Supply chains and interruptions to output

During the prolonged wrangles over Brexit we were beset with false claims that supply chains would be disrupted  by moving to a Free Trade or WTO based future arrangement  between the UK and the rest of the EU. Some of us pointed out the long and complex supply chains of industries like the car industry already included substantial supplies from non EU sources which worked fine despite coming from outside the single market.

Today we see supply chains badly disrupted in some cases both within the EU single market and from outside it by the impact of government policies followed around the world to deal with the virus. It is curious we do not hear incessantly and regularly from those who used to  be worried about these things, now there is something to worry about.

There is first of all the interruptions to supply from abroad in to the UK because the supplier has been instructed by their national government to cease production as part of a plan to impede the spread of the virus. There are then the interruptions to supply that come from a foreign government placing an export ban on essential goods in short supply, as the Germans did on certain supplies needed for virus treatment. This is on top of the US moves to impose tariffs and bans on countries that the President regards as a  threat to national security. The USA is seeking to stop allies from buying from some Chinese technology providers, and is imposing strict sanctions on Iran, for example.

Some argue that this means we have now seen peak globalisation. There are  various good reasons to encourage more domestic production. It cuts travel  miles for products and components. It cuts the risks to supply lines from geopolitical events in various countries. It adds more value in your own country. The economic argument against is that based on the theory of free trade and specialisation. If each place or country specialises in a few things that it  becomes very good at and reaps economies of scale in  , total world real income should be maximised. That argument works well when most or all governments believe it and promote it, but comes under pressure when countries cheat. Mr Trump’s argument with the Chinese is over just that. He thinks they cheat on technology, currency level, state aids  and other matters.

The UK is discovering that it cannot rely on China and Germany for some  imports at a time of virus crisis.   The UK private sector is showing considerable flexibility, with Distilleries offering hand gel, engineering businesses offering ventilators and textile companies running up personal protection clothing. The main constraint on our flexibility seems to be occasional delays in the public sector testing and approving what the new producers can deliver. We need to get better at this flexibility when we cannot always rely on abroad to supply the things we really need. We also need to cut the food miles and make sure our fishing and  farming system encourages a higher proportion of home grown and home caught produce.

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  1. Stephen Priest
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    A lot of of remainers are trying to use coronavirus as an excuse for extending the transition period. Clearly the last thing we need is to be stuck inside the protectionist and bureaucratic EU structure such as the Single Market.

    Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and North America need mutual unrestricted tariff free trade to get us out of the economic depression as soon as we can.

    China should not be any part of this.

    • Hope
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      JR, still does not mention what liability the U.K. Has under the European Stability Fund? The UK is invassalage and very weak position at the moment. Brexit was not done dishonestly claimed by Johnson. UK is in vassalage as he pointed out two years ago!

      What this shows, again, is that Germany can do whatever pleases and flout the rules/laws as it likes without come back. For years it broke the surplus rules, it broke unilaterally immigration and imposed on the other 26 countries, it refused let alone failed to help Italy with urgent medical supplies and is refusing financial help, it has now closed its borders more than what the U.K. Has done as an island!

      Unbelievably the U.K. Bordersmare still open to virus hotspot countries while the Tory govt places us under house arrest and the utterly useless Hancock said yesterday in a totalitarian way this I said not a request! The man who failed to comply with his own social distancing advice and caught the virus along with Johnson!

      JR, are you going to apologise for the continued open borders which has and will cause deaths of U.K. Citizens as your govt failed repeatedly to carry the number of tests it promised? Johnson said 250,000 a day by now, Handcock said two days ago 100,000 by the end of this month! That is fewer than half six weeks after it promised.

      Could we have a three or four word strap line to make it sound more,convincing?

      • Hope
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Jr, what on earth is Robert Buckland alking about to release 4,000 early saying some cells have two or three inmates. So what? Many millions of households under Govt. house arrest have more than that without committing numerous crimes to get jailed. As no one should be visiting prisoners their use isolation in prison should be safer!

        If Buckland claimed lack of prison officers that might have some traction but his claim today makes him and the govt look stupid, weak and useless on crime and punishment. The CJU in need of proper reform to put victims before criminals and moreover proper sentencing restored.

        So we now have a situation where law abiding citizens treated worse than criminals! Fines and threatened with arrest for going for a walk, visit family. Handcock saying this is not a request. But perfectly happy to let convicted criminals out. You could not make it up.

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

          It comes as a shock to the public that this is being unleashed upon us by a Tory government.

          Mad Max times indeed.

          Lunatics running the country.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      The last thing that the UK needs is complete economic collapse.

      The obsession with the most distant and hostile possible relationship with the world’s richest market right on our doorstep would be about the best way of ensuring that if crystallised.

      Especially since about half of the UK’s external commerce is already enmeshed with it.

      You people are rather strange, I think.

      • Hope
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        JR, suggest you read article in Spectator by DR Matt Strauss critical care doctor and his findings about the use of ventilators around the world are not the panacea MSM claim and whether it is worthwhile wrecking the economy for a disease that has no cure. Undoubtedly this lock down and savagery of the economy will cause deaths.

        What is the govt exit strategy? It should have been thought through before mass house arrest.

        Suggest Trump will be proved right the cure is worse than the problem.

        Matt Handcock still making false statements he will do whatever it takes, knowing the UK has kept open borders from the outset knowing people arriving from hotspots will infect our citizens! He should resigne or be sacked. We read gutless Johnson now seeking help from other parties. Is this his May’s moment to make agreement with Corbyn?

        PHE quango has unequivocally shown it is of no use the NHS in saving lives as much as the Enironment Agency was to the flood victims in January and February. When is the bonfire of quangos going to take place? Every penny will count soon. Time for quangos to be ruthlessly dispatched.

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        The worlds richest market is the USA.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Martin – what! All of us? You against the world! Lonely- are you?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          Freddie, you’re only the fervent fringe of the seventeen million who voted Leave.

          The rest of the sixty-seven million of us are generally reasonable, pragmatic people.

          Let me remind you, that I do not advocate this country’s rejoining the European Union any time soon, incidentally.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

            Excellent SMartie, I did need reminding. When did you tell us you wouldn’t rejoin? Must have passed over that as I often do…

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

            I have repeatedly said that the European Union is better without this confused and misguided country in it for the foreseeable future, and that is paramount.

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

            Martin, You have repeatedly eulogised the EU empire and stated that (you think) we will be worse off out of it. To now claim that you think we should not remain is absurd given your past statements.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Who wants “the most distant and hostile possible relationship” with Europe?

        Perhaps the most ridiculous nonsense you have ever said on here.
        And you have already set yourself a high bar.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          I’ve read entirely serious comments here suggesting that the Navy shell fishing boats from the European Union.

          • NickC
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            Martin, That’s only if they persisted in illegally fishing in our waters. What? – you think we should pat them on the back and smile sweetly as they rob us?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            So one or two people out of 70 million.
            Even more ridiculous

          • dixie
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            A fleet of French fishing boats “shelled” UK boats in 2018 with rocks and molotov cocktails and apparently the French Navy stood back and allowed the piracy to proceed.

            Was that a demonstration of the high moral and ethical behaviour you proclaim the EU is the sole exponent of?

            You should wind in your neck and stop taking such fabricated offence on behalf of the continentals.

          • Lester Beedell
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think that was supposed to be taken seriously 😂😂

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            Hilarious, thanks Nick. I rest my case.

            If your neighbour builds an extension overhanging your property then you go to court.

            You don’t petrol bomb his house.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            If other nations fish inside our territorial waters without our permission then they are breaking the law.
            And vice versa.

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Can’t you read? I said “persisted”. Of course we would try the diplomatic route first. Then the courts. But our courts would be hampered if they persisted, or absconded, or ignored the rulings. Then what? You would just turn a blind eye as they carried on? No, the obvious course would be a shot across the bows and the guilty boats impounded.

      • NickC
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Egged on by the Remain mob shrieking that we would be “poorer” out of the EU, Remain politicians obsessed about remaining under the thrall of the EU empire. Shamefully, incredibly! Remain nearly wrecked the UK’s governing institutions and democracy.

        And it was all predicated on a touching belief in the Treasury’s predictions (ie guesses). In fact even the pro-Remain Treasury expected the UK to be better off out; it was just they guessed that we would be slightly better off if we remained in. And you would wreck your country on such flimsy propaganda!

        Now the Covid19 pandemic really is a disaster. Not your fake, imaginary Brexit doom. No reputable economist – even Remain ones – supposed we would lose all our exports to the EU (amounting to c12% UK GDP). Yet it is perfectly possible we will lose 12% GDP from our economy because of the coronavirus.

        No doubt you won’t take responsibility for your false claims, any more than you will admit you got it wrong about supply chains and JIT.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          Yes, Nick.

          Now the Covid19 pandemic really is a disaster. Not your fake, imaginary, remaining in the European Union or in its institutions doom.

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            But what sort of disaster? No, Martin, you have failed to explain why being politically annexed by the EU is justified by mere trade. Remaining in the EU is a national disaster. Not an economic disaster.

      • Libertarian
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink


        Hello mate I’m stuck in France at the moment

        1) Europe is NOT the EU how many more times do you need to be told , Europeans will continue to buy our products and services no matter what

        2) Here in France there is anger with the EU and its pathetic response

        3 ) Italy is done with the EU, they will be next to leave

        4) Greece is now also seriously looking at what to do going forward

        5) The Hungarian government has just broken the fundamental rules of the EU and should be expelled

        The EU is finished , its over they failed to be there when their members needed them most

        The lack of effective response to an emergency like the pandemic highlights the total failure of a protectionist, isolated, rule bound organisation like the EU

        I see the Labour party still prefer white, male, straight, middle aged, privately educated millionaires as leaders , very progressive

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Now is an excellent time to leave the EU. With trading volumes low it can be a carefully managed operation.
      If Boris tries to extend it will ignite Farage and the Reform party which will give the Tories a drubbing at the next election.

      • zorro
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Indeed, the situation is enrolling which will in fact make the transition far easier than it would have been in a normal state. I think that the EU will see that too and will be forced to accept an equitable trade deal to facilitate import/export of goods.


      • NickC
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Certainly, leaving the EU now would only be – at worst – a rounding error on the losses due to the SARS-CV-2 pandemic. And of course it is much more likely that we will do better outside the restrictive dirigiste EU’s trade treaty.

        We could have left after 12 months. We should have left after two years. So in leaving in July 2018 we would have been firmly settled before the pandemic broke. The best outcome is to leave now, and reap the advantages of independence as soon as possible.

        • bill brown
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink


          What rewards and advantages of independence?

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            Bill B, Seriously? Try looking up why the colonies of the British Empire were desperate for independence. That applies to the UK controlled by the EU (see declaration 17).

          • Edward2
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            People all over the world have fought and died for their right to live in a free independent nation.
            Bill your post is staggering in its historical implications.

    • ChrisS
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      The Government might well decide it would be better to extend the transition period for no more than the amount of time we are in lockdown.

      However, in no circumstances should this include paying the EU £1bn a month for the privilege of negotiating a continuation of tariff-free access to the UK market to purpetuate the EU’s vast trade surplus with us.

      If there is any question of additional money changing hands after December 2020,, it’s Brussels that should be paying us !

      • Hope
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Chris, The EU could ask to extend but would mean no payments or following of rules. That is why it would want U.K. to ask.

