Saturday, April 30, 2022

Music to relax after campaigning: WA Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 21 - Andante

Putting more police on our streets

The latest figures for police numbers confirm that the government is on track to meet the Conservative manifesto promise to recruit 20,000 more police. More than 13,500 extra police officers have been hired across England and Wales in the UK's largest police uplift programme, cutting crime and keeping communities safe.

  • This Government was elected in 2019, having made a promise to to recruit 20,000 extra police officers during the lifetime of this parliament to cut crime and keep communities safe.
  • New figures published yesterday reveal we are on track to meet this manifesto pledge, with an additional 13,576 police officers patrolling our streets, protecting the public and bearing down on antisocial behaviour and violent crime. 
  • This demonstrates the importance of a Conservative Government – delivering on the British people's priorities and keeping our communities safe.

Quote of the day 30th April 2022


Friday, April 29, 2022

Aid for Somalia

This week the UK government announced a new £25 million aid package for Somalia to support over a million people battling drought across the country.

  • After three failed rainy seasons, Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis as half of the population need life-saving aid with the crisis being worsened by inflation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • That is why we have announced a £25 million aid package of food, water, nutrition and emergency health support for Somalia alongside a ground-breaking $1.5 million aid partnership with Qatar. These measures build on the £14.5 million of support we announced earlier this year.
  • The scale of the crisis in Somalia, and the level of human suffering, is truly staggering - we are showing international leadership by providing this support to avert a crisis and save lives.

Tackling terrorism

The UK government has set out plans to further prevent the evolving threat of terrorism as we make sure prisons play their crucial role in stopping those who want to kill and injure in the name of warped ideologies.

  • The threat from terrorism is evolving and several devastating terror attacks have taken place in the UK in recent years – therefore we must adapt our approach in response to Jonathan Hall QC’s report. 
  • That is why we will deliver new measures which will make the referral process for separation centres more robust supported by our new Bill of Rights, give prison governors more leeway to respond to terrorist risks, strengthen training for staff, and invest £1.2 million to target terrorists in prison who should be placed in centres.
  • Tackling radicalisation in prisons is a key priority in our efforts to prevent terrorism and these measures will help the prison service to tackle extremism keeping the British people safe.

Quote of the day 29th April 2022

"A new coal mine isn't the way forward"

Sir Keir Starmer makes clear during a visit to Workington that Labour opposes the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven.

Lest there be any confusion, my quoting this does not in any way indicate agreement.

Andy Pratt, Chairman of Copeland Conservatives, commented that

“Copeland Conservatives are 100 per cent supportive of this development. It will bring significant investment into our area, providing well-paid jobs and opportunities both at the mine directly – during construction and operation – and in the supply chain.

“Furthermore, by accessing a homegrown source of coking coal for the steel-making industry, it will reduce our reliance on imported coal and the damaging environmental impact this has.”

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The final AGM of Cumbria County Council

I attended the last ever Annual General Meeting of Cumbria County Council today at County Hall in Kendal.

Details of the agenda and supporting documents can be found on the County Council website by following this link:

Agenda for County Council on Thursday, 28th April, 2022, 10.00 am | Cumbria County Council

One particularly important item on the agenda was the annual Public Health report, which was about the COVID-19 pandemic, how it impacted the county and how it was handled. This was a particularly good report and you can read a summary of the agenda item here and the full report at

Public Health Annual Report Appendix.pdf (

It made the important point that the pandemic is not over: the vaccination programme is enabling us to lived with COVID-19 without continued lockdowns but we all have to consider how to protect our health and those of our families, loved ones and neighbours.

Quote of the day 28th April 2022


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Vnuk moter insurance law taken off the UK statute book to save motorists and families money

The EU has a set of motor insurance rules which can and does lead to significant increases in the insurance costs for motorists and families. Yesterday the UK parliament passed a law taking this off the statue book, which should have the effect of  scrapping an annual price hike for motorists, which will help millions of people deal with the cost of living crisis.

  • Now that Britain is no longer an EU member stage we do not have to adopt "one size fits all" EU rules if we don't think they make sense in this country or that they place unnecessary burdens on the British people.
  • So yesterday the government passed a Bill through Parliament removing the EU’s Vnuk motor insurance rules from British law, sparing British motorists a possible £50 annual insurance hike and meaning insurance will not be needed for vehicles driven on private land.
  • This common-sense approach will save drivers money and help with the cost of living.

Britain and Poland sign defence collaboration agreement

Yesterday, we signed a contract launching UK-Poland collaboration on a cutting-edge missile system, strengthening and bolstering European security.

  • Poland and the United Kingdom maintain a wide-ranging and important defence partnership, with our forces operating side by side on land, at sea and in the air as members of NATO.
  • That is why we signed a contract with the Polish Government supporting the early introduction of Poland’s future short-range air defence system, Narew, which is at the forefront of threat detection and deterrence and will lead to even greater alignment between our Armed Forces.
  • This will provide enhanced security and defence development for both NATO countries, bolstering European security.

Jack Denvir RIP

Kells resident and stalwart of many community organisations John (Jack) Buglass Denvir collapsed and died this morning.

