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On Monday, January 18, 2021, former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption appeared on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s talkRADIO show to discuss the perils of lockdown:

From early last year, Lord Sumption has been a calm, rational opponent of lockdown.

Breitbart has a summary of the three-minute interview clip. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

I am pleased that his stance has not changed:

Lord Sumption, who last month branded lockdowns “profoundly immoral” and “useless”, told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Monday: “We are in the process of turning a public health crisis into an economic, social, and educational disaster.

We didn’t have to do this. One of the problems is that the government has never been prepared at least to acknowledge that it is necessary to weigh up one thing against another. We cannot have both: lockdown and a prosperous economy. The fact is that no country ever managed to reduce deaths by making itself poorer.”

He warned that this will have a long-term, generational effect:

Lord Sumption continued: “What we have is a lot of people in this country that because they are frightened, or in the case of the government because they are manipulative, are only prepared to look at part of what is actually a very complicated problem.

You can’t just look at it as a public health issue because it’s a major economic issue. I’m not talking just about the prosperity of businesses, I’m talking about jobs, and how a generation of young people entering the job market is entering a void and the consequences of that are terrible.

It’s going to live with them for years and years. Long after we’ve forgotten about COVID, they’ll be suffering from the consequences of this. The problem is that emotion is a tool for avoiding difficult choices and the idea that there are no difficult choices — in this case, that the answer is simply to lock down — is frankly absurd.”

Using independent sources, Breitbart supports Lord Sumption’s views about the economy and about the effect on NHS services in other areas:

A survey conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that it is expected that around a quarter of a million small businesses will collapse as a result of the lockdown this year.

Reports since the beginning of the lockdowns have also revealed the cost to the nation’s wider wellbeing as NHS hospitals prioritised COVID care and cancelled other services, including a fall in chemotherapy attendance and early cancer referrals, and people dying on transplant waiting lists. There has also been a rise in people feeling depressed or suicidal.

The following graph shows that lockdown was — and is — not necessary. It shows deaths in England between 1971 and 2020. There was hardly an uptick last year:

Image

LBC’s talk radio show presenter Maajid Nawaz has also been an outspoken opponent of lockdown.

Last Sunday, he put together an exhaustive thread — excerpts of which follow — about the dangers of lockdown worldwide, especially for children:

Lockdown is made for the middle class a) who have houses with gardens and b) who never have to worry about losing their jobs — public sector employees:

Ten months on, this is a never-ending downward spiral, where the rules change every few weeks and are often contradictory. More on that in another post.

Last week proved to be another emotive and passionate one in the House of Commons with regard to coronavirus and Brexit.

This post concerns coronavirus.

On Monday, September 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Rule of Six, which he announced on September 9, came into effect. It sounds rather Chinese.

It means that people living in England cannot meet in groups of greater than six, indoors or outdoors. If we do, according to him, we ‘will be breaking the law’.

He also introduced a new platoon to keep us in line: COVID marshals, to remind us of existing coronavirus rules in England — ‘hands, face, space’.

Recall that Boris said after the December 2019 election that we now have the People’s Government. Hmm.

The UK government is copying a Belgian idea. The Rule of Six reduced their second spike.

Increasingly, Britons have been looking back at Sweden, which refused to lock down. Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. Chris Whitty is our Chief Medical Officer; in May, he said that coronavirus was harmless for most people and most of us would never get it:

Michael Gove MP, a Cabinet minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, made matters worse when he confirmed that under-12s were part of the Rule of Six, unlike in Scotland and Wales, where under-12s are not. With life getting back to normal as school has started again, this came as a blow to many families:

The Telegraph reported that the Cabinet was split on the proposals (emphases mine):

… one senior Tory source said that “half the Cabinet” had doubts about the so-called ‘rule of six’, and it was “pretty hard to find a Conservative member of Parliament who agrees with all of this”.

The COVID marshals are also a problem for police and local councils:

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s plan for coronavirus marshals to help enforce the six-person rule was unraveling as police derided them as “Covid Wombles” and councils said they were a “gimmick”.

Downing Street admitted councils would not be given any money to pay for the marshals, suggesting volunteers could do the job, and said it would be up to individual local authorities to decide whether they actually wanted them.

It got worse, as curfews were mooted:

The Government has discussed going even further with new lockdown restrictions, and has drawn up “a well-developed proposal” for a nationwide curfew which was discussed at ministerial level.

My head spun.

Then the ministerial snitch crowd appeared on weekend news programmes to say that people must tell on their neighbours if they are seen to be violating the Rule of Six:

Political journalist Isabel Oakeshott rightly responded:

I couldn’t agree more. This is supposed to be the People’s Government, isn’t it?

History will not look kindly on 2020 with regard to the measures taken to combat the virus:

I was wrong.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that people should not even talk when they see friends in the street, even at a distance (audio here, thanks to Guido Fawkes, and there’s video, too):

Yebbut, if you DO report what appears to be criminal activity, allegedly, the police do not want to know. Here is a printscreen of a set of comments on a Guido Fawkes thread. I call your attention to the last two. Police would rather pick on mums and their children. Ironically, that was posted on the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Go figure.

A mild-mannered man from Buckingham called talkRADIO to say he would not comply with the Rule of Six because the Government had gone too far.

So did a lady from Brighton, saying that the Rule of Six was about:

control. They’re trying to see how much they can get away with.

Another talkRADIO host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, had a go at Roy Lilley, former NHS Trust chairman. She said:

We are being scared into thinking we have to give up our civil liberties when that won’t save lives. Being sensible will save lives.

The Telegraph‘s Salley Vickers wrote of the restrictions on her and her loved ones:

I would rather risk dying and have the joy of their company than lose that vital contribution to my own happiness.

With the festive season only several weeks away, the Daily Mail‘s Peter Hitchens told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham that the Rule of Six has:

made Christmas an arrestable offence.

