A day after coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased in England, how should the government respond to the economic crisis? And could the UK do business with Kanye West in the White House?
Here are five things we learnt from this week’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday:
1. ‘Enjoy summer safely’
After the success of the government’s three-word slogans (you may remember “Get Brexit Done”), Matt Hancock offered up a new one as he urged the country to “enjoy summer safely” – with the emphasis on “enjoy” and “safely”.
Crowded scenes in places like London’s Soho on Saturday night may be causing some anxiety, but he insisted “overall I’m pleased with what happened yesterday, it was really good to see people out and about”.
2. What’s behind the first local lockdown?
While the rest of the country emerges from lockdown, Leicester has stayed put since an announcement on Monday.
It has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the country, with cases largely of working-age adults and linked to the city’s industry.
Mr Hancock told the programme he had “quite significant concerns” about working practices in clothing factories.
The health secretary said businesses breaking the rules could be shut down under health and safety legislation, adding “we’re not just asking nicely”.
3. Nearly 30,000 excess deaths by April 2021
Sir David King told Sophy Ridge the UK faced 27,000 more excess deaths between now and April next year “if the UK is in the same place next spring”.
The former government chief scientific adviser called the potential excess deaths “entirely preventable and absolutely unacceptable”.
Sir David, who chairs the “independent SAGE” group offering competing health advice to the government’s official advisers, argued the UK should be aiming for the complete elimination of COVID-19 nationwide.
4. Labour calls for end to “one-size-fits-all” approach
The government needs to offer “strong support” to the sectors hit hardest by the economic crisis that has accompanied the pandemic, according to Labour’s shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds.
She suggested that targeted measures could mean “we won’t see the kind of mass unemployment that is threatening our country currently”.
“I really say to the chancellor, look, abandon that one-size-fits-all approach, let’s have an approach which reflects the fact that this is an economic crisis which is affecting sectors differently,” Ms Dodds said.
The shadow chancellor backed a wealth tax to provide new public funds earlier this week – but refused three times to say what assets she’d like to see taxed at a higher rate.
5. A new hard border – with Scotland?
Prospective newlyweds might find it a little harder to tie the knot at historic wedding site Gretna Green, after SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford raised the spectre of a hard border between England and Scotland.
Scotland’s success in cutting cases of coronavirus meant it needed “to look at those coming in here and the kind of risks that are there”, and consider taking “appropriate measures”.
The suggestion comes after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attacked the wider UK government’s “shambolic” decision-making on relaxing travel policies.
And a bonus this week – could we do business with President Ye?
It appears we’ve learned to take American stars with an eye on politics seriously, as Mr Hancock said the UK would work with whoever occupies the White House – even Kanye West.
The Trump-backing rapper has announced his bid for president on Twitter, and was instantly backed by billionaire industrialist Elon Musk.
Despite a promise of absolute support for “our relationship with America” from the health secretary, whoever the occupant” of the Oval Office is, President Kanye is an unlikely prospect.
Deadlines for getting on the ballot for 2020 have already passed for some US states, while for others West would have to muster hundreds of thousands of signatures in record time.
Still, there’s always 2024.
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