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Just as the main talks on a permanent Brexit agreement are currently bogged down, the EU had begun to panic that the already agreed Irish Protocol was also stuck in the doldrums. The UK government had thus been under heavy pressure to begin tangible preparations to enact the measures agreed in last December’s revised Protocol. Brussels was demanding border infrastructure, computer systems for customs declarations and an office in Belfast to house EU officials who would oversee the customs measures.
Both Wall Street and the City of London are speculating whether the next innovation in monetary policy will be the use of negative interest rates as a deliberate tool. The new Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has changed the Bank’s position from that of the previous Governor, Mark Carney, who made clear that negative interest rates were not a proposition he was seriously considering. The central bank’s Chief Economist, Andrew Haldane, and one member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Silvana Tenreyro, have canvassed the idea.
When the coronavirus crisis first hit the UK, the greatest fear was that it would overwhelm the NHS. Ministers and clinicians had seen the catastrophic impact overseas – in first-rate health care systems such as Italy’s – and worried that hospitals here faced total collapse. Thanks to swift and concerted efforts, that fear has not been realised.
However, it is now clear that Covid-19 has hit hardest in this country’s care homes instead. New data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of deaths recorded in care homes in England and Wales this year is more than double the average from previous years. This is a national tragedy. Families across the country are grieving for loved ones.
Digital contact tracing looks set to dominate the political agenda for the coming weeks, if not months. Without a vaccine, and in the absence of widespread population immunity, the only methods to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 are those of standard epidemic control such as case isolation, physical distancing, contact tracing and increasing hygiene measures.
Dean Godson, the Director of Policy Exchange, wrote for Conservative Home about how the Conservative Party is divided on policy towards China in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. “Nearly everyone now has an opinion on China because of Covid19,” he says. “One measurement of the salience of an issue is the proliferation of party caucuses – such as the Huawei WhatsApp Group and the China Research Group. There is also talk of an alternative to the China APPG, seen by some as insufficiently challenging to the PRC.” Read the article here.
In 2015 the Government excluded onshore wind from the Contracts for Difference support scheme based on concerns from local residents about visual impact. Since then, whilst new nuclear power and fracking have struggled to get off the ground, the cost of onshore wind has continued to fall, Parliament has declared a climate emergency, and the Government has legislated for net zero emissions by 2050.
A new Chancellor of the Exchequer and a new Governor of the Bank of England offer the opportunity of taking a fresh look at not just monetary policy, but macro-economic policy as a whole and the role of fiscal policy within it. A decade after the Great Recession, there are profound questions that policy makers should be exploring.
Since the UK formally left the EU two weeks ago, the two sides have been gearing up for negotiations on the future relationship. The EU is still finalising its mandate, with the European Parliament and member states pushing for a tougher stance than the European Commission’s draft. The Prime Minister set out the UK’s position in his Greenwich speech earlier this mont
Today is the final deadline for university applications via UCAS. If previous years are anything to go by, over half a million hopeful applicants will have gone through the process of filling in their forms, making choices, completing personal statements in the hope of going on to an educational experience that will transform their lives.
Much has been made of Dominic Cummings early year blog-post asking for ‘misfits’, ‘policy experts’ and ‘weirdos’ to join him in the new Government to solve some of the country’s most complex problems.