Buying from home

Recent experiences with delayed and cancelled deliveries of medical equipment and clothing from abroad should lead us to ask whether we should source more of these important items from home.

Procurement and state aid rules has required us to source many things through open tender globally or within the Customs Union of the EU. Today there are many UK companies that could make medical machines, offer clothing and  produce drugs and vaccines. Some can do so already, some would need to invest in  capacity and would want reasonable assurances of sustained contracts.

The challenges posed by the virus are leading many countries, governments and companies to reconsider their arrangements. There was always an override to procure the most sensitive and potent parts of defence equipment nationally,  with further limitations on buying from outside friendly states and the NATO alliance for things we do not make for ourselves. It looks as if these arrangements can be widened to cover more goods.

Recent experiences will re open the case for Chinese involvement in our digital systems and networks. Delays with PPE will lead to a wish to have more capacity here in  the UK that can be scaled up in times of emergency.

I have always argued that our defence policy requires us to own the relevant technologies and to have plans to produce  much more of our requirement at home against the day we have no wish to see were  we to get into a larger war where enemies tried to throttle supplies from overseas.

It would also be a good part of strategic and emergency planning to make sure we have the capacity at home to handle medical emergencies, which must include the supply system to provide the drugs, medical supplies and equipment needed for any given pandemic or other  disaster.

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  1. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    If this present situation, doesn’t tell us that we should produce more things here in the UK, nothing will.

    We are way too reliant on imported goods. After this is over, we must take a hard look , and change our ways.

    • agricola
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      You are absolutely correct Shirley. There should be a strategic list of goods and services that should ideally be sourced within the UK. This assumes that there are sufficient competitive sources within the UK.

      In a defence marketplace we should confine ourselves to purchase or manufacture under licence from our trusted allies and they from us. The technical expertise within the UK is second to none.

      Desirable though China is from the sheer size of their home market, they do not play to the same rule book as ourselves. Nor can we be clear as to their motives. We are better not being involved with them until they become politically acceptable. India has equal volume potential and thanks to history are closer in law and way of life to ourselves. They play cricket if that is not too facile a judgement.

      As a repetitious afternote I have always advocated that we develop the Commonwealth as a large free trading organisation before we look to China for anything strategically critical.

    • Hope
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      JR, para. 2 is not an apology from your party or govt for its failing to deliver Brexit in a timely way, only recognition what could be happening if the Tory govt kept its word and mandate from the public. Instead we had lies deceit and treachery for three and a half years and more spin crap to remain in the EU from Liddington yesterday- while on his RPI pension funded by the taxpayer!

      PHE has consistently been wrong at every stage of the Chinese virus pandemic relying too much on the corrupt WHO which has also been wrong at every call, yet amazingly the ministers have herd/group thinking to continue to follow PHE and allow PHE to be involved.

      The only reason for house arrest set out by Johnson in his nation address was to prevent NHS being overwhelmed and capacity to cope. The goal posts for this disgraceful China type governance now changed three times and the point of stopping a second wave impossible to achieve. Nightingale hospitals turning away infected people and remain largely empty!

      To deflect blame the govt announces another layer of bureaucracy, a vaccine task force with a PHE lead! And a Czar for PPE. Both of which was the job of PHE and NHS England to achieve in preparing the nation for a pandemic, which was likely as it happened before in recent times with SARS Mirs and Ebola. Resoundingly demonstrating the failing in preparedness and failing of the Health minister to appoint someone to take on these roles.

      The Chinese virus is very transmissible. Hence why borders should have closed and still be closed. We read today PHE refused help from 430 experts to contract trace those with the disease, and still let in a hundred thousand each week that will need to be traced, let alone stop them from spreading the disease. Prof. Van Tams explanation was pathetic at best yesterday as it was against his health colleagues advice on the same propaganda panel. The Chinese virus got here by allowing people in the first place look at the consequences. PHE To say the threat from open borders is minuscule is rediculous. Mirs showed that in South Korea years ago.

      The briefings are becoming a focal point for criticism because the govt us not open, transparent or telling the truth like Saturday when it was claimed PPE from Turkey was arriving when it was only ordered and would only last a day.

      Fixation for not letting any private firm help or be associated with the NHS has been to the detriment in saving lives. Disgraceful.

      Read articles in Con Woman where articles have the finger on the pulse.

    • Original Chris
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      That requires a radical rethink of our policies and a dismissal of the globalisation model so loved by our politicians and mandarins.

      The globalisation model requires open borders, mass movements of people/labour force, centralised decision making by an unaccountable global political elite, destruction of individual nations and national identity. It inevitably has resulted in destruction of manufacturing and other industries with these being relocated in those countries with the cheapest labour. It has also meant that we are almost completely dependent on other countries for many key commodities e.g. pharmaceuticals, and services e.g. energy production in the hands of overseas countries.

      Time we rejected it, now that we have left the EU, and look to President Trump on how to generate a hugely successful economy (prior to the introduction of the corona virus) based on the “economic security is national security model”.

      His success meant that the economy was in a far better position to weather such a storm, and the US economy will take off once it is reopened. The plan to reopen has been put into action, unlike our leaders who do not seem to have a clue what the plan is, with infighting between the “doves” and those who want to get going putting the economy back on its feet, and those wimps who kow tow to what the latest focus group suggests. It is hugely damaging for this country, and, I find the attempts by our current politicans to lead our country, quite frankly, contemptible.