This will come as a huge shock to many people who knew Jack, who was active right to the end: at an event he and I attended last night he organised a raffle which raised just over a hundred pounds to send humanitarian aid to refugees from Ukraine in eastern europe.

Jack will leave a huge hole behind him and will be greatly missed.

Rest in Peace

Update on support for Ukraine


Today the UK government announced a boost in humanitarian support to help Ukraine’s hospitals under attack, as well as new trade measures to support Ukraine in this ongoing fight against Putin’s brutal invasion.

  • The UK will continue to do everything in its power to support Ukraine’s fight against Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, which includes deliberate attacks on hospitals and indiscriminate targeting of civilians.
  • That is why we are boosting our humanitarian support to Ukraine, sending new ambulances, fire engines and funding for health experts to better equip the Ukrainian people to deliver vital healthcare. This is on top of new trade measures that will see tariffs on all goods from Ukraine cut to zero, providing much-needed economic support.
  • Britain stands unwaveringly with Ukraine in this ongoing fight and is providing military, humanitarian, and economic support to make sure Putin’s brutal invasion fails and Ukrainian lives are saved.

Quote of the day 26th April 2022


Monday, April 25, 2022

Continuing the crackdown on modern slavery

During Theresa May's premiership Britain made huge strides in cracking down on modern slavery, but there is more to do and Conservatives are determined to finish the job. Today the UK government put new measures before Parliament to crack down on modern slavery, harnessing the biggest public procurer in the country to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.

  • The UK government is determined to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from global supply chains, including those of public bodies here in the UK.
  • That is why the government today tabled a landmark amendment to the Health and Care Bill – helping to ensure the NHS, which is the biggest public procurer in the country, is not buying or using goods or services produced by or involving any kind of slave labour.
  • This is a significant step forward in our mission to crack down on the evils of modern slavery wherever it is found – protecting victims and ensuring our procurement processes are a force for good around the world.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine

Yesterday the Prime Minister spoke with the UN Secretary-General, condemning Putin’s blatant aggression against the people of Ukraine and continuing to support humanitarian efforts.

  • Putin continues to wage an illegal war in Ukraine, but is now changing his tactics and besieging Ukrainian cities in the East of Ukraine.
  • Yesterday the Prime Minister spoke with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, ahead of the Secretary-General’s visit to Russia on Tuesday, discussing the devastating attacks by Russian forces on Mariupol and Kherson, highlighting the need for a ceasefire and global solidarity to help Ukraine defend itself.
  • Britain and our partners stand alongside Ukraine – supporting them to defend themselves against Russian aggression and helping to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation for the Ukrainian people.

Reforming football

The government is implementing all the recommendations for the fan-led review into football, and has today announced reforms including a new independent regulator, to put fans at the heart of football. 

  • Football is nothing without its fans and for too long the football authorities have collectively been unable to tackle some of the biggest issues in the game.
  • That is why we conducted the fan-led review promised in our manifesto, chaired by Tracey Crouch. Today we have endorsed every one of its ten strategic recommendations, including: establishing a new regulator, which will have power to investigate and sanction clubs in English football who break financial and other rules; and a new owners test will be introduced to give fans more say in the running of clubs.
  • We are making sure there is a greater role for fans in the day-to-day running of the football clubs they love – protecting clubs and the central role they play as vital assets for their local communities.

ANZAC day 2022 - lest we forget.

One hundred and seven years ago today the Gallipoli landings took place.

The 25th of April is remembered in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC day when the heroes of the Australian and New Zealand regiments who took part in those landings are remembered.

We should never forget their sacrifice, as UK Defence secretary Ben Wallace said today.

We should also remember the other heroes of those landings - from the Irish Regiments from Dublin and Munster, from India, the Gurkha Rifles, the Jewish legion, the Hampshires, and the Lancashire Fusiliers who famously won six Victoria Crosses before breakfast in the action - but for which they and all the units who took part paid a terrible price.

We will remember them.

Quote of the day 25th April 2022


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Freda Hitchen RIP

Freda Hitchen, the wife of Keith Hitchen who is currently chairman of the Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council and has served the community of West Cumbria for many years in many capacities, passed away yesterday after a long illness.

Thoughts and prayers are with Keith and their family at this sad time.

Rest in Peace.

Helping the poorest countries in the world deal with the impact of the war in Ukraine

This week, Liz Truss, Britain's Foreign Secretary announced the largest ever World Bank financial commitment to low income countries, supporting countries faced with significant economic hardship resulting from Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.  

  • Russia’s bombardment across Ukraine has brought exports from the world’s breadbasket almost entirely to a halt, leading to steep price rises and jeopardising livelihoods across the globe.
  • The cost of living crisis is a world problem, which was already an issue around the planet even before Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, but the war has made it even worse. It is bad enough in rich countries like Britain, it is worse still for the poorest of the poor in some of the worlds's least affluent countries. 
  • That is why the UK has led by stepping up our support through the World Bank, securing the largest ever financial commitment to low income countries as well as almost $1 billion in loan guarantees, allowing the Bank to lend more to Ukraine without taking resources away from the rest of the world. 
  • Despite Russia’s refusal to take responsibility for its actions, the UK and World Bank partners will continue delivering for and protecting the people of Ukraine and the wider world.  

