Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab Refuses to Rule Out Imposing Further Restrictions before Christmas Day

Although Dominic Raab has insisted that Brits will experience a “much better Christmas than last year”, he also mentioned that there are no “hard, fast guarantees” that additional Covid restrictions won’t arrive before Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Government advisers have said that “significant action” needs to be taken to curb the spread of the Omicron variant and save the NHS from “real collapse”. Sky News has more.

Raab told Kay Burley: “I think we will have a much better Christmas than last year because of the vaccination level – both the overall vaccination level and particularly the impact of the booster campaign.

“People will need to be careful and cautious.

“But I do think, again subject to the data – and it’s always under review – that we’re in a better position to enjoy Christmas with loved ones this year.”

Asked if more restrictions would be imposed between now and Christmas Day, Raab said: “I just can’t make hard, fast guarantees.”

Twelve people infected with Omicron have died – Raab said 104 people with the variant are in hospital.

He added he did not anticipate parliament being recalled to vote on new restrictions before Christmas.

The Cabinet Minister said there was a time lag in the data and “we don’t yet know the severity” of the Omicron variant, adding that “it comes through day-by-day”.

He said regardless of modelling by scientific advisers, the government would “test the data in real-time against real cases”.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of NERVTAG which advises the Government on the threat posed by new and emerging respiratory viruses, said “significant” action needs to be taken to tackle the growing number of Covid cases.

He said: “It is of serious concern. We have an escalating number of cases that really has reached levels that we haven’t seen before in terms of the rate of increase.

“The action that’s needed really is going to be quite significant.”

Dr. Gupta added: “The sheer numbers that are going to be infected because of the increased transmissibility of this virus is going to potentially overwhelm our health service.

“So that’s a really critical situation that we’re facing.”

Worth reading in full.

Children’s Commissioner and Dominic Raab Accuse Lockdown of Weakening Protections for Vulnerable Children

The Justice Secretary has said that school closures during lockdown had put vulnerable and neglected children at a greater risk of harm and abuse. In turn, Dame Rachel de Souza, the current Children’s Commissioner for England, concluded that the system put in place to protect six year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his step-mother, was further weakened by the Government’s Covid restrictions, whereas her predecessor, Anne Longfield, mentioned that “very vulnerable children have continued to slip from view” over the course of the pandemic. The Times has the story.

Dame Rachel de Souza said that the voices of children must be listened to following the murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Arthur was killed in June last year after Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes had submitted him to a “campaign of cruelty” that amounted to torture at their home in Shirley, Solihull. The boy was isolated, abused and forced to eat salt-laced meals before dying from an “unsurvivable brain injury” after being beaten by Tustin.

Tustin was jailed for life at Coventry crown court with a minimum term of 29 years last week for abusing, poisoning and murdering Arthur while his father was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter and abuse. The judge described the case as “one of the most distressing and disturbing” he had experienced.

An independent serious case review is under way into the actions of Solihull council social workers who found “no safeguarding concerns” after visiting Arthur two months before he was killed. Social workers received at least three warnings from family members and teachers.

As the Government confirmed that it would be holding a national review to protect other children, de Souza, the Commissioner for England, said that more had to be done to support social workers to spot similar cases, but the coronavirus lockdown had weakened the system.

She told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “The life of a child is of inestimable value and his voice was not heard and that’s where we need to start.

“Obviously, there’s a serious case review under way and we need to see what that says but we must take decisive action and now.” She said Arthur was not a baby and had raised his concerns but “the system did not hear him”.

“We must listen to the voices of children and, secondly, these reviews and national reviews… tend to make the same recommendations. It’s not a matter of system recommendations, it’s a matter of delivery.”

The national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will lead the review and provide additional support to Solihull Safeguarding Children Partnership to “upgrade” the existing local review that was launched shortly after Arthur’s death.

Worth reading in full.

Students Must Wait Until September to Find Out Whether They Need Proof of Vaccination to Go to University, Says Dominic Raab

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has admitted that the Government is “coaxing and cajoling” young Brits into getting vaccinated against Covid with plans to introduce vaccine passports at nightclubs and other “large venues”, but warned that students will have to wait for months to find out whether they need to be fully vaccinated to attend university lectures and to live in halls.

Given that Raab says “these decisions will be taken in September”, the month in which the university term starts, it is hard to see how students will have any “advance warning” of vaccine status checks, as he suggests they will. BBC News has more.