      The result a country with little or no economic nor national security.

    • John Hatfield
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Which will be easier when we are finally free from the EU shackles.

    Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Huawei and Boris Johnson. Commercial considerations victorious. Name those who benefit from this relationship between the much abused British taxpayer and a client company of the Chinese Communist Party

    If Johnson doesn’t back down on this then bring down his government and then maybe Priti Patel can be installed to take the Tory party back from the chancers to then confront the poison of the left and progressive activists in our country who are wreaking havoc and holding government departments to ransom

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I am still waiting for Patel to prevail over the cross-Channel dinghyists. Until she does, she won’t be getting any support from me for a promotion.

    • Hope
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Con Woman has another good article about it today.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Sadly day by day I fail to see Boris’ government doing anything laudable, practical and what we waited for, and the majority voted for…..

      Can he and many others survive the shambles? Take a grip Boris or you are doomed.

    • zorro
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Believe me, Priti Patel is not the answer.


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      We need somebody more substantial than Patel. There are a few on the back benches.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 25, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Patel needs to go to Court over the accusations lodged against her and fight it, mount a proper defence and not be allowed to walk away with the rest of us picking up the tab, she needs to make her case and stand up to this and be counted properly. Not like Ed Balls that the public had to dismiss because of his incompetence and our loss of money with Shoesmith and his not following legal procedure expected from the smallest business owner in this Country!

  3. Mark B
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I am aware that current procurement rules state we must put out to tender all government contracts within the EU, but I am not aware that this applies globally. Does our host have anymore information and examples on the latter ? Thanks.

    The idea of forcing governments to subcontract out to other EU countries was to force more interdependence and allow business to relocate from the UK to cheaper parts of the EU. This to maintain UK markets but also increase competitiveness with non-EU countries.

    It is not only the supply of goods and services that need to be considered. Energy security is an absolute must. To that end the government should seek to reduce our energy dependence with other nations. The UK has abundance of good quality coal and shale gas and should seek to exploit it. It should also source its energy from a multiple of suppliers where it has to.

    We should also rely less on cheap imported labour and try to automate as much as possible. The Japanese are leading the way in this field and fewer people means less consumption, waste and vulnerability to supply shortages.

    • Hope
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      I read today Japan has invested about 200 billion to relocate business back from China even though it is its largest trading partner.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Remember Kenneth Clarke explaining that we had to subsidise Spanish fishermen and give them access to our waters ‘so they could compete with us”? This is the result. A disemboweled UK. Just what the Remainers wanted.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Either you have a Single Market or you don’t.

      If you compel, say, councils to tender, then any supplier within that single market is eligible, and it would be absurd if they were not.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        I had to tender (for a household name ) in the European Journal, and nobody in the 27 could meet the conditions….stupid waste of time.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        I think we voted four year sago to leave that market. It’s such a long time ago, but I think I remember doing that>

      • Edward2
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        The other day you were complaining that the UK wasn’t able to produce it’s own PPE.

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        Martin, Why the compulsion? Why not just a free market, where people and councils can buy what they like from whom they like? Oh, I understand – you get your thrills from compelling other people. But your reaction to the vote to Leave sure demonstrates that you don’t like being compelled. Even though that was a democratic majority, and Leave won by the accepted rules.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          It was Thatcher’s bullying, centralising idea, not mine.

          Why shouldn’t councils have been free to do what their local electors wanted?

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

            No, Martin, it wasn’t. Thatcher wanted a free market based on mutual recognition – specifically not</i. the dirigiste, top-down, centralised EU single market. As she said in her memoirs, whilst discussing her Bruges speech: "We must have a European Single Market with the minimum of regulations“.

  4. oldtimer
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Agreed. Defence and security, health and food supplies and the resilience of the financial system are all areas of national interest that deserve emergency/contingency planning. The current experience with the pandemic demonstrates how important that is.

  5. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Might I add the chemicals for water treatment?
    We were told during the Brexit debate that our drinking water supply might be interrupted were we not able to source chemicals from EU suppliers.
    Isn’t it essential that we have domestic manufacturing to ensure our supply? This is every bit a matter of national security.

    • Mark
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      That turned out to be a nonsense Project Fear story. We have manufacturing capacity in the UK, and our imports from the EU were not really significant.

  6. Sea Warrior
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    This crisis has shown us that, when it comes to pandemics, it’s every country for itself. Obviously, we need a stockpile of PPE, PLUS on-shored manufacturing capability, PLUS reserve manufacturing capability, PLUS stockpiles of the raw materials. And much of the PPE should be washable. When MPs have ensured that the government has actioned that, they might wish to look at China’s cornering of the world’s rare earth metals supply. Easing that dependence should be of concern to NATO and the countries of the West.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Indeed and this should have been blindingly obvious to competent pandemic planners (and indeed in a similar way to our defence planners). We have had three months advance notice to prepare for it after all and the experience of China, Italy and the likes. The pandemic plan should have had specifications, tooling etc. and a plan to be able to rapidly make locally what was likely to be needed. PPE, ventilators, drugs, oxygen systems and the rest.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Yep – January was largely wasted.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Yet in those three months you banged on about green crap with no mention of virus contingencies.

      Ah, the benefit of hindsight.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:07 am | Permalink

        Rubbish go back and read what I said. I pointed it out at the time and was critical of the absurd amounts of time and money being wasted on the climate alarmism lunacy.

        It was all easily foreseeable – no hindsight required.