Support for Ukraine continued

Yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke with President Zelenskyy, condemning Russia’s appalling attacks against civilian targets in the Donbas and confirming further defensive military aid.

  • The depravity of Russia’s continued assault against civilian targets in Ukraine is plain for all to see and Britain remains steadfast in our commitment to Ukraine’s fight for freedom. 
  • As I travel round Copeland I have seen a large number of households displaying Ukranian flags or messages of support for the bravery of the defenders of Ukraine, from Mirehouse to Moor Row and from Bigrigg to Bransty. It is clear that the struggle of the people of Ukraine to defend their homeland and freedom has struck a chord with many people up and down the UK.  
  • The Prime Minister spoke with President Zelenskyy again yesterday, confirming more defensive military support to counter Russia’s horrific attacks against innocent civilians in the Donbas, as well as confirming the reopening of the UK’s embassy in Kyiv next week, demonstrating our unwavering support with the Ukrainian people. 
  • The UK and our allies will not watch passively as Putin carries on this onslaught and will continue providing all necessary military and humanitarian support to help Ukraine defend itself. 

Sunday music spot to lift spirits on "Low Sunday:" John Stainer's "I Saw the Lord"

The Sunday after Easter is sometimes nicknamed "Low Sunday" as attendance at church may seem lower after peak attendance the previous week. 

So here is a music spot which definately isn't low: Stainer's "musical battle" as Simon Lindley once described it, "I saw the Lord."

Support for Ukraine

This week the Chancellor rallied further economic assistance for Ukraine during IMF Meetings, leading the international response to the devastating invasion of Ukraine.

  • The UK is unwavering in our support to the people of Ukraine and has committed to make over $2 billion of financial, humanitarian and military assistance available to Ukraine.
  • On Thursday, the Chancellor called on international colleagues to step up, deliver and go further and faster in their economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine during this week’s International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington D.C., as he reiterated our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.
  • It is more important than ever that we coordinate our response to Putin’s devastating invasion of Ukraine with international partners – Britain is taking a prominent role in these efforts and doing everything we can to support the people of Ukraine.

Quote of the day 24th April 2022


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Further sanctions against the Putin regime

This week the UK government announced new sanctions against Putin’s war leaders and further trade sanctions against Russia, ratcheting up the pressure on Putin and his regime.

  • The depravity of Russia’s assault on the people of Ukraine is plain for all to see and the UK is unyielding in our support for Ukraine and in holding Putin and his regime to account.
  • That is why we announced a new round of sanctions targeting both the Generals committing atrocities on the front line, as well as individuals and businesses supporting Putin’s military. We also introduced further trade sanctions against Russia, bringing the total import tariffs and bans on Russian goods to over £1 billion.
  • We are taking every opportunity we can to ratchet up the pressure and isolate the Russian economy, while targeting those with blood on their hands.

Britain and India

This week the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of the UK-India partnership for global peace and security during his visit to New Delhi, delivering a more secure and prosperous future for both our peoples.

  • The world faces growing threats from autocratic states which seek to undermine democracy, choke off free and fair trade and trample on sovereignty.
  • That is why the Prime Minister met Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi this week for high-level talks on defence, diplomacy and trade – including how the UK can work with India to boost security in the Indo-Pacific, as well as new cooperation on clean and renewable energy.
  • The UK’s partnership with India is a beacon in these stormy seas and greater cooperation will deliver a more secure and prosperous future for both our peoples.

Music to relax after campaigning: Jean Sibelius, "Finlandia"

A great day's campaigning today: Out and about this morning in part of my ward, delivering leaflets and meeting the friendly residents of the Mirehouse estate with Trudy Harrison MP, Martin Barbour and Oliver Dorgan: later on Oliver and myself went to support Martin in Distington, part of his patch, and again had a friendly reception.

"Finlandia" was written by Sibelius as part of a series of events marking Finland's resistance to Russian oppression. Finland being a democratic country which has on more than one occasion had to defend itself against aggression from a Russian tyrant, this piece seems particularly appropriate at this time as the brave people of Ukraine are making a similar stand.

Happy St George's Day


Quote of the day 23rd April 2021


Friday, April 22, 2022

Tackling the backlog of court cases

This week it has been announced the Crown Court will work at full capacity as the government lifts the limit on the number of days it can sit for a second year, which should address and reduce the backlog of cases and help ensure victims get the justice they deserve. 

  • We are tackling the courts backlog caused by the covid-19 pandemic, investing in the criminal justice system and establishing Nightingale courtrooms to increase capacity in our courts.
  • The government has confirmed the lifting of the limit on the number of days the Crown Court can sit for an unlimited number of days in the new financial year, building on a raft of measures to cut backlogs in the courts, including increased spending on criminal legal aid by £135 million annually.
  • Getting the Covid Court Backlog down is a key priority for us as we work to ensure victims and their families get the swift access to justice that they deserve.

Quote of the day 22nd April 2022


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Second quote of the day 21st April 2021


This was the Scottish government's response after the Auditor general was sharply critical of the lack of proper documentation for a £240m ferry contract.

The ferries are years behind schedule and two-and-a-half times over budget.