Another Daily Mail journalist, Bel Mooney, wrote an editorial for Conservative Woman saying that she was surprised at the amount of resistance she received when she wrote that she would be defying the Rule of Six at Christmas:

in response to Matt Hancock’s sudden, arbitrary and illogical ‘rule of six’ diktat, I wrote a strong opinion piece (at the request of my newspaper) headlined ‘NO, NO, NO! I’m having Christmas for 14 – and no puffed-up Covid marshal will stop me’.

As you might expect, there was a huge response. I never look online, and am not on Twitter (I expect there was a lot of poison swilling around out there). I am talking about emails to me and the newspaper. What interested me was the fact that, if I am to be honest, the antis outnumbered the prosI didn’t expect that from Mail readers.

You can never tell with Mail readers, though. They’re a tricky lot.

Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan and honorary research fellow Tom Jefferson wrote an article for The Spectator against the Rule of Six, saying that Boris must bin it:

At Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, we have spent years trawling through the scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. We are not aware of any study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?

Northern Ireland has taken a more measured approach and not announced any changes to how many people can meet. These disagreements in policy reveal how decisions are being made without evidence. It seems that somebody in government sat in a cabinet office room and said six is a good idea and nobody disagreed

The problems with policy stem from the current cabinet’s vast inexperience: the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now; the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year. The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks. Add to this mix the new chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, who similarly has little or no background in healthcare. Our leaders amount to little more than a Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand.

This inexperience leads to rash decisions and arbitrary policies.

One example is that entire areas can be locked down if they have 50 cases per 100,000 people. Yet the recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.

Lord Sumption, who has been speaking out against lockdown this year, said that the Rule of Six will be unenforceable. I hope he is right:

Tom Tugendhat (Tunbridge and Malling, Con) expressed his concerns about the new rule and rightly wanted MPs to vote on it and similar measures:

It’s unlikely that the House of Lords can help, either. They already have a full schedule. We should thank Lord Lamont for raising the issue of consulting the public, however. ‘SI’ means ‘statutory instrument’:

Monday, September 14

Behind the scenes and well outside of Parliament, an email emerged dated May 23, wherein Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stated he had pushed the most for March’s lockdown:

Guido Fawkes has the full text of the email. I am not sure how Sir Patrick thinks that a vaccine will achieve herd immunity, though.

In the first of the debates on the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill, Charles Walker MP (Broxbourne, Con) prefaced his comments by expressing his dismay about the Rule of Six, the lack of consultation with Parliament and the fining of Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers at the anti-lockdown rally on Saturday, September 12.

Thank you, Charles Walker:

This is short and well worth watching:

Tuesday, September 15

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock poled up to make a statement to MPs about the Rule of Six and testing.

Excerpts follow:

There are signs that the number of cases in care homes and the number of hospitalisations is starting to rise again, so last week we acted quickly, putting in place new measures—the rule of six, which came into force yesterday. We do not do this lightly, but the cost of doing nothing is much greater.

Testing also has a vital part to play. Everyone in this House knows that we are doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation, and I can tell the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country. As we expand capacity further, we are working round the clock to make sure that everyone who needs a test can get a test. The vast majority of people who use our testing service get a test that is close to home, and the average distance travelled to a test site is now just 5.8 miles —down from 6.4 miles last week; but the whole House knows that there are operational challenges, and we are working hard to fix them.

We have seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South, Lab/Co-op), speaking for the opposition, said:

I am grateful for advance sight of the Secretary of State’s answer. That was decent of him.

Yesterday LBC revealed that there were no tests available in covid hotspots, including Rochdale, Pendle and Bradford. Over the weekend in Bolton, where infections are the highest in the country, a mobile testing centre failed to turn up. Meanwhile, in Bury hundreds queued for five hours for a test. In Walsall, a father with his sick child travelled 76 miles to an appointment in Wales, only to find on arrival that tests had run out. Increasing numbers of teachers and pupils are not in school. In hospitals, operations are cancelled while NHS staff are stuck in limbo, waiting for tests.

The Secretary of State blames increased demand, but when tracing consistently fails to reach 80% of contacts, when less than 20% of those with symptoms self-isolate properly and there is a lack of financial security, infections rise. When schools reopen and people return to workplaces and social distancing becomes harder, infections rise. Extra demand on the system was inevitable. Why did he not use the summer to significantly expand NHS lab capacity and fix contact tracing?

Just as demand is increasing, the ability to process tests is diminishing. Post-graduate students working in the Lighthouse labs are returning to university, so why did the Secretary of State not plan for the inevitable staff shortages in the Lighthouse labs? Those commercial pillar 2 labs, The Sunday Times revealed at the weekend, have a huge backlog of 185,000 tests. Thursday’s data revealed that 65,709 test results were not returned by the end of the week. Care home residents now wait an average of 83 hours for their result. The Prime Minister promised us a 24-hour turnaround for results, so what is going on? What is the current backlog and what is the timeframe for clearing it?

We were promised a world-beating system, so why are we sending tests to Germany and Italy for processing? But, most importantly, people want to know when they will get a test and when this mess will be fixed. Today there will be thousands of ill people trying to book a test, only to be told none is available. When will people be able to book a test online again, or has the online booking system been deliberately disabled? When will ill people no longer have to travel hundreds of miles for a test that should be available on their doorstep? When will pupils and teachers out of school get access to testing, so they can get back to school? When will NHS staff have access to regular testing, so they can focus on their patients and not be sitting at home?

We are at a perilous moment. Imperial College estimates the virus is doubling every seven to eight days. We all want to avoid further restrictions or another national lockdown, but when testing and contact tracing break down, the growth of the virus cannot be tracked. The Prime Minister promised us whack-a-mole, but instead his mallet is broken. The Secretary of State is losing control of the virus; he needs to fix testing now.