  8. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    5G: Yesterday there was a programme on t.v. about Amazon. In it is was shown that if you have an alexa in the bedroom, then it can record every single word which is spoken. Every word.
    So how can the government possibly support 5G which is linked right in to the Chinese government?

    • agricola
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      I cannot comment on Alexa, but it would not surprise me. I am in the middle of reading George Orwell’s biography so the intrusiveness of nations and global players is in the forefront of my mind.

      Have you noticed how attempts to contact Amazon by email are almost impossible. They prefer a one way conversation from unanswerable web sites all controlled by faceless computer. Their delivery contractors are much the same. I see them as an organisation ripe for competition from a customer oriented operator. Even their Prime delivery service attempts by its very existence to tie customers in. Caveat emptor.

    • John E
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I don’t allow any Alexa or Google Home type devices in the house but the Alexa concerns have nothing to do with 5G that I can see. Don’t they work on your home wi-fi? But to be fair being paranoid about these things has usually turned out to be justified.

      Personally I’m more worried about governments using this crisis to snoop on us all. Witness the French government refusing to use the proposed Apple/Google coronavirus tracking app because it has secure privacy built in and they want an app that allows the state to identify and track people.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Also Mike – Windows 10 – you cannot turn off “updates”. They get put on whether you want them or not. Why would something be “FREE” after costing £??? to develop? On previous versions of windows turning updates off achieved nothing – they were installed by backdoor using other programs. Did Skype continually need all those updates? Also got a pop-up appear on the screen yesterday saying that HP had put a “security update” on my laptop – -didn’t ask – just installed it – THEN told me. Global intrusion and surveillance. Control by electronics. This virus is being used to change everything – and of course, as always, it is being done ” to help and to male things better”. For who?
      All of us being forced into no-cash only card payment – so the govt can track every penny spent by every person.

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        make not male.

      • Al
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 1:53 am | Permalink

        This would be why we’re a Linux house.

        This has caused a few issues with local schools who seem determined that pupils must all have Google or Microsoft accounts, which requires sharing personal details with the company – which is why we don’t have one.

        As for cameras and microphones, deleting the drivers is necessary if you want to block them. I’ve had to do it for laptops used on a few secure sites, because buying a laptop without them is difficult now.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Simple rule – -if its connected to the internet in ANY way – it can be turned on remotely by the firm who made it – and by hackers. Those video doorbells are apparently recorded by the manufacturers – EVERY single thing. Got a camera in your laptop? – it can be turned on remotely WITHOUT the little light showing it is on. From ANYWHERE !!! I have a small sticking plaster stuck over the camera on mine. That doesn’t stop them turning the microphone on though. Your mobile phone – and GPS screen – position is already tracked – get ready for speeding fines from phone masts or even satellites.
      The tech addicted young can’t see what world they are being led into. Absolute hell.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink


    • forthurst
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      5G is a wireless transmission standard requiring purpose built transmitters and receivers; these do require operating software to function however they do not have any need for data storage other than transient data. Amazon on the other hand has server farms all over the world capable of holding massive quantities of data including your bedroom conversations which would be captured via the internet. Do you seriously imagine that the Chinese are going to build the infrastructure necessary to listen and record everybody’s phone conversations like GCHQ and that they would be able to do it without anybody noticing? It is our government which wants to spy on us; the Chinese just want to sell us stuff.

      • John E
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        I’m guessing you haven’t been to China much? They target every laptop used by guests on hotel wi-fi. Standard business protocol is to take out a clean laptop with no data on it and the minimal functions needed to keep in touch, and wipe it clean again on return to home base. They are very interested in industrial espionage.

  9. ColinD.
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    The lesson is that the UK must start to rebuild its manufacturing base. We are far too dependent on Chinese manufacturing. We cannot stand up against the Chinese lest they cut off supplies. We are supporting Chinese jobs when we should be creating British jobs. The West has become almost subservient to the Chinese Government.
    For a start, all strategic imports should also be second sourced but with the long term aim to be ‘Made in Britain’.

    • MPC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      But we can’t properly rebuild our manufacturing base while we have the most expensive electricity and the 2nd most expensive energy costs overall in Europe. Thinking about how we secure a balanced debate about climate change is the 1st priority as that would reveal the sheer irrationality of our current energy policies.

      • rose
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        Tax is also too high too. Then there is regulation. Finally, wages are high here too. There is a reason it all flew abroad.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          Prices for accommodation are too high – it all follows from that.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

            Ridiculous comment Martin
            Accommodation isnt a business cost

  10. Nigl
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Why are you raising this topic now? It is the Secretary of State’s job to ensure that we are prepared with logistics, directories of providers, stocks of essentials etc already in place. The giveaway is in your word planning and it would appear to have been woefully inadequate.

    Are any of us surprised? Of course not.

    We will no doubt have this discussion when this crisis is over and i expect The usual tautological not my fault gymnastics to evade responsibility.

    What I am more interested in is when this ridiculous lock down is going to end. It’s crucifying the economy for questionable benefit. Tell me where the cases have occurred and I will avoid them. Why can I go into a supermarket, but not a garden centre or large DIY store.

    Why can oeople travel on the tube in ‘London in close proximity but someone sitting in a oark or on the beach, cannot. Frankly it’s unthought out rubbish and our so called leaders are looking more like headless chickens.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      If herd immunity doesn’t work then why do test kits look for antibodies ? And why are universities taking a serious look at plasma transfusions from immune people to sick people ?