        No need to extend as preparations for no deal were already made last March, April, June and October. There is no end to corona virus as there is no cure, what period to extend could be agreed other than forever? No the UK should have left years ago according to article 50. Bad faith by the EU, dishonesty by May aided by civil service also prevented U.K. Departure. Leave without agreement is now the only option which is of the EU making.

  2. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    After this pandemic is over, we need to take a very hard look at our reliance on imports. We have got used to having everything we need, without much thought as to where it comes from.

    When I buy something, nine times out of ten it is manufactured abroad. Virtually nothing is made in this country anymore. We have out ourself at risk with this system. It needs to change.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      We have also developed a throw away / consumerism type culture. We need to ask ourselves, “Do we really need that new smartphone ?”

      • Hope
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        The smart phones Google are using to monitor your locations and movements and passing to Sky to chart on the news!

      • IanT
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Only when your 9 year old android doesn’t work with WhatsApp any more! 🙂

        • Hope
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          I am consciously buying British, not RoI, wherever I can particularly food. Varadakar needs a message and it is in your wallet do not buy RoI products buy British. Same for milk etc.

          • Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

            Me too, have been for some time, and I only employ British workers.

          • NickC
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            Hope, Yes, Eire represented by Varadkar and Gerry Adams hardly entices Brits to buy Irish does it?

        • Fred H
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          and the Bank says I can register and use online banking in minutes…..not on my inherited older iphone you can’t …has to be 10.xx.xx IOS. My other half has the best, I get the cast offs!

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Cheshire Girl

      Quite right. “Reducing the reliance on imports and a shift back to self-reliance”

      This is the only sensible course of action for the future of Britain’s economic success and food source sustainability. Additionally, there is an immediate need to rebalance energy sources and UK Manufacturing vs Service industries.

      The global Covid-19 disease debacle has demonstrated the UK’s inadequacy with regards to scientific preparedness, hospital management efficiency, long term health investment and our over-dependency on overseas manufacturing.

      Surely, there is an imperative need for a greater shift back to self-support mechanisms?

  3. David_Kent
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Good may well come out of this whole affair if the absurdly hostile attitude of Public Health England and others to involving the private sector can be overcome.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Another democratic failure that Cummings needs to address. It is our money ffs.

      • Hope
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        PHE is a left wing political quango that needs dispatching. Their decisions have shown to be political not best for people’s lives and health care.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Ps the problem I have is that this is well known in the industry so why has the Minister of State allowed it to happen/done nothing about it?

      I guess like the rubbish he keeps spouting about testing, if he is not told the truth he is stuffed especially as to get up the greasy pole of politics you have to lick backsides and when up there, kick them, the latter they are all useless at!

      • David_Kent
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Yes, well known in the trade, but it has never been acceptable to criticise PHE or the NHS until now. That’s why the opportunity to break their monopolies must not be allowed to go to waste.

        • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink


        • acorn
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          There is a lovely para in the PHE annual Report and Accounts

          “Constructive losses PHE wrote off £207,566,000 (2018: £39,446,000) in relation to countermeasures held for emergency preparedness and vaccines that have now passed their shelf life. These write offs are a planned consequence of our preparedness strategy that involves central stockpiling.”

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            £207 million?

            What were they holding? If it was part of a plan then I suspect it could be acceptable but why the jump year on year, do they not have a rolling stock position or did swine flu vaccine have a 10 year shelf life?

    • jerry
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      @David_Kent; Good luck selling that idea at the moment and for a good few years after the pandemic passes! If anything this crisis (like after WW2) is likely to have re-enforced the ideals of the Beveridge Report.

    • Andy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      What a silly post. It is entirely reasonable for Public Health England to need to ensure that hastily designed and built ventilators actually work How unfortunate would it be for you if you found yourself in intensive care – and they fitted you with one of Mr Dyson’s new ventilators – which proved to be as ineffectual as his vacuum cleaners. One of which we have had sat broken in the corner of our utility room for several months.

      • Lester Beedell
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Andy, I’ve had my Dyson vacuum cleaner since 2004 and it’s still giving sterling service
        Perhaps it’s something that you’ve done?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          He has been shouting at it I expect, Lester.
          Eventually even an excellent Dyson can only take so much.
          We, on here, know exactly how Andy’s Dyson feels.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        waiting for parts from globalisation, I expect?

      • graham1946
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Dyson have too much to lose to let a sub standard product of such importance out. I suspect stupidity in the use of your machine, like sucking up water or hoovering a gravel drive. How is it that you always magically have something bad to back your usual infantile posts? Invention seems the best bet. By the bye, how are you getting on furloughing your 30 employess?

      • NickC
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Are you going to apologise for your silly – and nasty – comments? Didn’t think so. You’re the man who gloated about the deaths of elderly Brexit voters, claimed to know about supply chains and JIT (when you clearly didn’t), and thought that voting Brexit would make us poorer (just because of your misrepresentation of the Treasury’s guesses). It’s time you piped down; or got another job.

      • gregory martin
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Andy, its clear that you prioritise dissipating you daft comments over repairing the simple Dyson cleaner, which apart from cluttering your utility, is leaving you with a head full of fluff. Spares for vacs are cheaply available online, unfortunately grey matter is at a premium.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Exactly. We need to look at the German health service – insurance-based with a mix of public and private suppliers. But we won’t of course.

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Maybe we will! This Coronavirus shock is being felt disproportionately in Westminster!

      • NickC
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Roy G, The biggest problem is the top-down, 1950s style, socialist management of the NHS. It has long been the bugbear of the medical staff.

        • jerry
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; The 1950s style NHS worked [1], the problem with the NHS today is the meddling that has happened since 1979, what with the absurd internal accounting systems etc that have done nothing to improve front line health care but has created a lot of jobs to managers, accountants etc. in back offices.

          [1] when it was integrated into a complete care system along side social services, what used to be called cradle to grave, no bed blocking back then

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, You have partly got what I meant. But I’m not writing a management tome, so I characterised the sort of inflexible, centralised, bureaucratic, top-down, socialist state planning, blame-game, way of running an enterprise as “1950s style” management – it’s just shorthand.

            That includes political top-down government interventions of course, which have happened throughout the existence of the NHS, not just from 1979. However, nationalised industries are (supposedly) “democratically controlled”, so such interventions are inevitable, and one of the disadvantages of nationalised undertakings.

            The reality is – quite separately from government whims – NHS management can be summarised as “1950s style”. In modern “Pull” production lines even the guys on the shop floor are given more autonomy and respect than doctors and nurses are given by the NHS management. The NHS management ethos is stuck in the 1950s.

          • jerry
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; But what you describe, and the problems I cited, are not the result of a “socialist” doctrine, they are the result of a capitalist market economy doctrine. It’s actually 1980s style!

            If anything we need to get back to a more pure form of the NHS, as Beveridge intended but never delivered.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        I have no issue with the national insurance payments I make being given to private suppliers – still free at the point of need just someone else has been paid.

        • jerry
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          @NS; “national insurance payments I make being given to private suppliers”

          What a good idea, pay ones NI, via the govt, as the law would demand to a private health care provider, but also buy a few shares in the said provider thus gettings ones NI back as dividends….

      • jerry
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        @Roy Grainger; “We need to look at the German health service”

        You mean you would prefer the govt to tax the money in your right hand rather than the money in your left?!

        How is the German federal govt system of mandating what each working adult has to pay for public health insurance any different to the UK govt mandating what each working adult has to pay in income and NI taxes for their public health cover…

        • Edward2
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          It isn’t very different but the standards of care and speed of service is better in the German health system.

          • jerry
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Have you ever stopped to consider if those differing standards might have nothing to do with the abilities of the health care system but everything to do with its political oversight?

          • Edward2
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

            Yes I have stopped to consider that.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      PHE was created out of the NHS in 2013. Just another pointless reorganisation concocted by the useless Arts graduates that misrule our country. The NHS has to treat the victims of COVID-19 so why is another body allowed to take decisions that impact the size and severity of the NHS’s workload?

      Of course we have a strong and innovative biotech industry in this country but it is clear that that the government acting through PHE, is determined to hide its talents under a bushel.

      • forthurst
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        We have a very serious problem in this country which is that our governance is largely in the hands of Arts graduates who simply do not have the ability to solve problems or understand the implications of some of their daft ideas.

        When foreigners want to make use of our tertiary education system, they opt for science and engineering; this is because they wish to learn something useful. Only in this country do we give jobs to people who have learned nothing of value and who spend their whole careers playing internal politics whilst churning out garbage like the document that JR highlighted yesterday.

        • Caterpillar
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink


          Business subjects are by far the highest recruiters of international students, though I do not disagree with your questioning of the Arts.

        • NickC
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Forthurst, Very true.

      • forthurst
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        By Jan 11th, 41 people from the Wuhan fish market were known to have contracted the new disease with one death but there had been no transmission to medical staff. However, on Jan 17, Professor Li Lanjuan, virologist, was informed that medical staff treating patients in Wuhan had become infected. She immediately contacted the National Health Commission which dispatched her within a team of six medical experts to Wuhan which on Jan 19th established human-to-human transmission; the whole team met and alerted the government in Beijing to the need to raise the new coronavirus disease to the highest category A. At 2am on January 23, Wuhan was put into lock down; the government did not wait for a report from a team of Arts graduates highlighting all the options and with all the pros and cons etc.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          I’ve tried to explain this forthurst, but some commenters here dismiss out-of-hand everything that is said about China as complete fabrication, even that by independent observers.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            -everything you say due to being so gullible. Which independent observers?

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            No, Martin, I have observed that you quote and appear to trust what the communist government of China says. I hope I am wrong. So why don’t you accept that at least some of their information is falsified? And that we do not know which is false, so cannot blindly trust any?

  4. Mark B
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Whilst I agree with much of what our kind host says, if we keep moving the population goal posts we will never come anywhere close to achieving self sufficiency in anything. We not only need to look to improve the supply side but, reduce the demand side. But this government is wedded to the false god of GDP and cannot stem the tide.

    China has done very well out of being the worlds sweatshop. It has helped the world of consumerism no end. But that consumerism, another one of our governments false gods, is not production. It is not wealth. We not only need to look at the things our kind host mentions but, all manor of things including how we are governed and what our national goals are ? We need to become what Napoleon once derided us for but which we are very good at, “A nation of shopkeepers !” Or to be it in its modern term – SME’s ! And not just any old SME’s, high tech ones ! The British are brilliant at inventing things. We just crap at selling them.

    • ianterry
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      to be it in its modern term – SME’s ! And not just any old SME’s, high tech ones ! The British are brilliant at inventing things. We just crap at selling them.

      You are totally correct in your comments and the UK are going to have to seriously look at what we “don’t” need to buy in from abroad. The only problem I see with the country going back to small efficient , effective based manufacturing will be skills training and whether we have politicians and civil servants with enough knowledge and experience to understand how these companies really operate.
      What level of support in training and purchasing, especially in all the latest high tech equipment that will assist production but will be essential in encouraging the design of new products?

      But do it we must. Dependence on China is no longer a necessity or even desirable

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Politicians and civil servants are not capable of regulating and controlling the sophisticated business world, but they have been 1st class at hampering it. This must stop with an upgrade of the political class (our generous host should be the benchmark) a genuine bonfire of regulation and control. Civil servants must sign of their letters in the traditional way ‘I am Sir, your obedient servant.’ to constantly remind them of their place in the hierarchy.