Many MPs — from both Opposition and Conservative benches — said that their constituents could not get tests.

Even the Speaker of the House tweeted that his constituents were having similar problems:

The testing situation is shocking — as Terry-Thomas used to say in the Boulting Brothers films: ‘An absolute shower!’

On the upside, the British coronavirus jobs situation is improving, thank goodness (more from Guido here):

Wednesday, September 16

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) stood at the Opposition despatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), as Sir Keir Starmer was self-isolating:

She did a good job.

She began by saying:

Many people in the Chamber will think that the battle of Britain is today, but actually we marked the 80th anniversary of those veterans yesterday, and I want to put on record our thanks to all those who fought for our country in the past.

I want to start by reading to the Prime Minister a message that I have received from a man called Keir. Keir was not able to go to work today and his children could not go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results, despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours. Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people are not in this position, and many of them are the very people who were getting us through this crisis, such as the care workers, who I used to work alongside before I was elected to this House. The Prime Minister once earned £2,300 an hour; can he tell us the average hourly rate of a care worker in this country?

Boris was singularly unimpressed, although he had a neutral expression on his face, even when discussing Starmer:

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her elevation. She speaks of the constituent Keir, and I can tell her that—allegedly, apparently—he has had a negative test, and I do not know quite why he is not here. But 89% of those who have in-person tests get them the next day, and we are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get. I think that most people looking at the record of this country in delivering tests across the nation will see that that compares extremely well with any other European country. We have conducted more testing than any other European country, and that is why we are able to deliver tests and results in 80% of cases where we know the contacts.

The hon. Lady asks about care homes, and I can tell the House that today we are launching the winter care home action plan. She is right to raise the issue of care homes, and we are concerned about infection rates in care homes, but we will do everything we can to ensure that care homes and their workers are protected.

On the hon. Lady’s final point, I am proud that it is this Government who have instituted the national living wage to ensure that every worker in this country, including care home workers, is paid substantially more, thanks to the care and the work of the people of this country.

Boris listened attentively and responded sensitively to all the points that Angela Rayner raised until this point, which came several minutes in, when she said:

Infections are rising. The testing system is collapsing. When you are the Prime Minister, you cannot keep trying to blame other people for your own incompetence. We have the highest death toll in Europe, and we are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world. This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave, with no plan for the looming crisis. People cannot say goodbye to their loved ones. Grandparents cannot see their grandchildren. Frontline staff cannot get the tests that they need. And what was the top priority for the covid war Cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.

I suppose that is good news for people like the Prime Minister’s friend who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign, and just so happens to own two grouse moor estates. So Prime Minister, is this really your top priority?

The Prime Minister answered:

While the Labour Opposition have been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis and raising, frankly, issues that are tangential, if not scare stories about what is going on, we are getting on with delivering for the British public. We are not only massively ramping up. She has not contested any of my statistics today about the extent to which this country is now testing more than any other European country.

She has not disputed the massive acceleration in our programme. [Interruption.] I will answer the substance of her question, thank you very much. We are getting on with delivering on the priorities of the British people: getting us through this covid crisis; delivering on making our country safer, bringing forward measures to stop the early release of dangerous sexual and violent offenders, which I hope she will support; strengthening our Union, which in principle Opposition Front Benchers should support; and building more homes across this country and more affordable homes across this country, which she should support. That is in addition to recruiting more doctors and more nurses, and building more hospitals.

I do not think anybody is in any doubt that this Government are facing some of the most difficult dilemmas that any modern Government have had to face, but every day we are helping to solve them, thanks to the massive common sense of the British people, who are getting on with delivering our programme and our fight against coronavirus. It is with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, and build back better and stronger than ever before.

If only.

That day, news of an upcoming curfew in London emerged.

Apparently, the British people don’t have much common sense, after all.

Currently, London has some of the fewest new coronavirus cases (i.e. positive tests, little hospitalisation):

Guido rightly wrote (emphases in the original here):

If this afternoon’s splash from the Evening Standard is true, it is a step too far. The London director of Public Health England (yes, the organisation is still limping on for now, despite the Health Secretary announcing its abolition back in August) has issued a “curfew alert” to the capital through the newspaper, saying residents could face a mandatory curfew if Covid cases continue to rise. A ridiculous suggestion that should be forcefully opposed.

Shutting pubs, bars, restaurants, and just about everything else at an arbitrary hour will obviously do nothing to stop the spread of coronavirus. If anything, the move will be counter-productive – compressing the same number of customers into a shorter time and making social distancing harder still. Or pushing social gatherings into homes not bars, which are thought to be more likely to spread the virus. This no doubt ineffective PHE [Public Health England] nannying should have been dumped when the organisation was. The government need to remember there is a limit to people’s compliance. This might just hit it.

As I write early on Tuesday, September 22, Boris is planning to bring in an England-wide curfew for pubs and restaurants on Thursday. As if the virus will know the difference between a 10 p.m. closing time versus the usual one of 11 p.m. The mind boggles.

Thursday, September 17

Matt Hancock appeared again with another update on coronavirus.

This time, it was about measures taken on lockdown in the North East of England. This includes strict adherence to household bubbles, table service only in hospitality venues and a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.:

Once again, he was straining every sinew, an expression he has been using since March:

The battle against coronavirus is not over, and while we strain every sinew to spring free of its clutches, with winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together once again against this common foe.

Then he announced upcoming plans to make everyone using A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments to make a booking! Good grief:

… we are working to get patients the right care in the right place, by expanding the role of NHS 111. During the peak of this pandemic, we saw millions of people using NHS 111, on the phone or online, to get the best possible advice on coronavirus, helping them to stay safe and, where possible, to stay out of hospital, where they could have unknowingly spread the virus. It is crucial that, ahead of winter, we use this window of opportunity to seek out what worked and build on it, so we provide a better service for patients and protect the NHS. Of course, no one will ever be turned away from our emergency departments in the most serious of cases; however, we have worked with the royal colleges, the NHS and others to develop a better, quicker and more clinically appropriate service for patients by using NHS 111 first.