A BBC report on the Auditor's recommendations can be found by following this link:

Fuller review into ferries deal needed, MSPs told - BBC News

Climate and sustainability education

 Today the government announced new plans detailing how the UK will lead the way in climate and sustainability education as we work to deliver a greener world for future generations.

  • Britain is leading the world on climate change, setting ambitious targets on net zero and working to ensure all parts of our society are working together to protect the environment.
  • Britain will go another step further by launching a Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, including the creation of a new GCSE in natural history and carbon literacy training for school staff, ensuring the UK education sector will be a world leader in climate change by 2030.
  • We are delivering a better, safer, greener world for future generations and education is one of our key weapons in this fight, ensuring young people can learn about tackling climate change.

£1 billion of trade announced between Britain and India

Today £1 billion of new commercial deals have been announced as part of the Prime Minister's landmark visit to India, delivering jobs and growth across the UK. 

  • As an independent trading nation Britain able to deepen our partnerships with key trading nations around the world. 
  • This has made possible £1 billion of new investments, creating 11,000 jobs, through a raft of commercial agreements, establishing a new era in the UK and India’s trade, investment and technology partnership, boosting links with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
  • There are vast possibilities for what the UK and India can achieve together, and our powerhouse partnership is delivering jobs and growth as well as opening exciting opportunities for UK exporters.

Quote of the day 21st April 2022


"I am so old that I can remember when other people's achievements were considered to be an inspiration, rather than a grievance" (Thomas Sowell, American economist, who was born in 1930)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Britain and Indonesia

This week the UK government announced a major new partnership with Indonesia, turbocharging our trade, tech and security ties as we unleash the benefits of Brexit.

  • Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, a strong democracy, and a vibrant economy – so it is right that we seek to further strengthen our ties to defend freedom, peace and stability.
  • That is why the Conservative government has agreed a major new partnership with Indonesia, which will increase cooperation across a range of important areas from trade and investment, to counterterrorism and cyber security, while boosting our defence relations with new defence cooperation, joint training, and new jungle warfare exercises with the British Army.
  • Deeper ties are a win-win for both our nations, delivering jobs and opportunities for British people while ensuring an open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Towards self-driving vehicles

Today the government has announced changes to The Highway Code to ensure the first self-driving vehicles are safely introduced on UK roads – making it easier to travel while boosting economic growth across the nation. 

  • Future driving technology could ease congestion, cut emissions, and reduce collisions caused by human error – so it is right that we clarify the rules surrounding self-driving cars so they can be safely introduced on UK roads.
  • That is why the government is are setting out changes to The Highway Code, which will ensure motorists are ready to resume control of a self-driving vehicle in a timely way, continue to prohibit mobile-phone use in vehicles, while allowing drivers to view content on in-built screens if a car is in self-drive mode.
  • These reforms will pave the way for safer and more efficient travel while boosting economic growth across the nation and securing Britain’s place as a global science superpower.

Protecting consumers and reinforcing competition


I agree with Thomas Sowell, and that's why, if a government wants to protect consumers, strengthening competition is usually the best thing it can do.

So I was pleased to see that today the UK government has announced new rules to clamp down on business practices that stifle competition – protecting consumers’ hard-earned cash while levelling the playing field for businesses that trade fairly. 

  • Consumers deserve better than to visit highly-rated businesses only to find poor service, and businesses deserve protection from rogue traders that undermine them – so it is right that we reform the rules to end unfair business practices. 
  • That is why the government is introducing new reforms to crack down on stifling business practices, which will make it illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review, easier for consumers to opt out of subscriptions, and create new safeguards for customers’ money in prepayment schemes. 
  • These reforms will ensure consumer protections keep pace with a modern, digitised economy while allowing competition to thrive – meaning better products, greater choice, and lower prices.  

Britain and India

This week, the Prime Minister will visit India for the first time, advancing our long-term partnership for peace and prosperity and driving progress in Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

  • As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that leading democracies stick together and forge partnerships for the future. 
  • That is why the Prime Minister will visit India this week, driving progress in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations launched earlier this year and delivering on the things that really matter to the people of both our great nations – from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence. 
  • We are leveraging our  trade opportunities with India’s growing economy, driving down commodities for consumers, opening opportunities for UK businesses and creating high-wage, high-skill jobs.

Quote of the day 20th April 2022


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Action on healthy lungs

Today, the government announced an additional 20 NHS lung truck sites, offering life-saving health checks and ensuring hundreds of people get an earlier diagnosis.   

  • Thanks to our mobile NHS mobile trucks, 600 people across the country have been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier. 
  • The government has now pledged a further 20 NHS lung truck sites with capacity to invite 750,000 more people at increased risk of lung cancer, in efforts to catch thousands more cancers at an earlier stage. 
  • This community scheme will ensure hundreds of people get an earlier diagnosis, allowing them to get treatment as soon as possible while supporting the NHS to bust the Covid backlog. 

The online safety bill

Today, the Online Safety Bill returned to the House of Commons – the first legislation of its kind in the world protecting children from harmful content online. 