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          hear hear

          …and please stop the lockdown

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      This return to 1960s levels of traffic and people on the streets, and not being able to buy sweatshop goods is a definite plus. As is the return of the corner shops.

    • NickC
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Mark B, A very good comment. I would slightly differ when you say: “The British are brilliant at inventing things. We just crap at selling them.”, and say instead: “The British are brilliant at inventing things. We just crap at putting them into production.” We’re actually quite good at selling.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        “We’re just crap at paying anyone properly to produce them”

        • NickC
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Have you got evidence for that? There is plenty of evidence for British inventions and patents being put into production in foreign countries, rather than by Britain.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    With more and more automation and the use of robots and IT then the cheaper labour costs (of some other countries) becomes rather less important. So we could indeed make (and grow) more here. It can give better lead times, more flexibility and lower transport costs.

    We do however need cheap reliable energy, to reduce the size of the bloated largely parasitic state sector, to move to easy hire and fire and to have a bonfire of red tape. Alas the government has a policy of expensive unreliable energy plus as we saw yesterday (in this diary) they also have an insane, dishonest and deluded transport agenda. Indeed government policy so far seem to promise us more government, more red tape, expensive energy and more even restrictive employment laws. Perhaps the downturn caused by this virus will for them to have some sensible economic policies. The government must start by cancelling the appalling waste of money that is HS2.

    It is clearly an outrage that the pandemic planning did not have any sensible plans to ensure essential and fairly basic medical equipment could not be made quickly and locally. It was hardly difficult to predict the need for more PPE, ventilators and similar in a pandemic. Why on earth did Hancock say the NHS was very well prepared for a pandemic? We his “experts” “assuring” him of this nonsense.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      After all it seems that Grant Chapps’s moronic transport “experts’ are clearly (quite wrongly) telling him that electric cars, cycling and walking produce no C02. This when in reality they can often actually be rather worse than taking an efficient petrol car. Do they know they are wrong and are just lying or are they really this ignorant of science?

      • Everhopeful
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Hackneyed I know but I genuinely believe it works exactly like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
        Snake oil salesmen flatter those in charge with weasel words.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Interestingly the silly London to Edinburgh table they produced does not give the occupancy or the car or the train. The usual trick of the C02 alarmists is to compare a full train or bus with a car with just a single driver. Then to ignore the links at each end and other CO2 outputs of the train network and staff.

      • DavidJ
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        The agenda is all important and must be supported by distortion of data and outright lies were necessary. I returned to the UK yesterday and was denied the opportunity to drive. So:

        Train in Spain – capacity around 7700-800, passengers 6.

        Flight Spain to France – capacity close to 200, passengers 30 including relocating aircrew.

        Flight France to UK, similar aircraft, passengers this time, around 1 per 6 seats.

        Train London to Manchester, empty first class carriages, 4 passengers carried in second class with capacity of hundreds.

        Of course those of us who needed to travel cannot overstate our thanks to those who transported us home but what was the real cost compared to my driving 1500 miles by car?

        • DavidJ
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

          Please excuse the typos.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      LL – you say “growing more” here, Not when millions of houses are going to be built just to handle our ever expanding 3rd World immigration numbers. Import the 3rd World – become the 3rd world.

      This is an island – NOT the Tardis.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Read Carole Malone in the Daily Express. Arrogant officials failing us. Quite!

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      As prepared as they were for leaving the EU four years ago. Can we expect further pandemic planning to take four years because it will never happen?

    • NigelE
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Can’t argue with you on this, LL.

      I also had a laugh at Sir John’s words: “occasional delays in the public sector”!

      (Admittedly taken out of context.)

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        One of my commercial premises has an official but illegal electricity supply, bare wires within reach. Northern Powergrid are replacing it at their cost. Delay thus far 18 months! My building works stalled while they ‘plan their schedule’ ‘get permission to dig up the road’ on and on. 184 communications between me and them thus far. And I had to pay £488.00 plus VAT for the quote (non returnable)!

    • zorro
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Although I do think that the government has panicked and is not thinking things through, it is also clear that it has not properly prepared and that must be the clear lesson from this and the buck stops with the army of overpaid bosses in PHE/NHS.


  6. oldtimer
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    After this pandemic has run its course and after the likely devastation of the economy there will need to be hard thinking about how to prepare for the next pandemic. The cost of such precautionary measures will be small relative to the consequential costs of being unprepared as we will discover soon enough. That thinking will need to consider strategic stockpiles of essential products (both protective and medical). It will also need to consider what R&D and productive capacity should be encouraged and developed. Recent events demonstrate that health security, along with food and defence security, are vital national interests.

    • Javelin
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      I think the NHS and Public Health England need to be audited and stress tested by external auditors.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      “The cost of such precautionary measures will be small” – indeed it could be trivial in the scheme of things. Proper pandemic planning could have be done and can be done very, very cheaply indeed and have been very effective. All that was needed with a few decent medical people, engineers and numerates. Doubtless the government spent a fortune failing to do it properly. Probably using countless overpaid people with few such skills.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        With various committees and endless consultations doubtless too.

      • DavidJ
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Same as ever:

        “Piss poor planning = piss poor performance”

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        So who is supposed to organise all this?

        Oh, yes. The State.

        • NickC
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Don’t be silly, most big businesses do contingency planning for themselves. For example, they planned for different Brexit outcomes, but had to wait for the Parliament to accept the democratic vote to Leave. Anyone waiting for “The State” will grow cobwebs.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Border control and a health service might help?

      • zorro
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Yet more small boats are crossing the Channel this weekend and those on them are being let free to roam this country whilst we are assiduously planning to release criminal early from prison…..


        • glen cullen
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          You couldn’t make it up…..remember 1st duty of govt is to keep the UK safe

          • zorro
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            A bit of a sick joke at the moment with their current policies….


    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      It will not of its own accord “run its course”, according to epidemiologists.

      It would become endemic, like the common cold, and wage attrition against an ageing population.

      Radical action is needed in all countries.

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        It will do that anyway.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          It may well do in the US, and possibly here too, but there is no inevitability about that.

          It just means that the responsible world would have to quarantine all people coming from here to their countries.

          Let’s hope that a vaccine can be promulgated, but there’s no certainty to that.

          • Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            does the U.K. quarantine people from South Africa where bubonic plague is endemic?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

            If you tried to travel from here to China just now, then China would quarantine you.

      • NickC
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        No, it would not become endemic “like the common cold”. The SARS-CV-2 virus is relatively stable, whereas the common cold mutates rapidly and persistently. That is why “herd immunity” would work for the one and not the other.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          That theory is as yet unproven, you may be correct, may be not.

          • Freddie H
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            thanks for that. Insightful.

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            Martin, The SARS-Covid-2 virus is stable compared with the common cold viruses. We know that for a fact. It may become unstable in the future, but that is a theory as yet unproven.

  7. Al
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I find the government sending mixed messages (again). First they say we want to go back to normal and yet despite so many doctors saying hydroxychloroquine is the best treatment, and the case reports from France and China, the UK will not allow it to be prescribed – despite getting ready to ration ventilators! It is not a miracle drug, but it does appear to drop the viral load.

    There are procedures in place to fast track drugs, especially an existing and tested one being repurposed. They should be being followed. Alternatively, declare a widescale test of it and allow patients to opt-in. If the alternative is no treatment whatsoever, then there will be people choosing to take it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      There seems to be little harm in trying it. Do they have any?

      • zorro
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Bearing in mind that it has been used for years as an effective treatment, there is no reason whatsoever for it not to be used to alleviate suffering. This government is thrashing around because it has seriously cocked up and knows that there will be a political reckoning. I see that ‘mild symptom’ BB has invited Keir Starmer to Downing St. The Labour Party would be very foolish to tie themselves to this government.


    • BOF
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink


    • dixie
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Which doctors are saying that drug is “the best”, but at what point in the progress of the infection and what are the risks?

      According the the journal Science, 27 March 2020, vol 367 issue 6485, page 1413;

      “Studies in cell culture have suggested chloroquine can cripple the virus, but the doses needed are usually high and could cause severe toxicity. “Researchers have tried this drug on virus after virus, and it never works out in humans,” says Susanne Herold, an expert on pulmonary infections at the University of Giessen.”

      It goes on to say;

      “Results from COVID-19 patients are murky. Chinese researchers who treated more than 100 patients touted chloroquine’s benefits in a letter in BioScience, but they did not publish data. And WHO says “no data has been shared” from more than 20 other COVID-19 studies in Chinausing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine.”

      So who can one believe?

      The WHO initiated a broad coordinated, international trial (SOLIDARITY) of multiple drug treatments to try to identify effective treatments. But there is no magic bullet yet.

      • Al
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are not the same drug. Chloroquine was withdrawn due to its side effects, and replaced with Hydroxychloroquine which was developed, tested and proved to have fewer side effects, which is why it is in common use for a range of conditions.

        • dixie
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Please look at the second copied quote – the issue is that there is no actual evidence or data backing up the Chinese claims on either drug.

          • Al
            Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            The Wuhan study released yesterday showed a 25% improvement vs a control group, and there’s a New Jersey microstudy underway showing a similar rate.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately it can have very untoward side effects.

      It depends what legal precedents exist in a given jurisdiction as to the action and remedies which may sought.

      It would be hard to prove that someone given it would not have survived anyway. If they suffered side effects, then these were undue, therefore.

      Yes, that’s how the law can work

      • Al
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        That is why the rollout for widescale tests requires an opt-in and waiver.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        The patient should be able to sign away their legal rights to sue if they want to try the drug.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          That might require an Act Of Parliament.

          Ask a compensation lawyer.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Before posting ill-informed comments like this why not inform yourself by watching yesterday’s press conference where the issues you raised were all addressed in full ? In summary, UK is leading in clinical trails of various treatments, trials have been running for 3 weeks already with 900 people involved in one of them. Trials are on some already-licensed drugs like hydroxychloroquine and HIV drugs but also some new options.

      I mean, how hard is it for you to watch a press conference for 30 minutes ?

      • Al
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        And if you believe what the government says, I have a bridge to sell you. We were told for three years that May was trying to deliver Brexit!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Cameron even gave us a “cast iron” guarantee on the Lisbon treaty, said he was a low tax Conservative at heart, claimed to be a Eurosceptic and would stay on after the referendum and serve the section 50 notice the next day!

          Lies lies lies and yet more lies!

    • James1
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Is anyone keeping an eye on where the numerous billions of ponds are coming from to pay the 80% salaries etc., of millions of people? Are we going to be faced with Zimbabwean style inflation in a year or two, with people having to decide whether to pay their mortgages or buy a sandwich?

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately we were already suffering an epidemic when the Corona virus hit. It was (and is) killing tens of thousands of people each year, mostly men, and was infecting many NHS workers too. It was bringing the NHS to the point of bankruptcy with departmental consultants crying out for more and more funding for other treatments.

      This ‘disease’ was easily averted by people listening to simple advice but they refused to take it – instead of banning the substances which caused it they let the people carry on taking them in large doses and absolved them of any personal responsibility by calling the problem a ‘disease’. They even tried to normalise it by making it fashionable.


      And I believe we are now in lock-down because so much of our population are afflicted with the avoidable comorbidities which Covid 19 preys upon – caused by obesity.

      I believe our politicians have been shown the statistics on pre existing conditions, across the entire age range, taken fright and shut down the economy.

      The slogan is “Stay at home. Wash your hands. Save lives. Save the NHS.”

      Before all this started it’s such a pity it hadn’t been “Save lives. Save the NHS. STOP EATING CAKE !”