This is how it works. We will invest £24 million to increase call-handling capacity and to make sure there are more clinicians on hand to provide expert advice and guidance, and we will build on our trials to make NHS 111 a gateway to the emergency care system, providing a first port of call for patients. In future, rather than having to queue in an emergency ward, we are testing that people should call NHS 111 first to book an appointment with whoever can give them the most appropriate care, whether it is a GP, a specialist consultant, a pharmacist, a nurse or community services. Of course if they need to go to the emergency department, NHS 111 will be able to book them into an appropriate time slot. We want to see this approach lead to shorter waiting times and better availability of appointments for patients. We will consult on how its performance is best measured, and, with successful pilots, we will roll out NHS 111 First to all trusts from December.

This is the bit that galled me the most:

The purpose of 111 First is to improve access, including in terms of inequalities in the NHS, by ensuring that people get the right treatment in the right place and easier access if they do need to go to an emergency department, because the emergency department will know that they are coming. It is commonplace now in almost every part of our life to let people know that we are coming. If we are going to do something as important as visit an emergency department, it will help both the patient seeking treatment and the NHS to let them know that they are coming first. That is the principle behind 111 First. It sits alongside 999, which anybody should call in a serious incident.

‘People’s government’, my eye.

Nor is the NHS the people’s health service.

If you have a serious injury, you or your loved ones could be losing life- or limb-saving time by calling 111 or 999.

Based on what I read during the March lockdown, calling 111 was life-threatening. Children calling on behalf of elderly parents were told, ‘If your relative is not turning blue, do the best you can.’

Calling the ambulance service on 999 generally produced this result: ‘We’re overloaded. If you can take your relative to hospital yourself, please do so.’

Over the past few months, I have heard NHS senior executives give testimony to Select Committees. They do not want patients coming in to a hospital, to a GP surgery — anywhere on NHS property.

An absolute shower!

Speaking of absolute showers, Baroness Harding — Dido Harding, a former jockey and failed business consultant/corporate director — gave testimony to a Select Committee, the Commons Science and Technology Committee, led by Greg Clark MP (Tunbridge Wells, Con).

Wow. It was car-crash television on BBC Parliament.

Baroness Harding is, inexplicably, the director of NHS Test and Trace programme.

Greg Clark is no slouch. He pressed and pressed the same question. Did she not anticipate the increase of demand for tests after lockdown lifted?

Finally, she gave the answer.

The Independent reported:

Demand for coronavirus tests is three to four times the number available, the director of NHS test and trace has admitted.

Baroness Dido Harding, who told MPs there was capacity to carry out 242,817 tests a day, said the “sizeable” rise in demand had been unexpected.

Boris Johnson has pledged to raise capacity to 500,000 by next month – but Baroness Harding’s estimates suggest that even that figure would not be enough to satisfy demand.

Even then:

despite images of queues outside Covid-19 drive-in centres, the testing tsar said: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.”

She put the blame on SAGE …

Baroness Harding insisted current capacity had been based on modelling provided by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and suggested that around a quarter of those seeking tests did not have symptoms.

… and the testing laboratories:

Quizzed by the committee chair and former Tory minister Greg Clark on the current issues in the system, she said that the “constraint” in the testing was in processing and laboratories.

On Friday, Sir Jeremy Farrar, a SAGE member and director of the Wellcome Trust, hit back.

The Telegraph reported:

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, who sits on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the body had given “clear advice” that a fully functioning test, track and trace system should be in place

Responding to her comments on social media, Sir Jeremy said he had personally warned that a growing testing crisis was looming.

“Interesting to be blaming Sage,” he wrote on Twitter. “Has been clear, and in the advice, that the UK faced an inevitable increase in community transmission and cases after the summer and needed a fully functional and trusted test, track and trace in place.”

Sir Jeremy posted his comments from a BBC interview with Andrew Marr in June, in which he warned of a “nasty rebound” if steps were not taken to improve testing. He also re-posted an article from May in which he warned that lifting restrictions was difficult even with a fully working testing programme in operation.

The testing crisis deepened on Friday when it emerged that children at four out of five schools are staying at home because they cannot get a test

This coronavirus business will only get worse. Watch and wait.

Part 2 concerns the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill.

It is tempting to refer to the day the UK is leaving the EU as an active partner as Brexmas.

The Sun coined the name during the 2019 election period in the run-up to Christmas. Today, however — the day it will actually take place — feels more like Brexmas to me.

That said, the suffix ‘-mas’ is an ancient one referring to a Mass being said on an important feast day, e.g. Christmas and Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael (September 29).

The Wikipedia entry on Mass explains how the word entered common parlance centuries ago. From there, ‘-mas’ was used for certain feast days:

The English noun mass is derived from Middle Latin missa. The Latin word was adopted in Old English as mæsse (via a Vulgar Latin form *messa), and was sometimes glossed as sendnes (i.e. ‘a sending, dismission’).[8] The Latin term missa itself was in use by the 6th century.[9] It is most likely derived from the concluding formula Ite, missa est (“Go; the dismissal is made”); missa here is a Late Latin substantive corresponding to classical missio.

