It's been another eventful week for the Tory government.
As its approach to the pandemic has come under further strain, the drama of Brexit lives on (and on).
What with everything going on right now, it can be hard to keep track of exactly what's happening. So we've summarised some of the most terrible and ridiculous things the government has done this week...
Rule of Six. Medium Alert. R rate. The list of confusing terms being used to refer to cobbled together lockdown rules got longer this week as Boris Johnson unveiled his new ‘Tier’ system.
Comprising of Tier 1, 2 and 3, the idea is that different areas of the country are subject to rules of different tiers, depending on the spread of coronavirus there.
The rules of each tier are garbled (so we can drink in pubs surrounded by other households but not see our grandmas? Ok) but what’s proving more baffling is that they don’t seem to correspond to the existing ‘high, medium and low’ alert system Johnson previously was using.
For example, Tier 1 means an area is on ‘medium’ alert.
Couple that with rules for each tier that either barely change or seem to do a full 180 and people are not happy. That might also have something to do with the fact that we were promised a March to July lockdown meant the government could sort out their response but it’s now October and instead we’re just getting… more lockdowns.
2. When it was revealed that track-and-trace consultants are being paid nearly £7,000 a day
How’s that “world-beating” track and trace system coming along? Not very successfully by all accounts.
That hasn’t stopped Baroness Dido Harding deciding that consultants working on the project deserve a big payout, though.
It was revealed this week by Sky News that individual private sector consultants are bagging day rates of around £7000.
Which equates to year salaries of £1.5m.
That’s a lot of money. Thank goodness we can see where it’s going – right?
3. When Robert Jenrick was caught making a ‘cosy deal’ to get £25m for his constituency
Why don’t we lay this one out and see if it looks less “grubby” (the words of Labour MP, Matt Western) on paper.
This week, it came to light that housing minister Robert Jenrick’s constituency had received £25m in funding (the maximum amount possible) earmarked for 101 deprived areas in the UK, despite the area only being 270th on the list of most in need.
Who approved the decision? That would be fellow Tory MP, Jake Berry.
Berry’s own constituency also received a grant from the same fund – approved by one Mr Robert Jenrick.
Nah, still looks grubby. In fact, it seems awfully like a “cosy deal”, which is how it was described by Labour MP, Steve Reed.
For his part, Jenrick says the mutual award of funding was “totally normal” and denies any wrongdoing.
Well, if he says it’s fine…
4. When it was revealed the Home Office are considering using ‘nets’ to ‘catch’ migrants crossing the Channel
It sounds like something out of a dystopian horror novel but so does coronavirus and Donald Trump, so guess it’s real: the Home Office are reportedly considering using ‘nets’ to ensare migrant boats attempting to cross the English Channel.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Dan O’Mahoney, head of the Home Office’s response to what they call “illegal” crossings (crossing the Channel to apply for asylum is not unlawful) said that nets were being considered as a deterrent.
“We definitely are very, very close to being able to operationalise a safe return tactic where we make an intervention safely on a migrant vessel, take migrants on board our vessel and then take them back to France,” he said.
When asked if the technique was similar to the Royal Navy method of using nets to snag in propellers and bring a vessel to a halt, Mahoney affirmed that is was.
“It’s that type of thing, yes. So safely disabling the engine and then taking the migrants on board our vessel,” he explained.
The proposal was deemed so inhumane, it was even commended by Nigel Farage, a man who broke lockdown in order to yell about migrants supposedly landing at Dover in their droves.
Maybe we could all get a crumb of humanity? Please?
5. When Boris Johnson refused to give children free school meal vouchers over Christmas
Remember during June’s lockdown when Boris Johnson refused to extend a free school meal voucher programme over the holidays so children living in low-income situations could be sure they would have some food and then footballer Marcus Rashford got involved and convinced him to do a U-turn? No?
Well no worries, because now it’s October, we’re going into another lockdown, and Boris Johnson is once again refusing to extend a free school meal voucher programme over the holidays so children living in low-income situations can be sure they will have some food.
Marcus Rashford – who last month was awarded an MBE for his work on behalf of the campaign – is once again pleading for the prime minister to show some compassion.
But this time Boris says there’s nothing he can do. Apparently the country is in a “different position” now.
Indeed – a position where consultants on a failed track-and-trace system are getting paid £7,000 a day but the UK’s unemployment level has hit its highest in three years.
And Boris can’t even give children a £15 voucher for some food over Christmas.