      But then – no matter how true – that would have been politically incorrect.

      Political Correctness has brought us to bankruptcy. If we carry on the only way to feed our population anything at all will be communism – which led to people eating bats in China.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Last time I went into a church (a delightful one somewhere near Stamford or Rutland I think) it was teaming with bats and bat dropping. The next pandemic might easily come from a “wet” C of E church somewhere in England.

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

          Not enough in the congregation.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink


      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I agree with this, but I think it is not just PCness. We have had decades of being told to get off red meats, dairy and eggs together with protein recommendations at the 15% end not the 35% end. People have not been saited and have increased their plant consumption of carbs, sugars and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          Caterpillar indeed. There is now good evidence to show that low fat diets are in fact not healthy. A diet low in carbs and high in healthy fats is better. It’s good for diabetics and weight loss. We have been ill advised over many years to eat low fat and yet the population has got bigger and there is more heart disease than ever. We can safely go back to eating eggs and meat cream butter and consume less carbs.

        • Anonymous
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

          The fact that we have a society so exposed to the lethality of Covid 19 (because of pre existing conditions) is a credit to us.

          It means that ours has been a compassionate society. One that has provided medicines to keep alive those who might have died before Covid 19 emerged in China.

          Instead we will beat ourselves up because China’s mortality rate is better than ours. Well OF COURSE IT IS !

          They probably weren’t as good at keeping ill people alive in the first place.

          But that’s taking their figures at face value anyway.

    • rick hamilton
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      I am currently marooned in Tokyo. Japan has at present about 80 deaths and there is no ‘house arrest’. They do have a drug (Avigan) developed by a Japanese manufacturer, which has already been approved both in Japan and in China and is widely used there. It isn’t a cure but it does arrest progress towards often fatal pneumonia. I have seen no mention of this in the British media.

      Japan, with twice the population of the UK, has about 1.5 million hospital beds, about 10 times as many as the NHS. Not to mention 7 times as many hospitals. Their national system is focused on maintaining personal health, with free annual checkups, flu vaccinations and general focus on good lifestyle. You rarely see an obese person and life expectancy is high.

      The system is excellent, encourages competition between medical providers to drive out the underperformers and the patient pays a percentage of the cost, as in most countries. There is a cap on payments for very serious conditions. You go anywhere you wish for treatment snd there is very little waiting. That’s the only way to create an effective system where the patient is treated as a valuable customer. They have a saying: ‘Theres’s nothing so expensive as something that’s free’.

      It is impossible to have a state-run institution providing an essential service free of charge without waste and inefficiency. The Soviets proved that conclusively. If people prefer to spend their cash on having a good time and won’t pay a penny for their own health then something is seriously wrong.

      • Freddie H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        I am currently marooned in Tokyo…..depends on what marooned implies. Wonderful place -fond memories.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    To do this the UK need to be competitive in the World and main thing making the UK uncompetitive is the size of government, much of which is in the business of taxing, licensing, over regulating and hugely inconveniencing the productive at every turn.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      This while providing very little of any real value by way of public services. The lack of NHS capacity and competent pandemic planning is currently the main reason for the economic lock down.

      An excellent way to get productivity up (to repay this economic black hole) would be to stop giving student loans for “hobby” subjects and get these people out to work instead. At least half of current degrees are a waste of this £50K and of three (or more years). Better to learn on the job for most with evening schools or day release courses as needed.

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        My Computer engineering training company was expected to turn out engineers in 6 months, one of our students came straight from a 3 year degree course in ‘Latin American Dancing’!

        • Fred H
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          you’ve been ‘tango’d’

        • glen cullen
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          and you’ll probably have been funded at lot less than university

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        The universities have far too much power. Successive governments have done a great disservice to students, parents, taxpayers and our economy by supporting a deceitful funding system that is milked by the universities.

        It’s not just “hobby” subjects. A real problem is that many professions are now degree-only entry, when in the past there were professional exams that people training in those professors could take. Those who came up through the ranks in this way were vastly more experienced than fast-track degree entrants, and were not saddled by vast student loans.

        The government should force many of the professions to reopen these routes to qualification.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          I agree. Also in areas like Medicine does one really need to spend 10 years to qualify as a surgeon only then to do endless Knee, Hip, appendix, or cataract operations. Why not spend just one year learning to do just the one area you need the practical skill for. Other experts can be called in when are where particular other illnesses are relevant.

          • glen cullen
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink


        • glen cullen
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          spot on – why does a police officer or nurse need an academic degree or a teaching lecturer need a Phd

          Because the generation of courses makes money for universities which are private companies

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Talk of a list of “talented women” in the Labour Party (on radio 4 just now) – who are kept out of the shadow cabinet. Sure and who would these talented women in the Labour Party be then? True there are no talented men either in the party anymore.

    But then no one remotely “talented” or remotely decent would want to join such an organisation. Driven as it largely is by bitter envy, identity politics, moronic political correctness, the state sector unions, class war, a desire to thieve private assets, regulate everything even more and to destroy the economy in short order.

    The BBC also keep going on about “Lovely Mother Nature”. Things like this coronavirus perhaps they mean? Nature is red in tooth and claw, perhaps they have not noticed?

  10. Javelin
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Sit Humphrey said “9/10 mistakes were not conspiracy but cock-ups.”

    There are two bio saftey labs in Wuhan.

    Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention – Bio Saftey Level 2 – 900 ft from the wet market.

    Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) – Bio Saftey Level 4 – miles from the wet market on the outskirts of Wuhan.

    “the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national center for China’s bat virus research.” – Washington Times

    Biosafety level 2 is suitable for work involving agents of moderate potential hazard to personnel and the environment. This includes various microbes that cause mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting. – Wikipedia

    I think the Wuhan Flu leaked out of the Wuhan Centre for disease Control (CDC) Bio Safety Level (BSL) 2 lab, where research is done on bats, because a BSL-2 lab does NOT protect against diseases transmitted by aerosols and the Wuhan flu is transmitted by aerosols.

    So even if every researcher in the Wuhan CDC followed the rules and did not make a mistake the “cockup-up” was the assumption that bat viruses cannot be transmitted by air borne droplets.

    • NickC
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Javelin, I too believe (until there is other authoritative evidence) that the SARS-CV-2 virus was accidentally released from the Wuhan CDC.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Or maybe research bats were stolen by a poor laboratory cleaner and sold to the wet market.


      The Chinese government should have got a hold of this situation earlier instead of arresting doctors. They should have closed their own airports instead of infecting the globe.

      It seems they are now rearranging the world order while we are in lockdown – and while Putin is patrolling the English Channel with his war ships.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        The Chinese didn’t have three weeks warning from CV-stricken Italy like the UK did.

        They have an excuse, therefore.

        Your post is rather ironic, I think.

        • NickC
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          Martin, The Chinese didn’t have three weeks warning from CV-stricken Italy like the UK did, they had 9 weeks warning. But the communist government chose to ignore, then suppress, their own doctors’ reports.

          They didn’t have an excuse, therefore.

          Your comment is rather ironic, I think.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Perhaps when Starmer is elected today all the daft socialists in the Conservative Party might join him. Theresa May, Cameron, Greg Clark, Soames, Hammond, Osborne types are essentially the same politically as Starmer.

    Then again best not as it might give Labour a majority – so stuffed with pro EU, socialists is the current Conservative Party.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I knew I should have bet on him earlier – not worth it now at 1:100.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        At least the Tory northern heartlands are safe. I can’t see Stormer going down well in the north west pubs and clubs.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          Nor me, The last thing the country needs is to be led by a lefty, PC, big government pushing, tax to death, pro EU, lawyer. He is, I suppose, about the only member of the shadow cabinet who can actually string a full meaningful sentence together.

          Even if it is usually a totally misguided one.

        • NickC
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Sir Joe, I think the word ‘devious’ was invented for Starmer. How he has managed to play off the different factions within Labour is a wonder to behold.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

            What about Boris and the Conservative Party? Might be a challenger for that honour – we wait to see.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Labour Party obviously raging sexists you chose the only man when they had a bevvy of brilliant women on offer! Surely they can be prosecuted?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink


        You mean every member who voted for Starmer?


  12. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    One of the pro-remain arguments turned on the UK not being able to maintain its fresh water supply, because of our dependency on imported treatment chemicals.
    Should the suppliers be forced to reduce production owing to reduced staff and problems in their supply chains, will the governments where they are based seize the chemicals for local needs?
    What has our government planned to ensure fresh water supplies?

  13. Kevin
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    In a response to Martin Howe QC, Downing Street apparently said that it takes on average 730 days for significant new rules to pass through the EU. With 1st July fast approaching, and issues such as those you highlight above, it is worth remembering that there are 272 days till the Conservatives’ gift to the EU of legislative power over the UK expires (Arts. 126 and 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement); or, 1,002 days if Number 10 offers it the three-year, “premium vassalage”, upgrade (Art. 132).

  14. Margaret Howard
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink


    “The UK is discovering that it cannot rely on China and Germany for some imports at a time of virus crisis …….. when we cannot always rely on abroad to supply the things we really need.”

    How much reliance can these two countries have on us supplying them with scarce commodities they might need themselves in this crisis?

    Do they owe us more than we owe them? Will they blame us rather than their own experts/politicians for their own inadequate planning shambles?

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink


      I saw in the Spanish press this week that the French had requisitioned 2 million pieces of PPE, out of a shipment of 4 million, bound for Spain. The Swiss supplier will now route future deliveries via Belgium (and thence by sea, keeping out of French territorial limits). The Spanish were livid. So much for “solidarity”!

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Hey? How can they blame the U.K.? What exactly are you suggesting Germany and China blame us for?

      The U.K. has had our industries moved out of the U.K., encouraged by big subsidies the EU gave them to move, increasing the transport miles and reliance on these other Countries, it wasn’t the workers in British Manufacturers who welcomed this – I know people still not recovered from being made redundant earlier than they should.

      It’s pathetic that France and Germany went into protection mode on ppe it showed their true colours, so we were expected to be all free movement blah blah and they’re like not keep it, we might need it now’. If you think your beloved EU are coming out of this well you are kidding yourself.

    • NickC
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Margaret H, What “scarce commodities” has the UK withheld? Your characteristic is to always blame your own country even when you have had to invent your accusation.

  15. Everhopeful
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I suspect that use of hydroxychloroquine is all caught up ( still) in EU regs which maybe we still follow?
    They only allow it to be used for cv in trials or emergency use programmes (?).
    They also apparently need to keep up their stocks of it for lupus patients.
    Perhaps the UK just does not have the freedom to act boldly?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Why don’t you research the facts and give some useful information?

      • Mark
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          Yes, and the EMA used to be based in London, so we have now lost that and all the jobs, expertise and related networks.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            Just another layer of bureacracy.
            The UK and European nations have their agencies perfectly able to do the same job.
            Duplication not needed.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            Yes, all the national ones can soon be scrapped at greatly increased efficiency.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            No the national ones continue.
            We have our own agency in the UK

  16. Ian Wilson
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Ineos have produced disinfectant in quantity at creditably short notice but be it noted Jim Ratcliffe stated some years ago that 28 British chemical plants closed after the Climate Change Act was passed with its resulting crippling energy costs. Much of that capacity migrated to the USA with its cheap fracked gas. We need indigenous manufacturing to handle crises like this one.

    Yet, so help us, the government are still heading headlong down their suicidal zero carbon route.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Exactly Ian.