Historically, however, there have been other explanations of the noun missa, i.e. as not derived from the formula ite, missa est. Fortescue (1910) cites older, “fanciful” etymological explanations, notably a latinization of Hebrew matzâh (מַצָּה) “unleavened bread; oblation”, a derivation favoured in the 16th century by Reuchlin and Luther, or Greek μύησις “initiation”, or even Germanic mese “assembly”.[10] The French historian Du Cange in 1678 reported “various opinions on the origin” of the noun missa “mass”, including the derivation from Hebrew matzah (Missah, id est, oblatio), here attributed to Caesar Baronius. The Hebrew derivation is learned speculation from 16th-century philology; medieval authorities did derive the noun missa from the verb mittere, but not in connection with the formula ite, missa est.[11] Thus, De divinis officiis (9th century[12]) explains the word as a mittendo, quod nos mittat ad Deo (“from ‘sending’, that which sends us towards God”),[13] while Rupert of Deutz (early 12th century) derives it from a “dismissal” of the “enmities which had been between God and men” (inimicitiarum quæ erant inter Deum et homines).[14]

But I digress!

This is how the week unfolded rather quietly — considering that, at 11 p.m. GMT (12 a.m. on the Continent), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will become a non-participative member of the EU until our transition period is complete. We hope that will be at the end of December 2020.

Boris answers burning Brexit questions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made time to answer several Brexit questions from the British public. This short video is as factual as it is entertaining.

Please watch:

British MEPs leave Brussels

The last British MEP (Member of the European Parliament) to attend an EU Council meeting was Chris Pincher on Tuesday, January 28:

Nigel Farage cleared his office:

On Wednesday, January 29, political pundit Guido Fawkes posted a run-down of the closing days of British MEPs’ participation, ‘The Final Day of Brexit’. They got one final vote that day, on the Withdrawal Agreement (emphases in the original):

Most importantly, MEPs will formally approve the Withdrawal Agreement this afternoon, marking the final legal hoop needed to jump through to secure Brexit on Friday. Remain MEPs will vote against the deal, failing to understand they’re voting in favour of a no-deal exit…

MEPs’ final day in Brussels will seemingly be occupied by a lot of singing; with a Green Party MEP planning to encourage a rendition of Auld Lang Syne after British MEPs’ final vote, socialist MEPs meeting up for a family picture and a rendition of the EU’s ‘anthem’, and MEP Magid Magid hosting a party in the Place du Luxembourg featuring live music and DJs. No word on whether, given it’s their last day, MEPs will be signing each other’s shirts…

The vote took place in the early evening:

The week before, the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission signed the UK Withdrawal Agreement for the EU …

… and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed it for the UK …

… therefore, it was recommended that the EU Parliament approve the Withdrawal Agreement:

Guy Verhofstadt’s tweets

Over the past week, Guy Verhofstadt has tweeted about our exit. He is keeping the door open for our return.

I’ve also included a few replies to his tweets:

He waxed sentimental over a Liberal Democrat MEP:

Michel Barnier visits the Emerald Isle

The UK’s chief negotiator representing the EU, Michel Barnier, spent Monday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

He visited Dublin first …

… then travelled north to Belfast:

Perhaps now is the moment to remind everyone that we will always be European. Our beef is with Brussels:

UK to become economic powerhouse?

According to The Express (article link in tweet), Barnier is worried that we could become an economic powerhouse, threatening the prosperity of EU member countries. British commenters say that he has only himself to blame:

Signs look good, at least at this juncture, particularly since the election on December 12:

Going back to Tuesday, January 21, The Express cited findings from the IMF at the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Provided our negotiations go well this year (emphasis in the original):

BRITAIN’S economy is set to power ahead after Brexit, outpacing the eurozone and other major European countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

The findings of two studies published by the the body show the UK is on track for two years of growth and is anticipated to outperform Germany, France and Italy. The economy is expected to expand by 1.4 percent this year and by 1.5 percent in 2021, it said. It marks an optimistic outlook for the UK’s post-Brexit future after last year’s growth was recorded at 1.3 percent.

Celebrations in the UK

Celebrations will be very low-key on January 31.

Big Ben silent

Unfortunately, Big Ben will not be bonging to mark our Brexit.

The historic bell is under renovation at present and unnamed ‘Parliamentary officials’ said it would cost £500,000. Boris and Conservative MP Mark Francois urged the public to stump up with private contributions. This they promptly did, raising £272,000. That still was not enough — I detect overall resistance from our notional betters here — so the money is going to the veteran’s charity, Help for Heroes:

Lights and Union flags in London

On January 22, Guido Fawkes posted the government’s plans to mark Brexit Night in central London (emphases in the original):

The Government has already announced its official plans to commemorate Britain leaving the EU at 11pm on 31st January, however a new victory has been won after minister Nigel Adams signed off on the Union Jack being flown down the Mall to celebrate Brexit. Her Majesty will be delighted given her support for the cause

In addition to the Union Jack flying in Parliament Square, a light display in Downing Street and a countdown clock being projected against No. 10, new intake Tory MP, Dehenna Davison, has spoken of her delight at securing the victory, saying “After discussing this with the Minister multiple times over the past few weeks, I am delighted that he has today instructed officials to ensure the Union Jack is flown down the Mall on Brexit Day”, also highlighting the minimal cost to the taxpayer from the move. Unlike getting Big Ben to bong again…

The flags went up on January 28:

British flags will be flown in Parliament Square.

A red, white and blue light display is expected to be shone on Westminster Palace.

The No. 10 digital countdown clock will be illumined in Downing Street.

New 50p coin

The new 50p commemorative Brexit coin, which was ready for our predicted exit on October 31, 2019, had to be melted down. That was quite expensive.

However, they have been reminted and began appearing this week:

More will appear beginning in March.

The text on the reverse of the coin includes the date January 31, 2020 and reads as follows:

A number of Remainers have tweeted their disapproval and said they would not accept them as change.

Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer of TalkRADIO gave her own riposte to diehard Remainers pining for Brussels. Priceless:

Brexit Party celebration

The Brexit Party is holding a special celebration in Parliament Square between 9 and 11:15 p.m. All are welcome:

Brexit merchandise

There are at least three different types of Brexit-related merchandise on sale now.

Forman’s smoked salmon

Lance Forman was a Brexit Party MEP then switched to the Conservative Party before December’s election.