  • For too long, platform growth has been prioritised above all else, leaving children exposed to harmful and inappropriate content online. 
  • So the government has committed to do more to protect children online through our world-leading Online Safety Bill. Under the Bill, platforms will be required under law to protect children and young people from all sorts of harm, from the most abhorrent child abuse to cyberbullying, to accessing pornography. 
  • The Bill will also protect freedom of speech by ensuring social media companies can no longer arbitrarily silence or cancel those they do not agree with - without any need for explanation or justification.

The Great British Rail sale

The government has announced over one million half price rail tickets in the first ever Great British Rail Sale, cutting the cost of rail travel and helping to connect friends and families across the country.   

  • We all recognise the extra difficulties families face following the global increase in the cost of living and rising inflation – and the Conservatives want to help however we can. 
  • That is why from 10am today, the government is slashing the price of over 1 million rail tickets by up to 50 per cent – meaning journeys such as York and Leeds will cost just £2.80; London to Edinburgh just £22; and Manchester to Newcastle just £10.30. 
  • This will help families with the cost of living – while encouraging people back onto our railways to visit new places and see their families and friends. 

Postal votes go out for Cumberland local election

Postal votes were sent out today for the initial local elections for the new Cumberland unitary authority and should be dropping through letterboxes from tomorrow and the rest of this week.

If you are a postal voter in Cumbria and have not received your postal vote by the weekend it is probably worth chasing your local council electoral registration office.

Quote of the day 19th April 2022


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Music to relax after campaigning: "PIFA" pastoral symphony from Handel's Messiah

Quote of the day 16th April 2022

 "Our compassion may be infinite but our capacity is not."

(PM Boris Johnson explaining the need for the new UK/Rwanda partnership and to break the business model of the people-smugglers who continue to put the lives of vulnerable people at risk by putting them on small boats to make unsafe attempts to cross the English Channel)

Friday, April 15, 2022

The PM's speech on migration, helping genuine refugees, and the new partnership with Rwanda

Here is the text of the speech the Prime Minister made yesterday explaining what Britain is doing to find homes for refugees - Britain has welcomed more than 185,000 men, women and children who were genuine refugees since 2015 - but how we also need to crack down on and destroy the business model of the people-smugglers.

"For centuries, our United Kingdom has had a proud history of welcoming people from overseas, including many fleeing persecution.

My own great-grandfather came from Turkey in fear of his life, because our country offered sanctuary for his outspoken journalism.

And when you look back over the centuries as people have come seeking refuge or simply in search of somewhere to build a better life, you see this is the very stuff our history is made of.

  • From the French Huguenots,
  • to the Jewish refugees from Tsarist Russia,
  • to the docking of the Empire Windrush,
  • to the South Asians fleeing East Africa,

to the many, many others who have come from different countries at different times for different reasons,

all have wanted to be here because our United Kingdom is a beacon of openness and generosity, and all in turn have contributed magnificently to the amazing story of the UK.

Today that proud history of safe and legal migration is ultimately responsible 

  • for many of those working in our hospitals and on the front line of our response to the pandemic, for more than 60 per cent of the England football team at the final of Euro 2020, 
  • for many of our country’s leading figures in the worlds of business, art and culture, 
  • and, I’m pleased to say, for ever growing numbers of people serving in public life, including colleagues of mine like Nadhim Zahawi who escaped with his family from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Dominic Raab, whose Jewish father came to Britain from Czechoslovakia to escape Nazi Germany, and Priti Patel, whose family fled persecution in Uganda.

So I’m proud that this government has continued the great British tradition of providing sanctuary to those in need, in fact, doing more to resettle vulnerable people in the UK - through safe and legal routes - than any other government in recent history.

Since 2015 we have offered a place to over 185,000 men, women and children seeking refuge, more than the entire population of Sunderland and more than any other similar resettlement schemes in Europe.

This includes almost 100,000 British Nationals Overseas threatened by draconian security laws in Hong Kong, 20,000 through our Syrian scheme, 13,000 from Afghanistan and to whom we owe debts of honour, and around 50,000 Ukrainians.

And we are not only supporting British nationals and those settled in the UK to bring potentially hundreds of thousands of their extended family from Ukraine, we are also welcoming unlimited numbers of refugees from that conflict, as the British people open their homes, in one of the biggest movements of refugees to this country that we have ever known.

And as we work with local authorities and the devolved administrations to welcome those coming from Ukraine into our communities, we will also find accommodation across our whole United Kingdom for all those who have come here previously but who are currently in hotels, because it makes absolutely no sense for the taxpayer to foot those bills, running to almost £5 million a day, with the sum total of those we accommodate being concentrated in just a third of local authorities.

It is controlled immigration, through safe and legal routes, which enables us to make generous offers of sanctuary while managing the inevitable pressures on our public services, such that we can give all those who come here the support they need to rebuild their lives, to integrate and to thrive.

But the quid pro quo for this generosity, is that we cannot sustain a parallel illegal system.

Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not.

We can’t ask the British taxpayer to write a blank cheque to cover the costs of anyone who might want to come and live here.

Uncontrolled immigration creates unmanageable demands on our NHS and our welfare state, it overstretches our local schools, our housing and public transport, and creates unsustainable pressure to build on precious green spaces.

Nor is it fair on those who are seeking to come here legally, if others can just bypass the system.