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        I should rephrase “… why are they developing test kits to look for antibodies ?”

        The question on herd immunity still stands though.

      • beresford
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Plasma transfusions are already taking place in Russia.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Have you ever heard of “experiments”?

    • Bob
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink


      “Why can people travel on the tube in ‘London in close proximity but someone sitting in a park or on the beach, cannot. Frankly it’s unthought out rubbish and our so called leaders are looking more like headless chickens.”

      Sadiq Khan is the London Mayor and after checking with medical experts he said that you can’t catch the virus on the tube. Thank goodness for that!

      • Fred H
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Its everybody walking within 2m of each other wot did it!

      • anon
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        Money talks until it walks to save itself.

        Inward flights?
        London Tube running?
        Mass contacts with overseas hotspots, sports games etc?
        Problem of overpopulation, density and severe overcrowding? Pushes GDP up though.

        So they overcompensate in areas, where the economic business lobby has no interest.

        These planners or key decision makers need skin in the game. They seem to live in a parallel universe to the masses.

        Get all the PHE types, London Mayors, BBC types, Lords MP’s etc to use buses and trains. Maybe then the data etc may be more realistic.

    • beresford
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      They need to find some way of re-opening hairdressers before we all end up looking like hippies. Of course the rich and powerful don’t go short of a haircut. And where is the scientific evidence that pubs are hotbeds of coronavirus? What is important is your social distancing measures, not the commodity you sell.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The FT today suggest that, due to the lag in reporting deaths plus the many deaths outside hospital the true rates of death produced (or perhaps accelerated rather) by Coronavirus is as high at 41,000. With nearly 20,000 in hospitals, 10,000 in care homes and about another 11,000 at home (or elsewhere).

    I estimated slightly less than this from the weekly death figures (but not that much less). It depends a bit on how much the lag is in the recording deaths. Some experts are suggesting deaths rates might be as low as 1/500 (or even lower) of those infected (if so this would suggest that 20+ million have already had it). Roll on the antibody testing to find out the truth.

  12. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Governments are charged with keeping their people safe and secure. It is more than just a Duty, its there only reason to exist.

    That is not only against armed aggression, but it is to ensure the wealth and wellbeing of the nation is maintained. This current situation has shown us that the UK has to be in a position to fend for its self.

    All too often recently the UK has been held hostage to the political games of others. We need to be self-sufficient in every area that we call normal.

  13. BCL
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I am increasingly annoyed and disappointed by the attitude of the press. There is a constant critical slant to everything the government is doing particularly over PPE and testing. I am pleased the Labour party is trying to be helpful in its criticism, for the most part. I think an indefinite period of silence from A Blair would be a considerable improvement. The idea that the Government and its ministers are doing anything less than everything they possibly can to get us through this is preposterous. I’d say that even if Mr Corbyn were in No 10.
    I think the press is digging its own grave over this and it’s not as if we’ve forgotten their behaviour over Brexit.

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    If, during this pandemic, the managers of our procuring civil servants don’t have the wherewithal to override and EU or WTO rules on open sourcing we are truly screwed.

    Better to ask for forgiveness than permission in times of need and we want people at the top to know which rules are important, when.

    If what you write above, Sir John, is true ( I do hope it is not and is a deflection of criticism) and we are not sourcing desperately needed equipment from home because of procurement agreements that our managers won’t break, that says everything about why we can not function as a member of the EU – our civil servants gold plate the rules and allow them to disadvantage us, other countries use them to their advantage. We do not fit in.

  15. Stred
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    There is still no answer from ministers to explain how PPE suppliers sent offers of equipment with details of the approvals and standards, only to be ignored for a week and being asked for details of approvals and standards. Then losing a million pieces of equipment to foreign administration that said ‘yes please send it’.
    A bereaved member of my family had to speak to the Bereavement Service recently after they had spent weeks getting copies of the death certificate from the Bereavement Service only to be refused a form for probate until she provided a certificate that was held by the Bereavement Service. Just at a time when the bereaved are upset, they are confronted with staff who cannot think and upset them more.
    When government departments are staffed by incompetents from top to bottom and the result is total failure, why do politicians cover for them?

    • rose
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      “why do politicians cover for them?”

      Because that is the convention and Opposition and media take full advantage.

  16. Everhopeful
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Not much that can be said really.
    Everyone except govts knew exactly where all the nonsense would lead…and many tried to say so.
    And now look!!!

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Sadly, there are no votes to be had from contingency planning. Starting with the Blair government, politicians seem to care more for shiny, new hospitals than the more mundane measures of NHS performance.

  17. agricola
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Big question is, will the government listen. There are so many UK notables on Chinese and Chinese promotion boards no doubt paid to lobby vigorously that the views of 60 million UK citizens who are not on the gravy train are ignored. The lobbying set up is long overdue drastic surgery. Just one of the abuses that needs changing post Covid 19.

    If you got around to moderating it yesterday, I will omit the need for a professional look at the NHS purchasing regime which has shown itself wanting.

  18. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Global dangers need global preparedness, and everything that this means.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Except it’s more a localised danger than a global one – especially if the regime concerned lies and lies and lies to us about what it has on its hands.

