In Depth

‘Ministers fear £6bn cost of Rashford hat-trick’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

1

Rachel Sylvester in The Times

Ministers fear £6bn cost of Rashford hat-trick

on uplifting hungry families

“Ministers might have learnt by now that it is a mistake to ignore the footballer who has become a national hero, was made an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for his campaigning on child poverty, and on Sunday received a special award at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. The 23-year-old striker, seen by many as representing the best of Britain during the pandemic, is as effective off the pitch as he is on it. He has already forced Boris Johnson into two U-turns on free school meals. Having grown up in poverty and experienced hunger as a boy, this is personal for Rashford. But he has also built up a highly professional team around him and established a child poverty task force to promote his cause. He is going to keep putting pressure on the prime minister.”

2

Anthony Costello in The Guardian

How a string of failures by the British government helped Covid-19 to mutate

on a new coronavirus variant

“After Britain’s spring lockdown, infection rates fell, but the government again failed to do what was needed in time to suppress the virus. The government’s poor control of Covid-19 has increased the force of the infection and allowed more mutations to happen. On top of the economic costs of lockdown measures, the UK has now been effectively placed in quarantine by the international community. The prime minister’s repeated dithering, delays and seeming inability to make unpopular decisions have led Britain to have one of the worst death rates in the world. We have now cancelled Christmas and triggered international alarm. We can only hope that we’re not still in this position by Easter.”

3

Ross Clark in The Daily Telegraph

Macron’s guerrilla war on Brexit will backfire on him

on a UK-French spat

“Even if the chaos in Kent caused by Emmanuel Macron’s blockade of the Channel ports dissipates over the next few days, it still needs to be asked: why did France, alone among our near-neighbours, decide in the first place that a ban on freight as well as passengers was an appropriate response to growth of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2? To halt flights and passenger trains, and to ban cars from crossing the Channel, was one thing. But freight? Not at the height of the first Covid lockdown in the spring, when French citizens were confined to their homes and allowed out only if they filled in a form stating their reason, did the French government see it as necessary to cut off freight links with any country. When you are trying to calm the public in a crisis, severing freight links is the worst thing that you can do. It threatens food shortages and encourages panic-buying. Moreover, what threat do lorry drivers really pose?”

4

Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

The quarantine of the UK is about coronavirus, not Brexit

on the closure of borders

“The quarantine has nothing to do with Brexit, nor does it give us a particular insight into the prospects of a Brexit deal... The United Kingdom has been quarantined by countries as far afield as India, Morocco and Israel – none of which, it may surprise you to learn, are member states of the EU. The British government has failed to act quickly in the face of the predicted and predictable consequences of its lockdown strategy and its plans for Christmas, and has created a mess of its own making by opting not to extend the Brexit transition period when it still had the legal ability to do so earlier this year. The variant strain is not some unpredictable crisis, but neither is the quarantine imposed on the UK a consequence of its Brexit strategy, or an insight into the state of the negotiations.”

5

Andrew Feinberg in The Independent

‘It’s sad and pathetic’: Trump insiders say the president’s plans with Sidney Powell leave them baffled and scared

on the last days of Rome

“‘You’d be surprised who the adults in the room are these days,’ quipped one Trump confidante, employing a term once used to describe some of the steadier, more experienced foreign and domestic policy hands who once roamed the corridors of the Trump-era West Wing. The confidante later added that Trump has all but abandoned both the duties of the office he will hold for 30 more days and the aides who would otherwise be helping him carry them out. Instead, he has spent recent days ensconced in the White House residence, watching television, tweeting, and desperately dialling his phone in search of someone – anyone – who can provide him with a way to stave off the public defenestration that will come when Biden appears on the Capitol’s west front to take the oath of office.”

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