankly in rolling out a responsible vaccine, and I think we can be quietly confident.”


Raab refuses to commit to earlier vaccination target

Pressed on whether the government could bring its target to inoculate every adult in the UK by September forward to July, Dominic Raab maintained that the aim is to have done so in nine months’ time.

“Our target is by September to have offered all the adult population a first dose,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. “If we can do it faster than that, great, but that's the roadmap.”


Raab fails to deny reports that ministers considering ‘quarantine hotels’

Asked whether, per reports, the government is considering establishing quarantine hotels for new arrivals, as seen in nations like New Zealand, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News: “We’ve considered all of the possibilities."

Asked again to confirm the reports, he repeated that all measures were being looked at, adding: “In terms of enforcement, we’re going to be strengthening the checks both at the border – so when people come in to make sure they’ve filled out the passenger location form, that they’ve got that negative test. 

“… And also, because the effect of suspending the travel corridors is that people go into isolation for 10 days, we’re making sure that the Public Health England checks to make sure people are adhering to those checks are also followed.”

He added that the government is “also making sure that we beef up the capacity to make those checks”.


Cornwall to host first in-person G7 summit in nearly two years

Boris Johnson has named Cornwall as the venue for the G7 summit in June, when world leaders including newly elected US president Joe Biden will gather to discuss the world’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

Prime ministers and presidents from the group of leading industrialised powers – the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan – will descend on the five-star Carbis Bay beach resort near St Ives for a three-day diplomatic jamboree from 11-13 June, which will cause enormous disruption but is estimated to be worth as much as £50m to the county.

It will be the first in-person summit of world leaders in almost two years, after last year’s G7 in the US was cancelled and the G20 in Saudi Arabia went online because of Covid-19.

Boris Johnson wants gathering to focus on climate-friendly recovery from coronavirus pandemic


‘Very difficult to say exactly’ when restrictions could be lifted, expert says

Asked when restrictions could end, Imperial College London epidemiologist Azra Ghani told Sky News: "The first thing we need to focus on right now is getting those case numbers down. 

“Really we want to get back to the situation we were in in the summer with relatively low case numbers compared to now, so that we can actually test and trace and reduce onward infections.

“At the same time, we are of course rolling out a vaccine – that’s something we haven’t had up until now and that vaccine rollout is going very well. That will hopefully protect those that are most vulnerable to the severe consequences of this disease.

“But we’ll need to get a balance of these two things in place before we can start to lift restrictions, and it’s very difficult to say exactly when that will be.”


Excl: Bereaved families ‘deserve to know’ when Covid inquiry will begin, Starmer says

Ministers have “failed to learn lessons from the first phase of the pandemic”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

“The tragic result is that Britain has suffered more deaths during the second wave than the first,” he told The Independent. “Every life lost to this virus is a family shattered. The prime minister promised an independent inquiry, and those families deserve to know when it will start.”

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full report here:

Exclusive: Labour leader’s call comes six months after PM pledged probe into pandemic


Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of today’s political happenings.

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