In real life, he runs his family’s smoked fish business in East London, best known for smoked Scottish salmon. I have eaten Forman’s fish before and it is excellent. His Brexit offer runs until February 29:

T-shirts

Leave.EU are selling commemorative Brexit t-shirts. Wear at your own risk.

They also have mugs:

Tea towel

The Conservative Party is offering a special tea towel with Boris’s election slogan, ‘Get Brexit done’, in past tense:

————————————————————————-

Whatever way my fellow Britons choose to celebrate Brexit Day, I hope they have fun!

I will continue Brexit Chronicles until we are fully out of the EU.

Welcome to another bumper edition of Brexit Chronicles.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Britain’s Supreme Court — formerly known as the Law Lords — decided that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and that MPs should return to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

They did not say that Boris Johnson personally broke the law in this regard, only that the prorogation was unlawful.

That said, this appears to be the first time a court of law has ruled against a prorogation, a fairly common occurrence throughout the history of the House of Commons. This legal decision on prorogation sets a potentially dangerous precedent, although I would be happy to scrap the Labour-instituted Supreme Court and see a return to the Law Lords. Pictured below are the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Baroness Hale:

Baroness Hale, speaking for the Supreme Court, wore a large spider brooch when she read out the decision. Hmm. A spider brooch about the size of a tarantula. Optics, anyone?

She also erred on one of the names in her statement, as Conservative MP John Redwood points out:

Unfortunately, that detail is unlikely to render the decision invalid.

At the time the Supreme Court reached its decision, the Labour Party conference was going on at the time in Brighton.

Before recapping this week’s events, in 2016, thousands of British barristers signed a letter imploring MPs not to enact the result of the referendum. This I did not know:

Now back to the present day.

Be advised of occasional foul language below!

Thwarting Brexit

Leave voters across the country can see what opposition MPs are doing. I reckon more and more voters are tuning in to BBC Parliament to watch proceedings.

Even renowned historian David Starkey has been vocal about stubborn Remain MPs refusing to fulfil the Leave result:

The danger is that if we adopt the Customs Union proposals that Remainers want, we will have far less control over our own trade, currency, armed forces and laws than we did as a full member of the EU before MPs voted to trigger Article 50 (emphases mine):

It’s all been a set up from the very beginning. The UK was only ever half in but after this, if we don’t leave 31/10 they’ll make sure we’re all the way in it right up to our necks. Full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Euro and all!

The Liberal Democrats, led by Jo Swinson, wrote to the EU Commission about Brexit, when only the government in power — currently Conservative — should be dealing directly with them. This was brought up in Wednesday’s Commons session, by the way, so it is true:

The move has not gone down well with some voters:

Note the petition:

Labour Party conference

The Labour Party produced a laundry list of far left policies to discuss at their conference in Brighton.

A teenage vote would keep a left-wing government in power forever. Reason No. 1 not to vote for Labour:

A trade unionist says other policies will be difficult to explain to voters:

Re the abolition of private schools: who is going to pay for the chaos this would cause? The taxpayer. Here’s Diane Abbott, who sent her own son to the private City of London day school:

This would devastate towns where there are private — including what the British call ‘public’ (e.g. Eton, Harrow, Rugby) — schools. Angela Rayner is the shadow education minister. Her name comes up in the second tweet:

Then there was Labour’s protest for a People’s Vote on EU membership. Erm … we had one on June 23, 2016. It was the referendum.

Emily Thornberry loathes England, by the way:

Labour MPs voted twice before the prorogation to oppose a general election, by the way. A general election is also a people’s vote:

Conservative MP James Cleverly, party chairman, has a good, concise summary of Labour’s policies — including their refusal to vote for a general election, when they’ve asked 35 times for one in Parliament. The video is subtitled:

This is what happened at conference. Diane Abbott makes it look as if Boris Johnson never tabled his two motions for a general election before prorogation.

Dishonest Labour — the perfect party for lo-fo voters and a clear danger to the nation:

I hope Labour never again see power during my lifetime. Thirteen years of them (1997-2010) was almost more than I could bear.

Despite the Labour Party conference, which normally produces a positive bounce in the polls, the Conservatives are still ahead. Why hasn’t Britain Elects updated their party leaders photo?

People also want a general election:

Brexit negotiations difficult

The Benn-Burt bill, which received royal assent on September 9 and forces the PM to ask the EU for an extension if there is no deal, has made the Prime Minister’s and the government’s Brexit negotiations very difficult. This was the status on September 21:

Nevertheless, Boris and his Brexit ministers soldier on.

The following took place on Thursday, September 26:

Michael Gove says that the No Deal Brexit committee has been meeting frequently:

Another Brexit meeting, announced yesterday, took place today:

Boris’s statement

Boris gave a statement to MPs at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday about the ‘zombie Parliament’, the longest since the Civil War in the 17th century. Brexit Central has the full transcript. Excerpts follow:

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict and the way forward for this paralysed Parliament.

Three years ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any party or proposition in our history.

Politicians of all parties promised the public that they would honour the result.

Sadly, many have since done all they could to abandon those promises and to overturn that democratic vote.

And after three years of dither and delay – that left this country at risk of being locked forever in the orbit of the EU – this government that I lead has been trying truly to get us out.

And most people – indeed most supporters of the party opposite — regardless of how they voted three years ago — think the referendum must be respected. They want Brexit done, I want Brexit done, people want us out on 31 October — with a new deal if possible but without if necessary.

64 days ago, I was told that Brussels would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. We are now discussing a reopened Withdrawal Agreement in the negotiations.

I was told that Brussels would never consider alternatives to the backstop – the trap that keeps the UK effectively in the EU but with no say.

We are now discussing those alternatives in the negotiations.

I was told Brussels would never consider arrangements that were not permanent. We are now discussing in the negotiations an arrangement that works on the principle of consent and is not permanent.