It’s a striking fact that around seven out of ten of those arriving in small boats last year were men under 40, paying people smugglers to queue jump and taking up our capacity to help genuine women and child refugees.

This is particularly perverse as those attempting crossings, are not directly fleeing imminent peril as is the intended purpose of our asylum system.

They have passed through manifestly safe countries, including many in Europe, where they could - and should - have claimed asylum.

It is this rank unfairness of a system that can be exploited by gangs, which risks eroding public support for the whole concept of asylum.

The British people voted several times to control our borders, not to close them, but to control them.

So just as Brexit allowed us to take back control of legal immigration by replacing free movement with our points-based system, we are also taking back control of illegal immigration, with a long-term plan for asylum in this country.

It is a plan that will ensure the UK has a world-leading asylum offer, providing generous protection to those directly fleeing the worst of humanity, by settling thousands of people every year through safe and legal routes.

And I emphasise this. 

So whether you are fleeing Putin or Assad, our aim is that you should not need to turn to the people smugglers or any other kind of illegal option.

But to deliver it, we must first ensure that the only route to asylum in the UK is a safe and legal one, and that those who try to jump the queue, or abuse our system, will find no automatic path to settlement in our country, but rather be swiftly and humanely removed to a safe third country or their country of origin.

And the most tragic of all forms of illegal migration, which we must end with this approach, is the barbaric trade in human misery conducted by the people smugglers in the Channel.

Before Christmas 27 people drowned, and in the weeks ahead there could be many more losing their lives at sea, and whose bodies may never be recovered.

Around 600 came across the Channel yesterday. In just a few weeks this could again reach a thousand a day.

I accept that these people – whether 600 or one thousand – are in search of a better life; the opportunities that the United Kingdom provides and the hope of a fresh start.

But it is these hopes – those dreams - that have been exploited.

These vile people smugglers are abusing the vulnerable and turning the Channel into a watery graveyard, with men, women and children, drowning in unseaworthy boats. and suffocating in refrigerated lorries.

And even if they do make it here, we know only too well some of the horrendous stories of exploitation over the years, from the nail bars of East London to the cockle beds of Morecambe Bay, as illegal migration makes people more vulnerable to the brutal abuse of ruthless gangs.

So we must halt this appalling trade and defeat the people smugglers.

That is why we are passing the Nationality and Borders Bill which allows us for the first time to distinguish between people coming here legally and illegally, and for this distinction to affect how your asylum claim progresses and your status in the UK if that claim is successful.

It will enable us to issue visa penalties against those countries that refuse to accept returns of foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers.

It will clean up the abuse of our legal system, introducing a one-stop shop that will end the cycle of last minute and vexatious claims and appeals that so often thwart or delay removals.

And it will end the absurd practice of asylum-seeking adults claiming to be children to strengthen their claims and access better services.

Crucially it will also allow us to prosecute those who arrive illegally, with life sentences for anyone piloting the boats.

And to identify, intercept and investigate these boats, from today the Royal Navy will take over operational command from Border Force in the Channel, taking primacy for our operational response at sea, in line with many of our international partners, with the aim that no boat makes it to the UK undetected.

This will be supported with £50 million of new funding for new boats, aerial surveillance and military personnel in addition to the existing taskforce of patrol vessels, Wildcat helicopters, search and rescue aircraft, drones and remotely piloted aircraft.

This will send a clear message to those piloting the boats: if you risk other people’s lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison.

People who do make it to the UK will be taken not to hotels at vast public expense, rather they will be housed in accommodation centres like those in Greece, with the first of these open shortly.

At the same time, we are expanding our immigration detention facilities, to assist with the removal of those with no right to remain in the UK.

We are investing over half a billion pounds in these efforts.

And this is on top of overhauling our arrivals infrastructure here in Kent, with new processing facilities now operational at Western Jet Foil and Manston.

But we need to go still further in breaking the business model of these gangs.

So from today, our new Migration and Economic Development Partnership will mean that anyone entering the UK illegally

– as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1st – may now be relocated to Rwanda.

This innovative approach – driven our shared humanitarian impulse and made possible by Brexit freedoms – will provide safe and legal routes for asylum, while disrupting the business model of the gangs, because it means that economic migrants taking advantage of the asylum system will not get to stay in the UK, while those in genuine need will be properly protected, including with access to legal services on arrival in Rwanda, and given the opportunity to build a new life in that dynamic country, supported by the funding we are providing.

The deal we have done is uncapped and Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead.

And let’s be clear, Rwanda is one of the safest countries in the world, globally recognised for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants.

Later this year it will welcome leaders from across the Commonwealth, and before the pandemic, in 2018, the IMF said Rwanda was the world’s fourth fastest growing economy.

We are confident that our new Migration Partnership is fully compliant with our international legal obligations, but nevertheless we expect this will be challenged in the courts, and if this country is seen as a soft touch for illegal migration by some of our partners, it is precisely because we have such a formidable army of politically motivated lawyers who for years who have made it their business to thwart removals and frustrate the Government.

So I know that this system will not take effect overnight, but I promise that we will do whatever it takes to deliver this new approach, initially within the limits of the existing legal and constitutional frameworks, but also prepared to explore any and all further legal reforms which may be necessary.