    • NickC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      On the contrary, Martin, global dangers need national preparedness, and everything that this means. Even your favourite authoritarians – the EU empire – failed when it came to the crunch. Accept the reality that nations look to themselves first, hence why France and Germany prevented the export of kit to other EU states. Moreover, if we had locked down our borders, quarantining any returnees, we would not even have this coronavirus here.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        There was nothing stopping the Government from doing what you list in your last sentence.

        It has a majority of eighty.

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          Martin, You may have failed to notice but the government does not always act on my recommendation. And if it had acted to shut the borders, there would have been squeals of outrage and “xenophobia!!”, from the likes of the Grauniad, BBC, and yourself, just as Andy already did from a mere suggestion.

          • rose
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            Also, one and a half million British people needed to come back on commercial airlines. That is a lot of flights.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            No, not under such an emergency as this.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            Martin, It is not difficult to find a ragtag bunch of Remains and far left activists who complained that shutting borders is xenophobia. Andy did on here and you never censured him for it.

      • RichardM
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        NickC No. It was the Health Minister who failed to act.

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          RichardM, Act on what?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      In your nook, One World Government 😂😂

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

        I don’t live in a nook, Lynn.

        No, that is not necessary.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Global danger observed by the inaction of the Chinese, or was it planned that way?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        The fires on the heath at Saddleworth might have been arson, maybe not.

        That wasn’t the main matter occupying the minds of the firefighters, nor should it have been.

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Martin, But quarantining China should have been on the minds of the governments of the world. Only Trump has done some of that. And look at the shrieks from the politically correct about Trump’s flight bans.

  19. George Brooks.
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    This is a true ‘wake-up’ call and it could not have come at a better time. Right at the beginning of the 12 month transition period that frees us from the EU.

    British industry has been under pressure for 40 years from the EU to increasingly rely on other member states to supply products and parts and now their manufacture will come back to the UK fuelled by the desire for self-preservation and not some government directive.

    We have all the skill and innovation needed and it will play a vital roll in repairing the economic damage that Covid-19 is doing to this nation.

    • Andy
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink


      It makes it more likely that manufacturers will move to the single market.

      Why base yourself in a tiny market of 65m when you can have 450m on your doorstep – plus trade deals with dozens more.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        You can always sell to the world.
        Its how it’s been since 1945.

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        It’s the reverse, Andy. Your Single Market has created giant corporates who don’t care about manufacturing in their different national markets – hence a lot of them are based in their home nation, as we’ve seen to our cost. In future, if manufacturers from the EU want a part of our independent UK market they are going to have to manufacture here. Or they won’t get a look in.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      We have been deskilled by design. The first stage was the destruction of the grammar schools and replacement with comps which are only good for preparing those of low ability to take Arts degrees. After a period of of deliberate industrial sabotage for which no one was locked up, we had the Thatcher revolution in which manufacturing capacity was deliberately bankrupted and then replaced with banksterism, leaving in doubt what on Earth people who were honest or people who did not live in commuting range of London were supposed to do for a living. As a consequence a friend of mine who is a highly skilled electronic control engineer has had to spend most of his career outside the UK.

      To get back what has been deliberately destroyed will take many years and require a revolution similar to than in China after Mao. Grammar schools need to return; education budgets need to be refocused on English children who have been deliberately deprecated by the Tories; Arts courses at universities need to scrapped and the studying of STEM subjects prioritised.

      Finally a new class of politician is required who cannot be duped by the global warming hoax or believe that importing millions of unassimilable aliens and wasting the resources of country on them is other than treason or insanity and who further believe that we can only earn our living in the world and become prosperous by creating added value which other nations will wish to acquire.

  20. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    It is not just because the virus things need to change.

    Any Foreign power or corporation in charge of what is now deemed normal infrastructure lays bare the deceit and failure of Government in there basic duties. They are not keeping us safe and secure.

    Look it from the point of those willing to supply the service – would their own governments permit the UK into their own country to do the same. No it just doesn’t happen, not in China, not in the US, not in Germany. As with others they insist that any package requires either shared ownership all that the supply chain is contained within there own borders.

    Our MP’s have taken to using Zoom, all seemingly benign. All hosted on servers in China. Some have argued that debates in Parliament are and should be in the public domain, which seems rational. But like most software of this type, you need to download it on a local device for it to run. It is supplied and run for free. Free in the respect that the software interrogates your device for information about you and your contacts. This data is collected and collated (In Zoom’s case a foreign power) sold on and used for profit. Strategically that is dangerous no matter how many safeguards you believe are in place.

    Everyone’s friend Facebook at face value seems innocent. Every time a user logs into Facebook the T&C’s permit their associates to interrogate your devices. This mean as a rule around 30 other organizations are collecting and collating data from you. Do you know who they are, do they tell you exactly why the need to know your personal life and that of your contacts – of course not.

    The FB data as with the Zoom data is removed from the UK and the UK has no control or idea what it is being used for. Your government keeping you safe and secure!

    Reply There is no problem for use to appear in Parliament as that is a public forum!

  21. Colin Iles
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Sir John, though you have not mentioned it specifically I’m would assume that you include energy self-sufficiency as another critical target.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Yeah we sit on an island made of coal, surrounded by a sea of oil …and yet we import energy?

  22. RichardM
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Studies in 2016 indicated we were ill-prepared for a pandemic, and the government ignored the advice.

    OT. more Trump drivel, repeated on here by followers exposed as nonsense :
    More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

    • NickC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      RichardM, It was the NHS that ignored the results of their own 2016 pandemic test. The government does not run the NHS – that’s what NHS management is paid for.