I was told there was no chance of a new deal but we are discussing a new deal.

And this is in spite of the best efforts of this Parliament to wreck our negotiations by their attempts to take No Deal off the table.

The truth is the majority in this Parliament are not opposed to the so-called No Deal — this Parliament does not want Brexit to happen at all.

Many of those who voted for the Surrender Act a few weeks ago said then that their intention was to stop a No Deal Brexit.

They have said every day since that Parliament must vote against ANY deal at all.

I think the people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on.

They know that this Parliament does not want to honour its promises to respect the referendum.

The people at home know that this Parliament will keep delaying, it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want a deal

The public don’t want another referendum – what they want and what they demand, that we honour the promise we made to the voters to respect the first referendum.

And they also want us to move on — to put Brexit behind us and focus on the NHS, on violent crime and on cutting the cost of living.

That is why I also brought forward a Queen’s Speech. My government intends to present a programme for life after Brexit.

But some members of this House could not stand that either. Instead of facing the voters, the opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran to the courts instead.

And despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in this process for the first time ever and it is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the Court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question at a time of great national controversy.

So we have Opposition MPs that block and delay everything running to the courts to block and delay even more — including blocking legislation to improve and invest in our NHS and keeping violent criminals in jail.

The people outside this place understand what is happening

Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice members opposite are unwilling to move aside and let the people have their say.

They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say, then running scared from the election that would provide them with one.

And worst of all they see ever-more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the party opposite which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “we know best” and thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to overthrow the referendum result whatever the cost.

They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay.

They don’t care if another year or more is wasted arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago.

All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result

I have to confess, Mr Speaker, that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly – and in the most strident terms – demanded an election, I hear them, is the very same party whose members have already this month – not once but twice – refused to allow the people to decide on their next government.

For two years they have demanded an election but twice they have voted against it …

So if in fact the party opposite does not in fact have confidence in the government, they will have a chance to prove it….I think they should listen to this Mr Speaker.

They have until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow.

Or if any of the other parties, the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion, we’ll give you the time for that vote

It is time for this Parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions. We decided to call that referendum. We promised time and again to respect it.

I think the people of this country have had enough of it — this Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.

And I commend this statement to the House.

No one from the opposition benches put forward a motion for either an election or a vote of no confidence.

People watching at home thought the PM’s speech was excellent.

The language issue

On Wednesday, Boris deplored the Benn-Burt bill in his above address and referred to it as the Surrender Act.

He is absolutely correct.

Opposition MPs took exception and said he should not refer to it as such, because MPs’ feelings were hurt. We watched the proceedings on television and do not understand how they arrived at that conclusion.

Boris also said ‘humbug’, which opposition benches also found hurtful.

A Labour MP, Paula Sherriff, then brought up Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in cold blood just days before the 2016 referendum.

The Prime Minister replied tactfully and mentioned Jo Cox’s name, saying that she would have wanted Brexit to go ahead in line with the referendum vote, the people’s will.

The media seized on this by making it sound like the PM brought up Jo Cox’s name first. He most certainly did not. That link also has videos of Ms Sherriff, which do not show her in a flattering light.

Ms Cox’s widower, Brendan, had this to say. I listened to the PM and did not hear him demonise the late MP in any way, but Mr Cox might have heard about the exchange second hand:

The atmosphere in Wednesday’s evening session was appalling. Speaker of the House John Bercow did very little to keep order. Opposition MPs spoke over the PM, they shouted in a hostile manner and Bercow said practically nothing.

On Thursday, talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer interviewed a virtue-signalling Liberal Democrat MP:

Previously, she interviewed another virtue-signalling Lib Dem MP. Note the contrast in tone from said MP:

She gave a short message to opposition MPs on Brexit and language:

The language issue was debated at lunchtime on Thursday in Parliament.

Opposition MPs spoke of death threats.

Well, Conservatives have been on the receiving end of threatening behaviour, too, as Vicky Ford MP pointed out during the debate.

A little over a year ago, anti-Brexit people demonstrated outside of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s house, with his children present, more about which below.

Only a few days ago, a rapper accepting a music award held a dripping head effigy of Boris Johnson.

Threats are happening to MPs on both sides of the House of Commons:

Opposition language — the truth

In Thursday’s debate on language, following a statement by Labour MP Jess Phillips, who has also received death threats, a Conservative MP brought up Labour MP John McDonnell’s wish to assassinate Margaret Thatcher.

Of course, Speaker Bercow shut that down pretty fast.

Let us look at what John McDonnell said some time ago:

Backbencher has an excellent article explaining the full nasty and violent context of McDonnell’s aforementioned statements.

Another MP with the first name of John has also used foul and insulting language, directed below at a Conservative MP:

Here is a past video from the aforementioned Jess Phillips about her own party leader:

Also this (click on second tweet to see it in full):

Also:

And this:

And what about the language used in Remainer protests? ‘Betrayal’? ‘Treason May’?

That’s mild compared to this:

If those examples are not convincing enough, Guido Fawkes has many more.

After all is said and done, PLEASE leave everyone to their opinions!

No threats, please!

Let us live in peace, whatever our views!

As the wise Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Marcus Walker points out:

No adjournment for Conservative Party conference

The main opposition parties, Labour and the Lib Dems, have had their party conferences but voted against an adjournment for a few days next week for the Conservatives to have theirs.

How petty:

I could not agree more with the following opinion:

Certain cross-party bills will be tabled for next week, as the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, agreed with MPs on Thursday afternoon.

More to follow next week.

Despite record-breaking heatwave this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost no time on his first full day in No. 10:

On Thursday, July 25, 2019, he held his first cabinet meeting. The Press Association (PA) reported:

Boris Johnson will preside over his first meeting of his new Cabinet after a brutal cull of Theresa May’s top team.