Mr Raab was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the Government was in favour of going further and making the vaccine pass compulsory in more settings.

“I think the key principle is in crowded places where we want to open up… whether it’s going to a football game or pop concert, we want to make sure people can do that,” he said.

And asked whether they were planning to require students in university halls to get vaccinated, Mr Raab said: “When we come to the crunch, these decisions will be taken in September. We’ve got some time to go.

“Right the way through this pandemic we’ve had to take advice and decisions based on the evidence when we see it.

“We will certainly make sure university students have advance warning, of course we’re going to be mindful of this.”

He said he had recently visited France, where they had a big surge in vaccinations after bringing in a health pass for many activities.

“It’s a little bit of coaxing and cajoling and also making clear that ultimately over September when we know we’ll see, as a result of coming out of the lockdown step four, an increase in cases, we can control that with backstop safeguard measures.”

Latest Government figures show that more than 71% of adults have now had two jabs, while 88% have had a first dose.

Young people who are within three months of turning 18 – meaning those who are soon able to go to university – and those aged 12-17 who live with people who have a suppressed immune system, can now also get a jab.

The idea to make vaccines compulsory for university students was not ruled out by either education minister Vicky Ford or Downing Street when asked about it earlier this week.

“We are still looking at the scope for vaccination certifications,” the Number 10 spokesman said on Monday.

Earlier this week, the trade union for academic staff such as lecturers, criticised the idea following news reports.

“Students should be prioritised for vaccinations, to ensure as many as possible have the opportunity to be vaccinated by September,” said the University and College Union.

“But making vaccinations compulsory as a condition to access their education is wrong and would be hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated, and international students.”

Worth reading in full.

Government Does Not Believe in Lab Leak Theory, Says Dominic Raab

Following discussions on the origins of Covid among the G7 leaders in Cornwall on Saturday, Dominic Raab has said that on the “balance of probabilities” the U.K. Government does not believe in the lab leak theory. It is “much more likely”, he added, that the virus “jumped” from animals to humans. The MailOnline has the story.

Asked if he had been involved in G7 discussions about the lab leak theory, [the Foreign Secretary] told Sky News: “I haven’t personally but of course it has created part of the backdrop and officials have been comparing notes on this.

“If you are asking me whether we think on the balance of probabilities, if you like, that it originated in a lab, our best information for now is that it didn’t.

“But we don’t have all of the answers, that is why internationally we wanted the review to be able to go into to get all of the answers, to have all the cooperation, so we have the full picture rather than these possible, potential, plausible options.

“But on balance we do not believe that it came from a laboratory. We think it is much more likely to have jumped if you like from animals to humans.”

A recent report by the Wall Street Journal, citing a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, claimed three researchers from the Wuhan lab sought hospital care in November 2019.  

The report, which provided fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits, sparked renewed calls for a probe into whether the virus came from a lab. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, says that all hypotheses on the origins of Covid remain “open“.

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.

Dominic Raab Rejects Calls to Speed up the Exit From Lockdown

No amount of good news on the Covid front will persuade the Government to speed up the exit from lockdown. We are “very close now to really turning the corner” in our efforts against Covid, but not close enough that our unlock can be brought forward, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. What’s more, he said that rules on mask-wearing and social distancing could continue beyond June 21st. MailOnline has the story.

The Foreign Secretary warned “there will still need to be some safeguards in place” after [June 21st] in comments likely to anger Tory MPs who want all coronavirus rules to be lifted. 

[Talking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News,] Mr Raab rejected calls to speed up the roadmap as he insisted “we are very close now to really turning the corner” in the battle against the disease. 

The success of the U.K.’s vaccination programme and falling infection numbers have prompted demands for the Government to bring forward its reopening dates. 

But the Foreign Secretary this morning urged people to be patient as he insisted June 21st is not far away and “we are nearly there’”.

He argued that “taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go” to avoid undoing the progress made during the national shutdown. 

He also… promised that on June 21st “almost all social restrictions will be lifted”.

To justify the “roadmap” continuing at its current slow pace, Raab said: “[The] fourth step out of lockdown is not far away now so I think [we should] just hang on.” But for the sake of the hospitality venues that have yet to reopen (and even those that have reopened outdoors), and for the sake of the nation’s mental and physical health, any amount of time still spent in lockdown is too long.

MailOnline‘s report is worth reading in full.