      • RichardM
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        NickC No. It was the Health Minister who failed to act.

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          RichardM, No, it was the NHS management who failed to act. They were too busy telling us not to drink, and to eat five-a-day. The government does not manage the NHS day by day, or even month by month.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Except when it’s a Labour government, eh, Nick?

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          Martin, Any government is culpable when it fails to act where it has direct management responsibility. The government does not manage the NHS, that is done by NHS management. Otherwise we could save money by dispensing with NHS management. Is that what you want?

      • Mark B
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:57 am | Permalink

        But government is the employer and the provider of funds. If government stated that ‘x’ had to be done, and it wasn’t, then what has government been doing these last 3-4 years ? If government said nothing, then it is governments fault. End of !

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Mark B, So what is NHS management for?

          If ministers are actually running the various departments of the NHS (they’re not, in fact), there would be no need for the top tiers of NHS management. Buyers for example would report directly to Jeremy Hunt. But you know that’s absurd.

          I see the NHS as akin to a large corporate, where the directors have legal duties and public accountability. So, where is the NHS procurement director – hiding in a broom cupboard so that Hunt takes the rap?

    • Oldsalt
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I read somewhere a 3 drug treatment of Hydroxychloroquine with Azithromycin and Zinc was proving a 99.8% success or was it fake news.

  23. Martin Bowden
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Also important is the security and reliability of our electricity. We should be less reliant on imported gas/wood pellets and interconnects from the EU.
    Why can’t we build our own nuclear power plants rather than rely on France and China?

    • Peter Wood
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Energy, food and defence; these are the three critical national resources. The UK can have all three, it is up to our government to decide we should. Sadly, we do not have such a government. Perhaps, on finally taking back control from the mess across the Channel, we will have the confidence and judgement to do these things for ourselves.


    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Power plants? Wonder how much electricity has been made by these wonderful windmills recently. Can’t hear any trumpeting about it. Even with overall electricity demand down due to the country shutdown. With less demand their %age input of the total needed should be should be higher.

      • anon
        Posted April 26, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Websearch lcoe lazards 2020. Some facts on the economics.
        Renewables are pushing past the tipping point. Even existing plant are finding it difficult to compete.

        Its local power, its secure, its hitech, its marine, its high paying good jobs and it provides work directly for the UK workforce. Its comparatively cheap and getting cheaper.
        It requires no export of currency for the fuel etc.

        We just need to exit the EU and make it happen.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      The price the French Government owned EDF demanded to build nuclear power stations here, apart from a fixed price that will cost Brish energy users dear, was the sale of British energy to them, The French bought this using loans from British Government owned banks, which was put down as loan to British business, to fulfil their bailout obligation.

      There are times when you think the British establishment have no regard for our country, they have no qualms about flogging off one industry after another, even in this Virus outbreak they ship in a workforce while restricting our movements, and look to buy PPE from abroad while British manufacturers saying ‘we can do it’ are seen as a nuisance. You can feel pretty confident that after this is all over nothing will change, they won’t try to repatriate production here, their god globalism is too important to them.

  24. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Thank goodness this wasn’t airborne ebola and gives us fair warning.

    My guess is we’ll be so broke we’ll only be able to afford Chinese supplies.

    Outsourcing was a huge mistake and we told you so over many years.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      No you didn’t.

      You – the Right – said that in-house was “communism”.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        I’m afraid that we subsidised outsourcing with welfare to make it politically acceptable – which became quite addictive and then necessitated the importation of more motivated people to do the work left behind.

        Now what shall we call that ?

        Blairism ?

        A centralised financial sector and nation of people doing each other’s washing… the naked bathers, in other words.

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Martin, You have misunderstood. “Outsourcing” so much of our manufacturing to other nations is a mistake, and I and many on the right have said so for years. Outsourcing some parts of the NHS to British businesses is an attempt to tackle the glaring inefficiencies inherent in the 1950s style socialist behemoth that is the NHS.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          No, won’t wash.

          The more fragmentation and casualisation the better, and by any means is what the Right pushed.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

            Martin, We are no longer willing to accept the indifferent service provided by 1950s top-down, socialist style NHS managers who hide in a broom cupboard at the first whiff of trouble. Monopoly state behemoths like the NHS have had their day, and this coronavirus has proved it. There is no reason that a hospital in Luton should have the same management as a hospital in Carlisle.

      • David Price
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  25. Richard1
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    What has been eye-opening is the uselessness of many of our large centralised quangos. We have seen PHE turning its nose up at private sector involvement in producing tests, refusing to send out samples needed to do that, the absurdity of even large established firms willing and able to produce PPE being unable even to speak to anyone in the NHS, the recruitment of 750,000 volunteers who then aren’t contacted whilst in the meantime many people on the 1.5m vulnerable list can’t get online deliveries. Examples are legion of our bloated and incompetent public sector management. No doubt individuals are well-intentioned and doing their best, but the conclusion must be that statist centralism where any problem is blamed on the Secretary of State or even the PM, is a recipe for dreadful performance and waste.

    • miami.mode
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Absolutely correct R1. These people are happy to take their bloated salaries and continually pontificate, but now that it has got serious they are found sadly and desperately wanting. and plainly few of them are up to the job.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Yes, Richard, it does seem like that it is rather up to these large quangos to start to defend themselves from relentless media attacks or the public reaction to their supposed totally failure will leave them vulnerable to be replaced.