Within hours of taking office on Wednesday, the new Prime Minister moved to stamp his authority, putting Brexiteers into key Cabinet posts as he vowed to take Britain out of the EU by the October 31 deadline.

He took his pledge to Britain seriously in his first address outside of No. 10 the day before:

Sensible people welcome his approach:

I do hope that journalist Lloyd Evans is correct:

Political pundit Guido Fawkes has been getting record-breaking social media stats:

Even the dress that Boris’s girlfriend wore on July 24 was selling out that same day:

Let’s look at the Cabinet reshuffle, which, for the most part, had me cheering.

In short:

This is also worth keeping in mind:

The new Cabinet will actually carry out the 2017 General Election Conservative Party mandate:

Conservative MP — and former Party leader — Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) says that leaving on October 31 is possible. I already knew this, but for those who do not, there is little danger of ‘crashing out’ with ‘no deal’:

Ultimately, the true nature of our MPs emerged with the stalling this year:

He is not wrong. There was a protest in Whitehall as Boris was preparing to make his first speech as PM. Please pardon the language below, but this has to be shown:

Now for more detail on the new Cabinet — which is diverse. By way of explanation, Michael Howard is also a former Conservative Party leader and Jewish:

Pundits think that Boris’s senior adviser Dominic ‘Vote Leave’ Cummings (in the tee shirt below) …

… had a lot to do with it:

Guido Fawkes posted a comprehensive list on July 24 of firings and hirings. Highlights follow (emphases and red in the original):

Earlier: Hammond, Stewart, Lidington, and Gauke pre-emptively announce resignations.

16:44: Penny Mordaunt sacked as Defence Secretary. Penny drops…

17:00: Liam Fox sacked as International Trade Secretary. Out-Foxed…

17:11: Chris Grayling quits as Transport Secretary. Grayling bailing…

I was really happy about this one:

17:24: James Brokenshire out as Communities Secretary. James Broken-fired…

James Brokenshire fired conservative philosopher Roger Scruton, who was deliberately misquoted in a New Statesman interview earlier this year. Scruton did not find out he had been sacked until he returned home from Paris the evening the article was published. He had been lecturing on architecture in Paris that day. Brokenshire did not even ask Scruton about the interview. Later, he admitted he was wrong in having jumped the gun, but he never rehired Scruton until July 23.

So, Brokenshire is out …

… and Scruton is back!

Incredibly, Brokenshire rehired Scruton the day before his own sacking! Perhaps Brokenshire thought that would put him in Boris’s good books. Wrong!

Scruton’s new boss is Robert Jenrick.

But, wait, there’s more.

Boris’s rival for Conservative Party leadership quit:

17:58: Jeremy Hunt quits as Foreign Secretary after turning down Defence. Shunt for Hunt…

Now for a few names of the new Cabinet members. I’m happy about all except for Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps and Amber Rudd, as I do not trust them nor believe they respect the British people:

18:35: Sajid Javid appointed Chancellor.

18:43: Priti Patel appointed Home Secretary

18:52: Dominic Raab appointed Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. 

18:59: Stephen Barclay remains Brexit Secretary. 

19:10: Michael Gove appointed to Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, no deal coordinator.

19:26: Liz Truss appointed International Trade Secretary.

19:55: Matt Hancock remains Health Secretary.

20:11: Theresa Villiers becomes Environment Secretary.

20:24: Gavin Williamson becomes Education Secretary.

20:29: Andrea Leadsom becomes Business Secretary.

20:46: Amber Rudd remains at DWP, adding Equalities brief.

20:59: Robert Buckland becomes Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary.

21:07: Alok Sharma becomes International Development Secretary.

21:12: Grant Shapps becomes Transport Secretary.

21:39: Baroness Evans remains Leader of the Lords.

21:51 Geoffrey Cox remains Attorney General.

22:11 Rishi Sunak becomes Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

22:43: Jacob Rees-Mogg becomes Leader of the House of Commons.

23:02: Oliver Dowden becomes Paymaster General and Cabinet Office Minister.

23:58: Kwasi Kwarteng appointed Business Minister.

This is Boris’s brother:

22:55: Jo Johnson returns as Universities Minister in BEIS and DfE.

I’m really happy about this appointment:

22:32: James Cleverly becomes Tory Party Chairman.

James Cleverly replaces Brandon Lewis, who is now Home Office Minister.

Here is the entire set of appointments. You can tell The Sun‘s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, is not a Boris fan:

Everyone appointed attended Thursday’s Cabinet meeting:

Afterwards, Boris addressed the House of Commons:

He did a splendid job, on the last day that the House of Commons meets before summer holiday. (They return in September.)

This is what happened, as tweeted by Dan Hodges, ex-Labour member — and former actress/Labour MP Glenda Jackson‘s son. He noticed the effect that Boris’s pusillanimous attacks were having on Labour, including party leader Jeremy Corbyn:

As for Jacob Rees-Mogg (JRM), who sat next to Boris during the Prime Minister’s Statement:

Re Brexit and the EU, he said (emphasis mine):

The days of supplication are over.

Well said!

In fact, even the Germans noticed, calling Boris ‘the blond bulldozer’. Wow:

Meanwhile, Theresa May — and some of the cabinet ministers Boris sacked — enjoyed a day of cricket:

Pundits wonder where Boris will travel first: Europe or the United States. Although President Trump hasn’t yet issued an invitation, it will surely come soon:

In closing, for anyone wondering about living arrangements:

According to the comments following that tweet, Tom Newton Dunn has exaggerated about the size of the No. 10 flat, which is larger than he makes it out to be. He has also conveniently forgotten that Boris has children, too: four, to be precise.

We can expect more Boris-bashing and sniping in the weeks ahead. The media and the rest of the Left will make sure of it.

I am cautiously optimistic for Boris’s tenure as Prime Minister.

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