Because this problem has bedevilled our country for too long and caused far too much human suffering and tragedy, and this is the government that refuses to duck the difficult decisions, this is the government that makes the big calls, and I profoundly believe there is simply no other option.

And I say to those who would criticise our plan today, we have a plan; what is your alternative?

I know there are some who believe we should just turn these boats back at sea.

But after much study and consultation – including with Border Force, the police, national crime agency, military and maritime experts, to whom I pay tribute for all the incredible work that they do dealing with this problem as things stand – it’s clear that there are extremely limited circumstances when you can safely do this in the English Channel.

And it doesn’t help that this approach, I don’t think, would be supported by our French partners, and relying solely on this course of action is simply not practical in my view.

I know there are others who would say that we should just negotiate a deal with France and the EU.

And we have made repeated and generous offers to our French friends and we will continue to press them and the EU for the comprehensive returns agreement that would solve this problem.

We remain grateful to the gendarmes on the beach, for the joint intelligence work and the co-operation that has stopped thousands of boats.

We would like to deepen that work and we continue to believe that a deal with France and the EU is in the national interest of all our countries.

But we must have our own framework for full sovereignty over our borders and we must find a way to stop these boats now not lose thousands more lives while waiting for a deal that just doesn’t exist.

And I know there will be a vocal minority who will think these measures are draconian and lacking in compassion.

I simply don’t agree.

There is no humanity or compassion in allowing desperate and innocent people to have their dreams of a better life exploited by ruthless gangs, as they are taken to their deaths in unseaworthy boats.

And there is no humanity or compassion in endlessly condemning the people smugglers, but then time and again ducking the big calls needed to break the business model of the gangs and stop these boats coming.

And there is no humanity or compassion in calling for unlimited safe and legal routes, offering the false hope of asylum in the UK to anyone who wants it, because that is just unsustainable.

There are currently 80 million displaced people in the world, many in failed States where governments can’t meet their aspirations.

In an era of mobile connectivity they are a call or a text away from potentially being swept up in the tide of people smuggling.

The answer cannot be for the UK to become the haven for all of them.

That is a call for open borders by the back door, a political argument masquerading as a humanitarian policy.

Those in favour of this approach should be honest about it and argue for it openly.

We reject it, as the British people have consistently rejected it at the ballot box - in favour of controlled immigration.

We simply cannot have a policy of saying anyone who wants to live here can do so. We’ve got to be able to control who comes into this country and the terms on which they remain.

And we must do this in the spirit of our history of providing refuge.

And in that way we can more than play our part in offering sanctuary to thousands fleeing persecution.

But then of course other countries must play their part too.

And that is what I think is most exciting about the partnership we have agreed with Rwanda today because we believe it will become a new international standard in addressing the challenges of global migration and people smuggling.

So I am grateful for Rwanda’s leadership and partnership and we stand ready to work with other nations on similar agreements, as well as wider reforms to the international asylum framework.

As I say,

  • we will continue to work with our French friends to tackle the gangs,
  • we will continue to lead co-operation with crime and intelligence partners across Europe,
  • we will continue to seek a returns agreement with the EU or with France.

But in the meantime, and for the foreseeable future, we need this new approach.

The people smugglers are undermining confidence in our borders.

They are betraying all those who do the right thing who try to come here legally – through forms of migration or the safe and legal routes provided for refuge.

They are undermining the natural compassion and goodwill that people have towards refugees in this country.

And they are endangering human life day after day.

And though the way ahead will be hard and though we can expect many challenges and many obstacles to be thrown up against this plan I believe this plan is the right way forward because the people smugglers must be stopped in order to save countless lives;

and because tackling illegal migration is precisely the way to sustain a safe, legal and generous offer of sanctuary to those in need, that is in the very best traditions of this country and the values we stand for in the world."

(Boris Johnson)

Good Friday music spot: O sacred head, sore wounded (J.S. Bach)

Quote of the day for Good Friday 2022


Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Shared Prosperity Fund

This week the government published the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Prospectus, allocating £2.6 billion of funding to all parts of the UK to help spread opportunity and level up the country.

  • This fund will empower those who know their communities best to make local funding decisions.
  • Details have been published of £2.6 billion allocated to local areas through the Shared Prosperity Fund, delivering on our commitment to match previous EU funding but slashing bureaucracy and making the fund more flexible and locally led - with local leaders having greater discretion on how to use the fund to deliver on local priorities.

Maundy Thursday music spot: Go to dark Gethsemane (J. S. Bach)

The Economist interviews Tony Blair about Putin and the Ukraine War

I am no fan of Tony Blair, either as a human being or as a political leader, and I am glad that the Editor-in-Chief of the Economist did not shy away from asking him some tough questions in this video interview. 

However, no well-informed person ever called Tony Blair a fool: if he had been as good at actually doing something about any problem as he usually was at identifying it and articulating it he would have gone down as a great Prime Minister. 

He has also had the opportunity to form a far better impression of what Vladimir Putin is like than most people in the West. 

For that reason I think this was an interesting and informative interview and would encourage people to view it.