  17. Jim
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Well most respectable economists reckoned Brexit would hit the UK economy a bit.

    Now we have a much bigger hit and Brexit is knocked into the long grass, whether it will ever be found again is I suppose a worry for some. Certainly supply chains are disrupted, this is the modern equivalent of a war and no-one is buying cars anyway. Although freezers have been selling well.

    Mr Trump moaned about China, what did US manufacturers do. Re-shore? – no, too expensive, they moved the work to Vietnam or India. The real problem is that the US is an ageing beauty, she has noticed the lines and wrinkles and also noticed a new younger girl on the block. So Ms USA starts throwing a tantrum.

    The US has many excellent top class industries but look underneath and you can see parts that are very clunky. Not all is wonderful. As for cheating, the US has done its share, but a long while back.

    The big question is whether Europe is better to cosy up to China and Asia or to the USA. Where is the long term future and profit? Mainland Europe will probably cosy to China. But the UK has always been mid-Atlantic, at least a good slab of the Tory party has. Whether that is such a smart idea time will tell. IMHO we will dither and lose out.

    Very fashionable to knock globalisation. Especially as politicians now struggle to counter the employment effects on the one hand whilst the capitalists make out like bandits on the other. My money is with the capitalists and more globalisation.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Presuming that this is the worst and last virus to come out of China. (“Better to cosy up to China”)

      Airborne ‘ebola’ with a 14 day incubation, anyone ?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Worse things have come from other places.

        Like HIV/AIDS fro Africa, for instance.

    • NickC
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Jim, I don’t think there was any “respectable” economist who said that “Brexit would hit the UK economy. There were some Remain economists who claimed we would be better off after Brexit, just not quite as much better off.

  18. agricola
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    At the moment, in terms of car components, even if they got to the UK they would have to remain stored until such time as the industry got going again post Covid 19. Additionally government has got to decide how it is going progress on restart. On top of Covid 19 can we afford to indulge in the manic race to green while ignoring science and technology. A lot of rethinking needs to take place in many areas. We cannot stagger on in the same old way we did before this medical disaster.

  19. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Agree flexibility is the key.

    I have to say I am pleasantly surprised how quickly the government have moved on most things, as have many organisations in the private sector, but yet again it seems to be the public sector and its quangos who drag their feet, and as usual, the Banks always want to make money with their greedy fingers into every scheme that involves finance.

  20. William Long
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    As you say, if nothing else the situation we are in demonstrates the need for far greater self sufficiency and that will only come from the ingenuity and application of the private sector.
    I should like to know more however, about how you define cheating in the context of international trade? The fact is that the Chinese are an industrious and very clever nation, particularly when it comes to developing and improving existing products. There are a great many of them, so their labour is relatively cheap, and as a result they have been able to undercut most of the rest of the world in the market for manufactured goods. Surely that is the very stuff of free competitive markets?

  21. Everhopeful
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Supply chains only work for everyone at local level.
    Especially in a crisis, as can clearly be seen now.
    ( and by the way…. the supermarkets are struggling….whatever they pretend!!).

    How govts raced to sell off our industry!
    How they loved outsourcing to get down unit costs!
    How they delighted in flattening borders to massage GDP! ( 1918 pandemic vast movement of people).
    How they LIED that “centralised” hospitals were more efficient!
    How they fought to get rid of single Dr surgeries.
    How they ruined lives and livelihoods…for what??

    Fat lot of good it all did.
    To misquote…the tide has gone out and the system is discovered to be naked.

    PS…what is the use of govt threatening people with more draconian lockdown when planes ( part of our “supply chain?) are still flying and illegals are arriving in their hundreds using up these unicorn testing kits?

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink


  22. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Never forget that we voted on June 23rd 2016 to leave the EU. That’s almost 4 years ago.

    Significant reasons for voting Leave were us becoming more self-sustaining with our own produce and restricting entry to those we don’t want or need. This would only have been of help to us in times such as these.

    Had we left the EU the following day as promised by Cameron, or even left withing the following three years as promised by May, we would be a lot nearer these goals than we are.

  23. NeverCrushedBrexit
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Dear Sir John

    Do you have any idea why the number of Recovered cases for the UK remains at a depressing and laughably untrue, 135 cases?

    Other countries are able to report recovery why not the UK?

    Let’s see some good news please.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      It is not a very useful figure to have anyway, but clearly 135 is nonsense. I tend to think the NHS should concentrate on getting their capacity up and helping those needing serious medical care to reduce mortality wherever possible. This rather than worrying about counting those who have recovered (who perhaps did not even ever need any treatment) even the testing should take second place to this.

      Especially as it is highly likely we will be in the Italian position in just 14 days time.

      Italy give figures of 28,741 in hospital, 4,068 in intensive care, 52,579 isolated at home, 85,388, 9,758 discharged from hospital and 14,681 have died. I image the UK figures will be roughly in proportion to these now and about the same as these figures in two weeks time.

      • NeverCrushedBrexit
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        It is not just “worrying” about counting recovery numbers.

        In war-time we don’t just see casualty numbers, we see the good news about the victories achieved.

        Despite making possible excuses why the NHS does not report recoveries…Other countries manage to report recovery numbers, despite their own pressures, and the WHO also believes that recovery numbers are significant enough to report.

        It is good for morale to understand that people are recovering.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          And what effect does it have, to see that in some countries, no one at all is dying of the virus any more?

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            If you believe them, as you do Martin.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      recovered cases remain at 135 and
      serious/critical remain at 163

      are any of these figures to e believed ?

  24. Peter
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    It is essential that the UK still departs the EU on the planned date. Continuity Remain are trying to use corona virus lockdown as another justification for delay.

    On the contrary, the UK government should make it clear we no longer have time for playing games and we will now leave on WTO terms. The issue is then resolved and we move on.

  25. We were young...
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Large growers, take for example in this case the massive orange crop in Florida ( and elsewhere ) suffered a malady which wiped out whole crops. This is always a danger as with the chicken and egg producers in the USA, along came a virus, and destroyed massive amounts at one go. Coffee too at times suffers massively in one country but not the next. Weather, frost, can destroy whole crops. Some S. American countries got unusual frost this last six months , Argentina?
    In regard to the EU, there are differing climates but generally if one nation gets an itch they all scratch.This was the case with rabies and, Colorado beetle that devastated crops in Eastern Europe in communist times. So too frost in Poland with poorly stored potatoes turned them yellow inside which is okay but turned the carbohydrate to sugar which is not okay necessarily unless you like sweeter potatoes. Still edible.
    In the 1950s kids used to get half a crown or maybe a full five shillings if they captured one such beetle and took it to a police station to say where they found it. Enterprising times though our gang spent many hours going through fields where we trespassed and didn’t find one! Those were the days my friends…. we were One but not ourselves having a crown for beetle seen by trespass.

    So it is better we make our own food as much as possible( we are surrounded by a natural border the sea)e and source our foods otherwise from a multitude of jurisdictions. We must not be reliant on Europe any more than any nation there should be reliant on us or on one another entirely.

  26. ukretired123
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Charles Moore has grasped the NHS bureaucracy system nettle log jam at long last!
    IBM and other giants learned to flex and adapt decades ago when books like “When Elephants learn to Dance” was launched.
    Apple Inc grew so big it was split into 4 companies focussing on different yet complimentary roles. This is long overdue for the NHS where it’s got too many chiefs and not enough indians. Propped up with billions it has been a money pit and needs drastic surgery itself!
    The role reversal where we have to save it by staying away from it exposes its less hyped hypocrisy!
    Another book “Small is beautiful” implies rightly Big bureaucracies are ugly and wasteful.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Indeed bureaucracy, over regulation, top down management and red tape strangles the state sector just as it does the private sector. But in the private sector the duff businesses get put out of business (or bought out) by more efficient ones.

      In the state sector these organisations just grow and grow feeding off the taxpayer and rendering it uncompetitive. The NHS is “free” at the point of use too, so has no real competition hard to compete with “free”. One reason why the USA as 5 times the numbers of ventilators per head.

      • Otto
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        ‘the USA as 5 times the numbers of ventilators per head.’ But how many sufferers can afford to use them? Or can everyone in need have one for free?

        • ukretired123
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          At a time of National emergency cynicism should be avoided and constructive ideas take their place N’est pas?

        • NickC
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

          Otto, The government of the USA spends approximately the same per head on health as the UK government does. So there are “free” (taxpayer funded) hospitals in the USA. Most western countries’ governments spend about the same. It’s just that in other countries private spending is vastly greater than ours.

  27. George Brooks.
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    One element of achieving success is to recognise opportunities and good fortune when they occour and your blog today, Sir John, does just that. The resultant effect of this Covid-19 pandemic may well turn out to be heaven sent.

    For the past three and a half years Remainers have been telling us that when we leave the EU British industry will suffer, supply chains will fail and the UK’s economy will shrink to a level from which it will be almost impossible to recover. Along comes Covid-19 and screws the lot up right round the world and gives us the opportunity to repair and replace those supply lines as we want them and not as the EU directs us.

    We are all back on the same starting line and these supply chains cannot just be ‘switched on’ they have to be rebuilt and this gives us a fabulous opportunity to change and up-grade them as we want and not as that bureaucratic monster the EU would direct. We can be out of the starting blocks and well down the track to recovery before the EU has held it’s first council meeting.

    This interruption to world trade under pins all the reasons for us to cut free from the EU and manage our own affairs in line with the needs of many more countries around the globe. We have been, for several centuries, a global trading nation and that is where we should be heading right now.

    The PM, when he recovers which I hope will be very soon, needs to shut the Remoaners up and save us from a rash of time-wasting plots and state that we leave the EU on December 31 and the Transition period will NOT be extended.

    The UK has a fabulous chance to come out of this very difficult time right on top. We are nimble, creative and hard working and have all the other attributes to make a howling success of recovering from this pandemic

  28. BJC
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    We never asked for globalisation or mergers into huge, shady conglomerates; we were told it was what we needed because we demanded “cheap” goods. This was a barefaced lie/fraud as we all know monopolies, whether localised or global, removes competition and sets inflated pricing.

    A “free” market is all well and good, but routinely selling our assets to the highest bidder has removed other freedoms of far more value to us than a choice of 30 varieties of the same product. Global corporates have been allowed to take the easiest and most profitable route, buying up the competition and holding us all to ransom. We now have a unique opportunity to review our overall domestic policy to increase our own skills and capacity to, say, 60% of our domestic needs. We need many smaller, diverse businesses to ride any storms and a professional standard of governance to understand their true worth to our society.

  29. Fred H
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    So Sir John, are you now doing a u-turn on globalisation? And about time too!
    Globalisation can only work if all participants play fair, equal wage rates, no political, military or medical suspensions.
    Perhaps as I have been saying -we need self interest first. Encourage maximum food production here, offer incentives for entrepreneurs not taxation! Discourage the import of luxury goods that at the end of the day are mostly labels for keeping up with the Jones’.
    Step up real border controls, remove the Barnett formula, apply stringent tariffs on foreign dumping here, remove the major cost of Foreign Aid ( especially where the countries have space programs, buy expensive military weapons, do not tackle poverty), abandon projects with little or no benefit to sizeable numbers of our population.
    If any good is to come out of this virus, it is the rude awakening of how we are are at the mercy of other countries.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      No globalisation can be very good too.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        do you mean :
        No! – Globalisation can be very good too.

        No Globalisation!