      I read not all PPE ordering is centralised, some regions have control of their purchasing themselves such as Manchester and the surrounding Trusts. I just don’t understand why Hancock is just taking all this rubbish he needs to rebutt more and be more strong in his presentations, perhaps some media training quickly.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      The state sector has to keep a distance from private enterprise to avoid being show in their true colours. It’s worked for decades – then this damn virus went and blew the gaff.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:02 am | Permalink

        BINGO !!!!


    • Richard1
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Good to see the senior civil servant at the FCO sir Simon McDonald apologising for stating falsely on a previous occasion that the govt took a political decision not to participate in an EU ventilator procurement scheme. It did not. There was a ‘communication error’ – ie some Civil servant either didn’t see or didn’t pass on relevant emails.

      No apology from the BBC yet for running as it’s top story last Friday a claim that the ‘boss’ of an NHS trust was so desperate for PPE he had rung the BBC to get the number for Burberry. The whole thing was absurd and made up – of course anyone who wants the number for Burberry can google it. The (unnamed) source wasn’t an NHS boss at all. Politicised fake news. The govt should make a formal complaint to Ofcom.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      Yes, but who creates these behemoths ? And who appoints the people to run them ?

  26. Margaret Howard
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink


    “we have no wish to see were we to get into a larger war…”

    To avoid a larger war, a good start would be for us to stop meddling in other countries’ affairs and stop aligning our foreign policy to that of the United States.

    We should remind ourselves what Albert Einstein said about global conflicts in our nuclear age:

    “Unless the free people of the earth unite to avert World War III, it is probable that World War IV will be fought with bows and arrows.”

    • NickC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Margaret H, I never knew you were a Trump supporter! He is trying to disentangle the USA from being the world’s policeman. But one of the side effects is that Russia and China are moving in to replace the USA over much of the globe. Is that really what you want?

      • rose
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Russia and China moved under Obama. Eight years of letting them do what they liked.

    • Edward2
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Were you against the actions by the UK and its allies in Bosnia and in Kuwait?
      Your policy of non intervention would allow any evil agressive nations to freely go out and invade their neighbours.

      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      I love the foreign policy of the United States from their United States perspective.It is the best.

      We British live in the world as it is or we not live.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      It’s bows and arrows now – have you seen the streets of France Margaret? The fighter planes are useless when the battle is on every street in the country.

      • Margaret Howard
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink


        I googled ‘street battles in France today’ and the only things that came up were a few hooligans setting cars alight in the usual Paris suburbs.

        Can you enlighten us?

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          So “move along please, nothing to see here”??

  27. Sharon Jagger
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Listening on LBC this morning, the Care Secretary (didn’t catch her name) was being questioned by nick Ferrari. Her underlying message for why a lot of offers of equipment had been refused (or ignored) was because large volumes were required. To me that is narrow minded, because a smaller supplier could have been supplying either one or two hospitals or a number of care homes locally- times that up to a larger number of small suppliers and part of the problem is resolved. The search for a large supplier could still continue.

    It struck me that in waiting for a large supplier … no-one was getting anything!

    I suppose that is the nature of bureaucracy- “no can do, sorry!”

    • BJC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Sharon Jagger: Seriously? I missed that little gem and am, quite frankly, stunned! All this tells me is that our bureaucrats are still brainwashed by the EU doctrine that “bigger is better”. Those annointed with power in the corridors of Westminster need to understand that, as an island, it’s fundamental to our survival and security that we diversify to keep our country going under all circumstances. Having read your comments, I have no doubt kind host will be seeking an explanation!

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      All they had to do Sharon was connect up some of the Care Homes (the smaller ones struggling) with the smaller providers, just give them their phone numbers but shouldn’t the National Care Association be asked why they didn’t co-ordinate this for their members. How much does this Association get from the Care Homes and from Charity and the government to run?

      • Stred
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:47 am | Permalink

        The NHS told the care homes that it would be making ppe available and then, of course, failed. The care homes and hospitals were able to obtain Ppe from the local suppliers if they were contacted by the rebuffed supplier. It would have saved lives if the NHS had management that admitted to being useless and told the care homes that they were on their own. The young minister, the new MP for Faversham, seemed to be acting as an inexperienced presenter for the failed bureaucrats. Why has the Conservative Party chosen all these young MPs for presentation over ability?

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Stred, how do you know what the NHS told care homes? Was it ‘NHS Providers’ who told Care Homes, how did they tell them?

          I had to source my own PPE it is actually more difficult to get smaller quantities than it was to find large quantities.

          I too have wondered about the calibre of young MPs being put up for a grilling by the likes of Piers Morgan on a rampage, Boris picked an inexperienced team, each one of them should have been matched with older and wiser MPs who have been through this treadmill many times before for on-line coaching in preparation for what they faced. They all have to start somewhere and no-one expected this pandemic to close down the World.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:06 am | Permalink


      They need, and like, big suppliers because their sales rep’s have bigger expense accounts. It happens in the private sector as well.

