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Almost exactly a year ago, on 16 March 2020, a group of scientists submitted a proposal to the UK Government outlining the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) plan to deliver large scale and rapid virus sequencing capability.
Fast forward to the present day, and the project has delivered whole genome sequencing of the virus on an unmatched scale – with more than 350,000 viruses sequenced at latest count, nearly half of the total sequences uploaded to the global database.
The Government’s post-Brexit “Better Regulation Committee” is reportedly looking at ways to improve on EU regulations.,Policy Exchange’s recent report, Post-Brexit freedoms and opportunities for the UK, is one contribution to that debate.Understandably, most of the focus has been on state aid, financial services and workers’ rights. One area that I think isn’t getting enough attention is energy markets.
New figures show that 2020 was the greenest year yet for the UK’s electricity supply, with nearly 60% of electricity produced by low-carbon sources. Offshore wind is now the driving force behind the UK’s greener grid, growing by around a quarter annually and already providing 17% of our electricity.
Lord Wolfson of Sunningdale, who died this week aged 85, was Downing Street’s first Chief of Staff, and a key adviser in Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle. Here Lord Bethell of Romford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, a close friend of the Wolfson family, pays tribute…
A coalition of NGOs and campaign groups has submitted a complaint to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, regarding the treatment of Muslims in France. In the 22-page long letter sent on 8 March, it is claimed that, “the French government has exploited the killing of Samuel Paty for its own racist, discriminative and Islamophobic agenda.”
Risalat Al-Ikhwan, the London based Muslim Brotherhood weekly bulletin has promoted a hashtag campaign in solidarity with Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. This is a group considered ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s online Wikipedia (IkhwanWiki) includes Salah under the category of the MB’s leading figures in Palestine. The Arabic “I stand in solidarity with Raed Salah” hashtag was being shared online by supporters in February of this year.
“A pudding without a theme” was how Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, speaking in the House of Commons this week, described Theresa May’s 2017 industrial strategy. He had been asked by Greg Clark, who was in charge of what Mrs May had renamed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), why the government had scrapped the strategy. Mr Kwarteng went on to say that the economy was in a very different state from what it had been in 2017, and that the government had “morphed” the old strategy into the new “plan for growth”.
In the autumn of 2020, something remarkable happened. For the first time in any of our lifetimes, opinion poll after opinion poll indicated that independence had become majority opinion in Scotland. As corruption, sleaze, and the endless attrition of the Salmond v Sturgeon saga engulf the SNP at Holyrood, support for the Union has grown again in 2021. But Unionists would be fools to take anything for granted—whether we sit at 48% or 52% it’s not enough. The Union needs to be far more secure than that.
In allowing the Home Secretary’s appeal in the Begum case, the Supreme Court has corrected a misconceived Court of Appeal judgment, which had put national security in doubt and undermined the law Parliament made. The Supreme Court’s judgment is a powerful and welcome, if somewhat overdue, affirmation of constitutional principle and the limits of judicial power.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Swiss German-language newspaper of record, has produced another robust contribution to the debate on the full face veil, in the run up to a referendum on whether to ban the garment in early March. The title, “Burka and Niqab are the emblems of a totalitarian ideology and should be banned”, gives a flavour of the piece. The subtitle reads: “Islamism is not an abstract but a real danger. People are harassed and murdered in its name. Its symbol is the full veil. It has no place in a free society”.