        You are learning how to be a politician – well done.

  30. Irene
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    One supply chain has vanished recently, resulting in a deficit of something like 70,000 workers now needed to harvest the fruit and veg from our fields. Unless that deficit is sorted, we will have even more to worry about. It perhaps should be the preferred form of employment for all those people previously complaining about ‘foreigners’ taking all the jobs available. They should now be invited to put their muscle where their mouth once was.

    I also seem to recall that one senior government adviser suggested to the Chancellor that we don’t need our own farming and fishing industries at all, and that the food sector is not important to the UK economy. That was allegedly the case according to leaked personal emails – or so the Treasury claimed just a couple of months ago.

    You mention cheating. Isn’t that what all goverments do? While hoping that the people won’t notice. Time’s up on that one.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      My solution Irene would be to put all the able bodied men and women that are in asylum centres moaning all the time, all low risk prisoners in open prisons in the fields and living in the accommodation that all the previously imported labour were put in.

      I’ve seen farmers overplaying their hand about not low grade workers having necessary skills to use the machinery but the reporters never ask, “well how many people actually drive the machinery or operate it and if it’s such an important piece of kit why aren’t you training British workers living here to use it?” They’re just after cheap imported labour and easy fixes.

      • Irene
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink


        There was I labouring under then misguided belief that April Fool’s Day had been and gone this year. It’s clearly still alive and kicking.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Perhaps with the suspension of the tourist industry and empty holiday cottages, field workers might actually have a place they can stay and afford.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      One more point- anyone claiming unemployment benefit in the areas where these farms are that are able bodied need to put to work on these farms to feed the nation, co-ordinated by Job Centres, job centres could utilise private sector recruitment companies who are out of business at the moment if they can’t cope, minimum wage is better than benefits we’re told! If they refuse the jobs then stop the benefits.

      • Irene
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        First no deal was better than a bad deal. Then no test was better than a bad test. Now no money is better than no benefits. Got it. All sorted. Happy lockdown every one.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          So you don’t agree Irene that ‘a farm job is better than no job’?

  31. ChrisS
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It’s clear that most countries, including our own, have adopted the wrong strategy to prevent the Pandemic destroying lives and crippling economies.

    The most successful methods have been those adopted by South Korea, Singapore and to a lesser extent, Germany where the apparent death rate is by far the lowest in Europe.

    It might well be that the German death rate is a better example of how dangerous the virus actually is because they have tested far more people and presumably have identified far more people as having the illness. Their rigorous contact tracing must clearly have influenced the low number of cases and deaths.

    I don’t blame our government for initially choosing their delaying strategy, but, it has been obvious for some weeks that the German/Singapore/South Korea method has been far better. It would appear that we are at last changing to a mass testing model but it’s obviously far too little and too late.

    We are not going to be in a position to change tack for several weeks so in the short term we will have to accept the consequences to our economy and way of life.

    • mancunius
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      As international health monitors have agreed, the German death rate appearing to be lower per incidence has several reasons. The first wave of Germans were largely healthy young people – many had caught the disease on the ski slopes, and naturally survived, pushing down the death per incidence rate relatively to other countries.
      Also, while early testing undeniably enabled early diagnosis, isolation, assessment and treatment, discovering more cases through early testing also uncovered many mild cases, automatically lowering the death rate per incidence on paper.
      Where we might certainly learn from Germany, is that the government, employers etc know where the country’s citizens live (through obligatory address registration, the ‘Anmeldepflicht’), so rapid contact and monitoring by health services is possible. Here we haven’t the slightest idea who is actually in the country, let alone where they live. In order to identify, visit, and test, any health service needs accurate personal ID records. The UK’s are anything but.
      Btw German medics are anticipating a possible sharp rise in deaths, as the average age of infection rises beyond its current age of 49.

    • Mark
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Some interesting statistical comparisons from the Worldometers coronavirus site:

      Tests per million population, deaths per million population

      Italy………………10,870 – 254
      Germany………..10,962 – 16
      Israel……………..10,443 – 5
      S Korea……………8,875 – 3
      Switzerland ……17,729 – 74
      Sweden…………….3,654 – 37
      Iceland ………….69,276 – 12
      Luxembourg…..36,412 – 50
      Japan…………………312 – 0.5

      Israel and Sweden are only isolating the vulnerable and infected with no lockdowns. Korea’s achievement was on the back of very rigorous tracing of contacts of diseased persons and enforced quarantine. There is no evidence of any link between testing levels and reduced mortality.

      • Mark
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Note: there is a much better correlation between the number of tests per million population and the number of reported cases per million population. Those with a spreadsheet can copy the table of data and produce scatter plots of death and case rates against testing rates. I recommend using log scales on both axes.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Almost the entire medical and scientific community implored the Government to follow the methods used in S.Korea etc.

      They were ignored.

      • NickC
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        But you support the government’s policy of lockdown, Martin!

  32. ian terry
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    There are various good reasons to encourage more domestic production.

    SMEs do require funding when they are operating in the research, design and build of new products etc.

    Government should consider creating a Minister of the Dragons Den. If a SME can come up with new technology or expand their manufacturing base through market growth the department could help towards the financal costs for the designated project and ask for a percentage base in the business. Just like on Dragons Den. There has be other ways than where we are at, to give incentives to entrepreneurs. When successful the Government reaps their reward for taking the risk on the enterprise and when the loan is paid back they have the choice to continue or exit. It seems to work for the Dragons when they pick the right person/company.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Nice idea but the dragons are risking their own money, whereas our civil servants and politicians are playing with someone else’s money (ours, unfortunately). And the dragons are experienced, whereas the latter groups are not.

      But incentives for private investment in SMEs could be expanded to achieve a similar result to the one you suggest.

  33. Andy
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    It genuinely comes to something when you point to the current economic calamity and say, in defence of Brexit, it wouldn’t have been this bad. Staggering.

    If anything this has proven precisely the point Remainers made about disrupting supply chains.

    And, remember, food supply chains have still actually not faced massive disruption. Yet.

    It is also amusing that elderly Brexiteers who stockpiled toilet roll and who are outraged they they have to sit at home for a few weeks (which they would mostly have been doing anyway) talking about an end to globalisation. When this lockdown ends you will still all be booking your Caribbean cruises and replacing your South Korean made TV, upgrading your Chinese made mobile phone handsets and using software developed in America.

    Coronavirus has shown us how silly and unsustainable isolationism is. If the two world wars didn’t already give a very clear message of that.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I don’t think there’s any proposal for isolationism there, where do you read that?

      What the crisis is also showing up is the inadequacy and irrelevance of EU regional supra-national government. The Schengen Agreement has simply been ignored. The single market has been ignored with the embargoes on various exports. Freedom of movement has been ignored. And a huge row is brewing (again) over the unresolved issues of fiscal transfers and cross-guarantees on debt within the eurozone. Perhaps you aren’t aware of all that, it’s not getting much coverage on the BBC and I doubt the guardian spends any time on it.

      All governments are struggling with coping with the effects of the Wuhan virus. But the current structures of the EU / eurozone are being shown up as irrelevant and damaging. Yannis Varoufakis, who campaigned for Remain, now thinks the UK did the right thing to leave.

      We will see.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      You start will a false premise and then go on another rant.
      Who wants isolationism?
      Not the UK.
      Did you actually read the article?

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Andy, Brexiteers were never proposing isolation in fact the opposite they were proposing wider, and freer trading setting our trade policies for our own needs not just to shut the EU. The EU are having their own problems and it’s going get worse.

      Expect to see more nationalism and self-protection mechanisms on key items we’ve run out of in this crisis. You’re calling this wrong again.

      • Andy
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        I’m not. The people calling for protectionism are mostly rich and elderly. And they’ve now lost. The heroes are not the billionaire Tory donors or the bankers or the big businessmen.

        The heroes are nurses and doctors and hospital cleaners and supermarket workers and delivery drivers. The entire economic system which has kept Tory pensioners in power has collapsed and when we put it back together you will not be in power anymore.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          If you want nations like China dumping goods on Europe and USA then carrying on ruining iour industries and throwing skilled men and women out of work.
          Trump is fighting back against decades of totally unfair competition.

          • bill brown
            Posted April 6, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

            Edward 2

            Wrong again there are a number nations including UK and Denmark who have never joined the EURO nor do they have according to signed treaties

        • Fred H
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          Andy – how are you going to ‘put it back together’?

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          Im not a Tory Pensioner so your dart missed lol.

          I’m not at all confident in your ‘we’ as in ‘when we put it back together’, especially if this is the Labour Party you speak of, as the only thing Labour have been good at in my life is blowing through other people’s money and holding down the City near where I was born.
          Although I am quite impressed by a woman who made lots of mistakes as a young girl clawing herself up through the party ranks to be deputy leader, people shouldn’t underestimate her, although I do think she’s being used as a Prescott character to balance out the privilege and background of the Leader.

    • NickC
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Even Remain economists were predicting (guessing) that we would be better off out of the EU. You never could address the fact that most nations in the world are out of the EU, and prefer it that way. Your various economic doom rants were just so hilarious, not least because they missed the point of independence. What was vile was your gloating about the deaths of elderly Brexit voters. You have no credibility left.

    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Why is the public sector immune from cost cutting during this period of so called ‘national crisis?

    The private sector is utterly flexible to the point of self-harm and implosion. It dies and then regenerates like a phoenix from the flames. It is driven, energetic and ingenious at times like this. Indeed the private sector and its ability to respond to change EXPOSES the sheer gormless and listless nature of the public sector

    This PM is a charlatan. He’s undermined the private sector for one reason, the NHS. A Tory PM targeting those who pay the nation’s bills and produces its wealth. And now he propagates One Nation Tory symbolism using the NHS and the Queen as its rallying point.

    Now we need ‘carers’ like we’re invalids and dependents. It is beyond pathetic. It is beyond socialist propaganda. It is public sector social engineering to create reliance, dependency and afford political control over behaviour

    Well, the private sector doesn’t work politically, it’s been forced to work politically which may explain why Banks are cancelling dividend payments on the altar of ‘we’re all in together’ crap

    Starmer will become leader of the Marxist rabble next week. The voter by and large are ignorant and won’t appreciate Starmer’s past, his politics and his history because the leftist BBC won’t allow that. So I see the foundations being laid of a Labour victory at the next GE

    This government’s encouragement of socialist thought and their ‘look to the State’ ethos is akin to 1945 when Attlee came to power.

    It doesn’t help with this PM concocting a wartime environment. It’s just so lame. It’s a political tactic that goes back to the dawn of man.

    We’re not stupid and we know we’re being played like pupppets


      Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Starmer and Rayner elected which may explain Johnson’s invite to all the party leaders to a join him at a meeting of ‘national unity’. Maybe Corbyn’s gone, but McLuskey’s still pulling the strings. People need to understand that Labour’s still a rancid entity

      This isn’t 1939. Millions won’t die.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        At present mortality and rates of infection, around the world, it appears that about 150,000,000 will die unless a vaccine or cure is found, or effective measures to prevent its spread are imposed globally.

        • mancunius
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          That’s a (dubiously) guestimated 150 million deaths assuming the estimated two-and-a-half year period before a vaccine can be safely launched. That would cover all deaths from flu and respiratory /heart /immunity weakness triggered *but not caused* by corona , and corresponds precisely to the current global aggregate mortality rates of ca. 60 million deaths per year.

          The new progression is lies, damn lies, statistics – and stochastically projected statistics based on ‘modelling’.

