September. Six months into the Covid 19 pandemic, policy plagued by contradiction and confusion, a hokey-cokey of advice, in-out -in of lockdowns as the second wave hits, a less than `world-beating` test-and-trace system that cannot keep pace with demand; the shifting sands of quarantine restrictions placed upon overseas tourist hotspots as the resurgence of the virus spreads and holidaymakers again try to flood home to beat self-isolation restrictions; the starting and stopping of primary and secondary education as schools go back to try to work in socially-distanced groups ; university `Freshers` weeks spent in on-campus bubbles leaving students with the collegiate experience of having to find food without access to shopping facilities.
August. A silly season of localised lockdowns, `staycations` and chaotic exam results. The steady flow of channel-crossing inflatable craft carrying people-trafficked migrants continues. Mayor Boris finally publishes a dissolution honours catalogue that makes Marcia Falkender`s legendary `lavender list` almost modest. “Build, build, build” is the order of the month and Mr. Secretary Jenrick pulls a Planning White Paper that reads like a developer`s charter out of the “Communities and Local Government” hat .
July.` Liberation Day` for some but not for Leicester. Stanley `Uncle Bulgaria` Johnson heads for the hills in Greece while his little boy has a masked ball engaging in a weight-loss campaign. Many lose their jobs including Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill but his exit is only mildly Covid-related.
June. Covid 19 continues to dominate Government, parliament and everyday life. And death as the toll of victims passes the forty-thousand mark. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparks a firestorm of protest internationally. Back lives do matter. So does the maintenance of law and order. Putin`s neo-Soviet Union rigs a `referendum` , the Chinese flout the treaty to impose rule from Beijing upon Hong Kong and The Tramp receives a bible-belting in Washington.
May. Too many Cummings but no Goings. Thousands wait for package holiday refunds as the travel industry goes into meltdown. The Home Office does the Hokey Cokey over quarantine while the Home Secretary herself struggles to get a handle on the largest number of illegal migrants to cross La Manche in a single month. Though to be fair she is not assisted by the escort for rubber dinghies helpfully provided by M.Macron`s matelots. The Salford Broadcasting Corporation is on the rack over editorial bias. “Infamy, In For Me…..”etc but Covid 19 is no left-wing plot. Furlough is costing the Treasury £8 billion and rising and the Chancellor says that we face the worst recession for 300 years.
April. The new June. Sunshine, flowers, birds nesting, butterflies flitting, native wild animals thriving. Pity about the Covid 19 but you cannot have everything can you? Her Maj addresses the nation for only the fourth time in her sixty-eight years on the throne – apart from the Queen`s Christmas speeches, of course. We celebrate The Big Night In with the Heir to the Throne and a cast of other minor celebrities. The churches are closed for Easter but, hey, Archbishop Justin will offer us a homily from his homely kitchen and the Bishop in Canterbury, Rose Hudson Wilkin, will sermonize wonderfully from her own socially-distanced mount. Old dogs have to learn new tricks.
Mad March. It all began so normally. Boris bumbling, The Tramp in ranting self-denial, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders slugging it out for the privilege of being the next person to lose the Presidential race for the Democrats, Harry and Meghan`s last Royal Hurrah, The Brothers and Sisters squabbling, sorry campaigning, over the soul and future of the British Labour Party, non=negotiations of the post-Brexit futures of the UK and the EU and the French Foreign Minister threatening a new `fish war`, Priti still sticking in the Home Office, still waiting on decisions about Heathrow Runway Three and High Speed Two but there will be a 1.9 mile tunnel under Stonehenge, more floods/no Boris, a border crisis between Greece and Turkey over released refugees as Erdogan nudges closer to Vlad Putin over Syria, former SNP Leader Alex Salmond goes on trial over sex-abuse charges, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his first budget under surreal circumstances, war is declared – on £2.5 billion of potholes in UK roads, The Prime Minister faces his first Commons rebellion in the voting lobbies, Cheltenham races on. And then there was Coronavirus or Covid 19 and the world, as we know it today, came to a shuddering halt.
Recently there was a meeting at the British Embassy in Lisbon between representatives of British communities here in Portugal and representatives from SEF, IMT, Dept for International Trade, Higher Education and the health service. The aim was to inform us all about the transition period and how it relates to us. Below is a summary of the main points.
- Gale`s Westminster View – February 2020
- Gale`s Westminster View - January 2020
- Gale`s Westminster View - End of year 2019
- Gale`s Westminster View - November 2019
- New Government: Algarve?
- Michael Gove's response... the rights of British nationals living in the EU
- Gale's Westminster View – October 2019
- A letter to the Prime Minister... the rights of British nationals living in the EU