Removing unsafe cladding and fixing other building safety issues

The government has announced a £5 billion agreement with developers which will see industry contribute to fixing unsafe buildings they were involved in building. 

  • Fixing buildings, including unsafe cladding, should not be a financial burden that falls on innocent leaseholders.
  • That is why the government has secured an agreement that will see industry contribute £5 billion to address building safety – with developers committing a minimum of £2 billion to fix their own buildings and up to a further £3 billion through the expanded Building Safety Levy.
  • This marks a significant step toward protecting innocent leaseholders and ensuring those responsible for installing unsafe cladding pay to solve the crisis they helped to cause.

Quote of the day 14th April 2022


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Latest employment figures - Britain's future in Space

The latest figures show employment in the UK space sector has continued to grow, with 3,000 jobs created in the sector in 2020 despite Covid – getting more people into high-skill, high-wage future-proof jobs. 

  • The £16.5 billion space sector is a major contributor to a strong and secure UK economy and will generate thousands of new future proof high-skilled jobs across the country in the years to come.
  • Employment in the sector has continued to grow, with most recent figures showing 3,000 jobs were created in the sector in 2020, despite Covid. We are continuing to support the space sector with the largest ever increase to research and development spending, including increasing the UK Space Agency’s budget, and through delivering the UK’s first National Space Strategy – boosting public and private investment to £836 million.
  • From Spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland to satellite manufacturing in Glasgow, Warwick, and Stevenage, we are supporting new opportunities and jobs for the future across the UK.

Supporting Ukraine

Yesterday the Prime Minister spoke with US President Joe Biden about the situation in Ukraine, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv, agreeing to accelerate their military and economic support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

  • Following the Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv, we remain humbled by President Zelenskyy’s strength and resolve as Ukraine prepares for a further Russian onslaught in the East of Ukraine.
  • The Prime Minister and President Biden agreed to continue bolstering military and economic support for Ukraine, including through our new package of anti-ship missiles and military vehicles, and working with our international allies to apply joint economic pressure on Putin and to end reliance on Russian oil and gas.
  • Britain is taking a leading role with our allies in supporting Ukraine to stand up to Putin’s illegal war of aggression. No dictator like Putin will ever be able to hold down the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Quote of the day 13th April 2022

"I accept in all sincerity that people had a right to expect better."

From the PM's statement and apology on parties at Downing Street. The full text of his apology and statement is as follows:

"Today I have received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police relating to an event in Downing Street on 19th June 2020, and let me say immediately that I have paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology.  

And in a spirit of openness and humility, I want to be completely clear about what happened on that date.

My day began shortly after 7am, and I chaired eight meetings in No10, including the Cabinet Committee deciding Covid strategy, I visited a school in Hemel Hempstead, which took me out of Downing Street for over four hours.  

And amongst all these engagements, on a day that happened to be my birthday, there was a brief gathering in the Cabinet Room shortly after 2pm, lasting for less than 10 minutes, during which people I work with kindly passed on their good wishes.  

And I have to say in all frankness, at the time, it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.

But of course the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.  

I understand the anger that many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the Government I lead had introduced to protect the public, and I accept in all sincerity that people had a right to expect better.  

Now I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people:

  • strengthening our economy,  
  • creating jobs and opportunities,  
  • levelling up the whole United Kingdom,
  • now, of course, ensuring that Putin fails in Ukraine, and easing the burden imposed on hard-working families caused by higher energy prices.

I will take forward that task with due humility, but with maximum determination to fulfil my duty and do what is best for the country I serve."

Boris Johnson

(This statement was published on 12 April 2022.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Music to relax after campaigning: Allegri "Miserere" (the legendary 1963 recording)

Giving the vulnerable access to anti-viral drugs

Today it has been announced that thousands more vulnerable people will gain access to the UK’s second antiviral treatment, as we learn to live with Covid and offer long-term protection for the country’s most vulnerable people.

  • As we learn to live with Covid, it is important that Britain continues to lead the way in using cutting-edge treatments which have already saved the lives of many of the country’s most vulnerable patients.
  • That is why it has been decided to make available trialled access to the UK’s second antiviral treatment, Paxlovid, for vulnerable patients over 50 who are willing to participate in the vital study. Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 88 per cent in previous clinical trials and is already available directly through the NHS to highest-risk patients.
  • Britain has procured more antivirals per head than any other country in Europe, as we know antivirals are key to offering early protections against the virus and helping the most vulnerable to live with Covid

Protecting homes from flooding and coastal erosion

New figures announced today show that 314,000 homes across the UK have been better protected by the government's £2.6 billion investment in flooding and coastal erosion protection, protecting communities for future generations.

  • Britain's £2.6 billion flooding and coastal erosion programme has already provided vital protections, but we know there is more to do to protect businesses and households from flooding.
  • This will building on the £2.6 billion spent between 2015-2021, which delivered more than 850 defences, protected an exceeded target of 314,000 homes, and saved the economy over £28 billion in avoided damages, and will double our investment to £5.2 billion for the next six years – building 2,000 new flood defences and reducing the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent.
  • This investment will help to avoid £32 billion of wider economic damages whilst giving families and businesses peace of mind and long-term protection against the devastation of flooding.