          You might as well take the Book of Genesis literally.

  35. John E
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Medicine production is another area where we are vulnerable and need to quickly recreate domestic capacity. India brought in an export ban very quickly. I think the assumption here was that there is enough stock in the system that we could restart production here before it was all used up. Well now would be a good time to start that process.

    We can only rely on imports for the “nice to haves”. We need much more domestic capability for the things that sustain basic daily life. Relying on any other country in a time of need isn’t working whatever economic theory says. Politicians, especially populist nationalist ones, are not rational economic actors and don’t act in the ways that Adam Smith would expect. That may work when times are good and prosperity is rising but it has gone out the window very quickly in these difficult times.

    We are very alone in the world at the moment and need to look out for ourselves.

  36. Anonymous
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    It seems that Spain and Italy (key EU members) can’t rely on supplies of medical equipment from Germany either.

    Germany has the lowest death rate from Covid 19.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      The Spanish press reported this week that the French had requisitioned half of a 4 million piece shipment of PPE, going from Switzerland to Spain.

      You can always rely on the French, bless ‘em!

    • Margaret Howard
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink


      Could that be why? And how much are we sending? Or do we only consider non EU members as deserving recipients?

      Germany Headed for Key Medical Kit Shortages, Experts Tell Paper
      By Eyk Henning and Stefan Nicola
      29 March 2020

      • Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Margaret; the EU is one country – that is what is says on the box. We are sharing everything with the 4 nations that make up our Country. Germany not sharing masks with Italy is like London not sending masks to Hartfordshire. That’s why it’s shocking!

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          No, the European Union’s senior figures make no such claims, even if you try to put those words into their mouths.

          • NickC
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Yes, they do, Martin. That is the point of one flag, one anthem, one (fake) parliament, one supreme court, one set of laws that all sub-states must obey, one currency (all must join eventually), one central bank, one CFP, one CAP, one CCP, one border, one CSDP, etc, etc. Wake up – the EU has been turning into one state for years – and you missed it.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Germany became the EU’s manufacturing centre.

        So what of the urgent distribution of German manufactured PPE throughout the bloc ?

        It is important to see how this federal superstate behaves in a crisis. Does it direct shared resources in firefighting missions ? Or is it every man for himself.

        Seems to be the latter.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      We do not have (perhaps Govt does) like for like comparisons of death rates FROM Covid19; countries are classifying differently. It is difficult to understand the German numbers. I guess we will not see this clearly until next year, assuming sufficient data has been collected. It will then need cohort adjustment, if data has been sufficiently collected. There will also need to adjustments for underlying factors, e.g. the number of healthy years of life expected after birth is significantly higher in Germany and Italy* than U.K. UK also has higher obesity levels. Additionally U.K. has higher level of flu vaccination, there is at least one potential direct and one indirect reason that this will negatively correlate with death rates.

      In terms of looking at public data, of course we can recalculate to daily deaths per million as each country records. We see Italy peaking at around 15, it may or may not be over the hump. We see Spain, Netherlands, France going higher into the 20s (but we dont know exactly what is recorded), U.K. currently about 8 but will go higher; interestingly the EU health consumer index both Netherlands and Switzerland rate highly, but you wouldn’t guess this from the published Covid 19 data.

      The other public data to watch is the doubling time for deaths in a country (assuming that country doesn’t change its reporting) and plot this both against time and against cumulative deaths. When this is remaining constantish at 2 to 4 the country is still in an exponential growth phase of deaths, it is only once this starts climbing that the country is moving up the linear part of the S-curve. The doubling time will be linearish then increasing gradient against time, but pretty much linear plotted against cumulative deaths. UK is currently not alone in being stuck at constant doubling time, plotting other EU countries for both sets of graphs i.e. (i) declared daily deaths per million against time and (ii) time for deaths to double against both time and cumulative deaths, is informative. [We could be more informed if we had access to admissions data and associated time to recovery/death but I can’t find that].

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        “will negatively” should be “could negatively”

  37. glen cullen
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I fully endorse the sentiment of your comments and applaud the flexible of industry

    However most the UK tier 2 & 3 supply chain companies needs help. The help they need is in removing endless red-tape and the establishment of a true level playing field against imported goods

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      And while we are about it it would be nice for British investors to have equal treatment in the U.K. as foreign investors. For instance CGT where their base is April 2019 and ours 1984!

  38. zorro
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    A lot of our suppliers are able to be flexible as required by using their productive capacity to diversify, and as you say the hold up can be in the bureaucracy around converting productive capacity because of certain regulations…. If there is one good thing that this situation has been able to demonstrate is that within short order we have been able to maintain a supply and distribution system (online direct to customer) which is able to flex in a time of national emergency. There is, therefore, no reason why it cannot happen in normal times. We have a great opportunity for UK producers to fill the hole in the domestic market from the more difficult ingress of imports we currently face.

    Of course, it was not planned like this… but it does show that the economic arguments in favour of our leaving the EU will work in practice


    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I agree zorro- if Boris goes back and signs up for more EU then I anticipate a riot of people at the end of their tether. The best time to invent new systems, manufacturing, distribution and find new partners is when Germany and France have gone into full on self-protection mode after keeping all the biggest research labs for themselves – they’ve woken the U.K. public up to this now. Don’t go signing up to pay off more Italian and Spanish debt when the U.K. will be crawling out of this on its knees.

      If I were Matt Hancock I’d be asking the few remaining clothing and textile companies how we can make reusable ppe and quick.

    Posted April 4, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Today Johnson extends the hand to Starmer. A few minutes later Starmer elected to lead the party of poison.

    Interesting timing, some with a more cynical bent might say coordinated and choreographed

    By his actions Johnson’s given Labour the government approval of normality and conventionality. Well done Boris, NOT. A tactical blunder by a politician so transparent and vacuous you can barely see him at times

    Labour, still run by a Stalinist, Len McCluskey. Starmer’s the puppet.

    Why do the Tories deliberately and strategically protect Labour from political harm? Is it to maintain the status quo in Parliament or to prevent Labour being replaced by a genuine conservative party led by genuine conservatives?

    With Blair MK2 installed expect to see Johnson morph into Cameron and that means no public sector reform, no reform at the BBC and no reform of Labour’s power base in the taxpayer financed public sector, party-time 24-7 sector

    While your average private sector worker will be sitting at home terrified, your average public sector worker will be stretched out in the garden soaking up the rays knowing they’ll still have a job, a fat pension, early retirement and flexible working to look forward to

    I just love EQUALITY

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      I agree Dominic something is beginning to get a big pong about it. Why aren’t furloughed and not working public sector workers on the same £2500 max pay per month deal the rest are on.

    • steve
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink


      “Why do the Tories deliberately and strategically protect Labour from political harm?”

      ….because they’re all in it together. Their common aim is to prevent this country from being strong again as it once was.

      But, their undoing will be their arrogant dismissal of wrath of the people. They’ll go too far one of these days, and end up running for their lives.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      If you had the needed qualifications, then those jobs were just as open to you as to anyone else, Dominic.

      That is equality.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Martin – – the old boys network, or private education has no bearing?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          Probably not as much as on senior positions in the private sector, no.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Why do the Tories deliberately and strategically protect Labour from political harm?

      I would argue that, it is better the devil you know than the one you do not. If Labour were to disappear tomorrow something would have to take its place. That something might turn out to be more preferable to the British voter than the Tories.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        OMG- you are not thinking the Lib-no-democrats are you?
        I hoped we had lanced that boil.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink


      There is no mention. NONE whatsoever of those making the true sacrifices here. Excepting nurses and doctors directly exposed to the perils of viral overload all we hear is “Praise the key workers. Praise the nurses. Praise the NHS. Praise the police…”

      All those people have jobs and a pay packed. Nothing has changed for them.

      There are people at home being told calmly (by someone in a secure job on a good wage and assured pension) “Stay at home. Do nothing.” Easy to say if you’re doing so when not terrified of losing your home having already lost your job or your business with no money to feed your kids.

      Where is the praise for these people ?

      You know. The ones who paid for the NHS in the first place and who are now put below those who have never worked and even below prematurely released prisoners.

    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Starmer’s now the EU’s man in charge of Labour. The EU have a outrider at the very heart of Parliament.

    I am sure Johnson will exploit the CV-19 event to halt our exit from the EU.

    Never let a crisis go to waste and Johnson won’t…He’ll keep us in the EU and let the BBC-CH4 off the hook.

      Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink


    • Cal O’Brien
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      We left the EU over two months ago

  41. Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Trump is right about China and being a businessman he knew what to do. Pull the plug. He was initially also right about Coronavirus ‘my gut instinct is that this is not serious’ or similar words.
    Biggest mistakes I have ever made are the ones where I overrule my own instinct and act on the advice of an expert, – they never have the whole picture.

  42. George Brooks.
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    So much for the ”single market” and free movement.

    Germany bans exports of medical products and with several other EU countries shuts its borders. A good example of how the EU has been run.

    Do as I say, NOT as I do. And we have been daft enough to have accepted it for the last 40 years or so.

    • James
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Only goes to show that the EU is not a government and does not have that power to overrule whatever individual EU countries decide in their own national interests especially when it comes to matters of life and death.

      A lot of people are surprised by this, they expected the EU to have a bigger voice but as we see the EU is not a government, only a single market club for matters of European economy.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Yes, the European Union could never have imposed the present strictures on any member country.

        Only national governments can do that.

        This shows you where the real power is, and always has been.

        So clearly, anyone saying anything else was wrong.

        • NickC
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Why do you keep writing “European Union” rather than EU? Is it supposed to make the EU sound more cuddly?

          And you’re wrong about the “present strictures” (as usual). The EU tried to impose its open border policies but the nation states revolted. That’s not an example of the power of those states, it actually demonstrates just how much power to be silly the EU has. You don’t revolt against nothing.

  43. a-tracy
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    PHE another public sector body intent on rationing because they can’t cope, reduced staff levels and facilities- and our government rather than open this testing up quickly to the able private sector hand tied themselves (I feel in order to protect Ministers from being accused of privatising the health service). Well you know what unions and PHE up your game or lose the business, because we’re sick of paying for something we can’t get, like bin collections on the minor side and test kits on the major side.

    Move aside if you can’t do it. Sub-contract the work out within the U.K. and re-open our private labs and university labs.

    • anon
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps all public final salary schemes should be capped at £15,000 pa. The same as a universal basic income.
      Anyone not agreeing this should be converted to a money scheme,so they can invest it. We know unless ,connected, they will get incinerated.

  44. Lester Beedell
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    With each passing day I become even more cynical about politicians, I’ve voted Conservative in every election in which I was entitled to vote, I regarded it as my civic duty because people had given their lives for our Democracy, the only non-Tory vote was in the Euro Election when I voted for the Brexit Party to give May a proverbial kick up the pants!

    I understand that the mad Zero Carbon lunacy is still going ahead and that ancient woodland is being felled in preparation for HS2, I had absolutely no idea when I voted Conservative on December 12th that I was voting for the Green Party, for the first time in my life I’m not going to ever vote again as it seems to be a complete waste of time

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      correct the Tory Party IS appeasing the green lobby which is destroying industry as we know it

    • steve
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink


      “….for the first time in my life I’m not going to ever vote again as it seems to be a complete waste of time”

      You are not alone.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        I said pre-election I wouldn’t have voted Conservative, given previous administrations, but us having Sir John swung it here in Wokingham.

    • Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Always vote against the worst or the sitting incumbent. They hate being sacked so sack ‘em by voting for whomsoever can depose them. Then you make your vote count twice! And tell them what you intend to do. Gets their attention everytime.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately…if my understanding is correct…this lot has got a HUGE majority and 5 long years in power!
      The only consolation is that if t’other side had got in we’d all be in a slightly worse place.
      And THEY are apparently pushing for a post-Covid GE which they imagine they will win.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        if Boris doesn’t engage brain and do what he and his party were elected on, it might well be Starmer.

    • Will in Hampshire
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      John Redwood says: “Today we see supply chains badly disrupted… …it is curious we do not hear incessantly and regularly from those who used to be worried about these things, now there is something to worry about.”

      What a cheap, nasty shot that is. If he’d like to hear incessantly and regularly from Remainers who warned of these risks I’m sure many will be delighted to oblige, but it seems to me that most Remainers have for all the right reasons decided that there are far more pressing matters to which to attend.

      If it helps clarify the Remainer position on the subject of supply chain risks to the British economy, we can note that that many people pointed out that they were present when Leavers were all dreaming of a WTO exit, and recent events have simply confirmed this.

    • Stred
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      To say nothing about the Tories wrecking the BTL investments because they favour the banking and pension providers, who can’t compete with this and offer only worthless returns. The banking crash lead to QE and ultra low mortgage rates with high house price inflation. Now the government has seen the opportunity for a capital gains tax grab and is cynically pulling the rug. That’s two million votes it can forget in five years time.

  45. a-tracy
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Oh my 🤯 I’ve just spent 8 long minutes listening to Starmer’s long-whinded winners speech, as usual he talks of all of his union workforce members and names several of those connected to the NHS to get brownie points from an essential service provider to keep the subs coming in. But he made a mistake giving no nod to all those in the private sector supplies chains that actually provide an even service keeping you all fed and supplies getting to the hospital, the tools and equipment getting into hospitals with transport. Making out doctors are poorly paid shows he doesn’t even appreciate how much better they are paid than most people.

    The majority of health workers have indeed a great knowledge and are very essential but they are not the only cog. You’ve seen that they can’t do their vital job without supplies, what’s being implied by him can be turned on it’s head for example does he mean that because we can lay teachers off for three months they’re not vital? Politicians need to measure their words carefully it’s not worth alienating every one else that’s battling on (or have been compulsorily putin a position not to battle on – many who are blocked from working are volunteers to our NHS ) in order for him personally to gain favour with his unions who after all are their paymasters and the bonus feel good factor of people desperately scared of actually having to go to hospital as we’re presently told only 40% come back out.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Well, unlike some, he will be found to be utterly blameless, if the UK’s toll of fatalities from CV greatly exceeds that of other comparable countries.

      Won’t he?

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Well that’s a typical Labour type response never want to take responsibility for anything, kick the can down the road, then blame everyone who has to sort out the mess the party leave behind.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          In what way is this CV mess – far worse than it need have been – any fault of Labour’s?

          The Tories have an indefeasible majority in Parliament.

          • a-tracy
            Posted April 5, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            CV19 is not the fault of any political party. My issue with Starmers speech was that he failed to acknowledge all current workers keeping this country afloat and the sacrifices made by millions of others stopped going about their daily lives to sensibly protect our health service and other workers.

            There is plenty our conservative government has done that I have disagreed with personally and mentioned on this blog. But this is a world problem and we can’t operate in isolation. If you want just one Labour mistake to balance out my many criticisms about ppe going back to February is – we have a Labour Mayor in London who made a decision on cutting down the number of tubes before he should at key times of the day.

  46. Mark
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    The theory of comparative advantage assumes we don’t go around shooting ourselves in both feet with zero carbon green vanity measures. If we purposely make energy needlessly expensive and unreliable, and pile on regulations and taxes we end up making nothing, and having no income to buy imports even to feed ourselves.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Or with a deluded, and utterly unnecessary taking of a sledgehammer, to our profitable arrangements with the most advanced and sophisticated market in the world, by leaving the European Union on the disastrous terms that some commenters here – the extreme fringe only – demand.

      • Mark
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        The EU Commission are now as attached to zero carbon vanity as any, being supervised by Thunberg to implement it. Some of the countries that make up the EU appear to be much more sensible. We should join with the sensible ones and walk away from zero carbon policy and the EU.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Proud to be part of the extreme fringe as you call normal people who just want out of the little club.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, and there is not even any reason for this war on plant food.

  47. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I hope someone in government listens to these arguments and comments and takes them seriously. I fear they will just be aching to get back to normal but maybe they will be forced into a rethink. I’ve been banging on about this for quite a while and the globalist policies it has been following.

    I hope they will now drop the Open for Business slogan which in truth meant the country and its businesses and assets were for sale to anyone and we were desperate for the money. Loss of sovereignty and pride did not matter. That has got us Chinese and other dependency even in highly strategic areas. I call it neglect as a minimum.

    We must become significantly more self reliant and productive. Conventional economics says specialism is an efficiency gain but it does not work between competing nations when their aims are to subvert opponents interests. There are some very niave people at high levels on this country.

  48. George Brooks.
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    So my longer comment at 0857 wasn’t so easy to fit in??????

  49. Caterpillar
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Aside on testing NHS staff –

    I read that Germany was parallel testing its health workers i.e. 10 swabs tested together if negative no need to retest. If positive test individually. I am not sure if this is true or viable or even done in UK, but seems a rapid way to scale testing.

    • Chris Dark
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Was commonly done in labs when I worked in veterinary diagnostics many years ago. Batch the samples into one single “test” (fluid, culture plate, whatever), and if negative then fine. If positive, then test individually. One could test hundreds, indeed thousands, of animals this way, very rapidly.

  50. BillM
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Such national esprit de corp proves that Britain will definitely survive the Virus crisis AND prosper very well outside EU jurisdiction.

  51. Ed M
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    This website is an excellent resource regarding coronavirus and how to deal with it – both articles and comments. Thank you.

  52. Dunc.
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Our country cant consume if it doesnt produce, what, as an MP ,are you doing to end this lockdown/economic suicide madness?
    Surely you have a basic understanding of economics?

  53. steve
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Very pertinent article Mr Redwood, which shares my sentiment.

    However, you say :

    “He Donald Trump] thinks they [China] cheat on technology, currency level, state aids and other matters.”

    Mr trump is not wrong, they do cheat and on a gargantuan scale.

    “The UK is discovering that it cannot rely on China and Germany for some imports at a time of virus crisis. ”

    We should not rely on China for anything, and quite frankly I’d be disgusted if when this is over our country would be doing any trade with China at all.

    As for Germany, I’d like to know how come they were so well stocked with testing kits and PPE.

    “…..make sure our fishing and farming system encourages a higher proportion of home grown and home caught produce.”

    Fully agree, although I’d go further and say we need national self reliance effort to eliminate dependence on other countries altogether. Now we’re not in the EU we don’t need to take their orders, meaning we can kick them out of our maritime resources for starters.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      My thoughts and comments exactly.

    • APL
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      steve: “Fully agree, although I’d go further and say we need national self reliance effort to eliminate dependence on other countries altogether. ”

      Agree too.

      Full square front and centre, is a National Energy program. Which if we’ve used all the North Sea Oil will have to be Nuclear.

      In the ’50s the government had its own Nuclear program, why should we not do the same again now. Instead of HS2 we need a program of Power generation….. Urgently.

  54. Horatio
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    As a risk officer for a large manufacturer we face 4 big problems. Global supply is not one of them
    1 strict govt guidance on self isolation and pathetic lack of testing meaning large number of people at home and not gainfully working. This affects production

    2 strict govt guidance and lack of testing meaning large numbers of workers in our customers distribution centres at home and not working when they could be. Thus reduced goods to consumer and a build up of supplies in limited storage

    3 we are FMCG with limited storage. Point 2 means that we have to reduce requests from suppliers hitting their bottom line or dump product as we are locked into contracts. If you impact your supply chain by being too tight they wont/cant support you when you need to ramp up
    4 some reduced consumption due to lockdown. A result of govt decision not to clarify deaths *with or *from Covid and pathetic lack of testing, leading to crap data and ineffectual cover-your-arse decision making from Public bodies who dont have the leadership to manage a huge organisation outside of buisiness as usual (peacetime)

  55. Somewhere
    Posted April 4, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Has Government decided what it will do if we get another Virus just after this one followed closely by another one? Are we going to stay off work for two years?
    A precedent has been set, A rod for the backs of all governments.
    As Trump has said many times. We must get back to work as soon as possible.
    I did not stand behind him and tell him to say it. I do not have a valid passport and Trump lives in America and I live in the UK, just to make things crystal clear. Believe me!

    • APL
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      somewhere: “Has Government decided what it will do if we get another Virus just after this one”

      We will get a resurgence in COVID-19. The lock down isn’t supposed to eradicate the condition, it’s to slow it’s spread through the population so as that organisation we support with our taxes the wonderful NHS ( sotto voce ‘Liverpool pathway, Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, Alder Hey organs scandal, Chester NHS nurse arrested on suspicion of eight deaths and fifteen other incidents, etc, etc. ) doesn’t get overloaded.

      When the lockdown is lifted, the virus will return.

  56. It's in the language
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking…The NHS says we should do social distance of a minimum of 2 metres.
    The US Health care system says 6 feet
    Is there ideological thinking in the NHS?
    Where does the NHS get its models and curves? From objective scientific minds?

    2 metres =6.56168 feet

  57. Conflict in Health
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    It is being said on social media that Dr Birx who advises Trump and appears with him on stage is also a member of the board of Bill Gates Foundation and that’s where all her models and curves are coming from like a flood.

    Bill Gates, is also on twitter enthusiastically saying everyone in the world should be vaccinated before they go back to work. He’s into vaccinations generally. He is not Doctor.

    Dr Birx does mention she liaises with the UK government on the Virus. I detect what I may call slight and weekly variable differences in approach however or emphasis between the two and within the two..again weekly an even within the same day.
    Our government does not convince me nor one or two others that it knows its earhole from its elbow unless the two change places daily and weekly.
    Not taking a healthy sunshine walk with ones family is a really new thing in the UK
    3000 went for a sunbathe in a Park of Lambeth Council I understand. The Council says it is therefore closing it tomorrow because the people who pay their wages and for the Park are irresponsible. No they are not. They are British and it is our Park.
    The Councillors should all be jailed immediately who authorised its closure and kept there awaiting social reports before their trial.And punished with utmost severity. We should not wish this sort of mass harassment and defrauding Council Tax payers and income tax payers in our land.

    • APL
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Conflict in Health: “The Councillors should all be jailed immediately who authorised its closure and kept there awaiting social reports before their trial.”

      That would be something.

      About time these supposed ‘public servants’ were held responsible.

      Conflict in Health: “Bill Gates, is also on twitter enthusiastically saying everyone in the world should be vaccinated before they go back to work. ”

      That is interesting.

  58. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    In support of your argument, we need to examine the role of the City of London, which in the naughties made good profits selling off our industries. I’m not sure that that was in our country’s interest. Certainly our balance of payments was dire long before the Coronavirus crisis, partly because the European Commission rigged the single Market in favour of German technology (e.g. catalytic converters vs the lean burn engine). Brexit should go some way to forcing us to correct this. Investing in our export industries and in import substitution (NOT in Heathrow and HS2) will be necessary.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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