  28. Annette Bates
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    There appear to have been many willing private sector companies offering help & equipment to RNHS. Then they hit the inflexible wall of bureaucracy, where the majority of employees of RNHS are comfy & reside supreme where box-ticking is seemingly more important than the purpose of the organisation. Potential emergency suppliers have been ignored as their names are ‘not on the list’ of ‘approved’ suppliers, regardless of product quality or fitness for purpose raising another barrier to entry for new companies. For many companies, this was also a way of keeping their company going & employees employed. It seems that adding flexibility of procurement is yet another item not in their ‘disaster’ planning, & we have to note that there are replicated well paid ‘management’ hierarchies in the regions. Perhaps there should be some ‘unexplained wealth’ investigations in some areas.
    We also see in farming, where tens of thousands have applied to pick fruit, that only a couple of hundred were successful. The preference being to import unscreened foreign workers whilst the indigenous remain under house arrest. Why should that be? Is it due to a single ‘approved’/preferred supplier of labour? Are our farmers being threatened & subject to a protection racket, as happens in E. Europe?
    Whilst checks & controls on suppliers is a good thing, it can lead to inflexibility and also the tail wagging the dog, where quality becomes a poor second. This is particularly true where the supplier is for labour, as I’ve witnessed.

  29. Freeborn John
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Why does the government seem unwilling to say it did not join the EU procurement scheme for political reasons? We have had years of the EU saying it will pursue its narrow interests over U.K. interests. Who when needing a ventilator for themselves or a loved one would want a Brussels official making the choice between scarce equipment being sent to Britain or to an EU member state? It is time for the U.K. government to stand up to the naive Remainers.

    • NickC
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Freeborn John, Just so. The last thing we need is a top down bureaucracy making decisions for us. We need to use local suppliers supplying locally.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        What “local suppliers”?

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          The ones we used to have before the EU came along, Martin. And the ones we should encourage once we leave on 31 Dec 2020.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            Germany is in the European Union, like many other countries.

            They have local suppliers, so it would appear to be something other than membership which is the problem, wouldn’t it?

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Yes, one of the other problems is Germany benefits from mercantilism.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      The first choice a Brussels official would make would be to ensure that they have the most expensive one for themselves.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Under what law would they be able to do that?

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          The EU law of corruption, Martin.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            Evidence, please.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Juncker’s wine cellar? MEPs’ signing in payment? Airports in the middle of nowhere? All the missing money? Self auditing? Von der Leyen muscled in by Germany? Big corporates lobbying for laws in Brussels? “The extent of corruption in Europe is “breathtaking” and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually, the European Commission says” – BBC 2014.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I agree John, Germany came out of the block early to say they weren’t going to export essential equipment they had and came under a lot of political backlash for this, the French held up our initial delivery of masks we’d ordered, the media forget their own reports on this now. Why didn’t Germany share their testing kits and capabilities out even with closer struggling nations like Italy? I don’t understand why the Government don’t just say, we had supplies orders globally, we were waiting for deliveries from EU nations that we’d already ordered that were being held up by member states, we had our own pandemic stocks that just didn’t get reacted on quickly enough!

      • Margaret Howard
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink


        ” Why didn’t Germany share their testing kits and capabilities out even with closer struggling nations like Italy?”

        The German taxpayer has spent 20m euros so far on treating foreign nationals. Apart from sending medical equipment to many other members.

        How much have we spent and done?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          The UK like every EU nation spends a lot of money treating foreign nationals.
          And we have sent PPE to other nations.

        • NickC
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

          Margaret H, The German government stopped German firms exporting medical kit to Italy. Wake up, please.

        • a-tracy
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          “The German taxpayer has spent 20m euros so far on treating foreign nationals. Apart from sending medical equipment to many other members.”

          Where did you get this information from?
          They only started sending medical equipment way after the other members peak and only after they contained their own outbreak with 100,000 tests per day.

          It is very hard to hear any good news about the UK from the BBC or anywhere else at the moment, I heard we sent PPE early and quickly to China when they had their early outbreak that was to be admired wasn’t it and we got more than our original help back when the virus started to take off here.

          Personally I think the EU and Italy and Austria in particular have a lot to answer to the UK public who took half term holidays there without informing Brits of the outbreak in Lombardy, we started to hear about outbreaks in Spain after our holiday makers landed late February. Most of these returners were the early tested and identified puplic that acted as they were called at the time as ‘super spreaders’, two doctors in Edinburgh returned from ski trips and then the news was hushed and we just allowed cruise ship after cruise ship, airplane after airplane to get on public transport near all the major airports and leave infection trails behind them.

    • Margaret Howard
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Freeborn John

      “Stand up to the naive Remainers?”

      But you leavers won and we have left the EU. Nothing is stopping us from procuring from anywhere in the world although the farcical Turkey episode may be a bad omen of things to come when dealing with countries outside EU quality controls in place.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Margaret, what did you think in early March when Germany, France, Czech etc. Stopped all exports of medical equipment within Europe? That wasn’t very European was it? Don’t you even wonder why Germany didn’t offer early to do tests for say Italy when they had so much capacity and knew Italy was struggling.

        • Margaret Howard
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink


          Really? Stopped all medical equipment in early March?

          14 March

          “Germany is expected to send one million face masks to Italy as it continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica”

          As I asked above, how much are we doing?

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Margaret H, “expected to” is not evidence of it happening, nor is it evidence of when.

          • a-tracy
            Posted April 24, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            Reuters 4 Mar 2020 – BERLIN, March 4 (Reuters) – Germany has banned the export of medical protection gear to avoid supply shortages of masks, gloves and suits

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Margaret H, The UK is still subject to the EU’s CCP. Do keep up!

      • dixie
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        We have not left yet.

  30. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I can’t help but think it needs asking again what happened in response to the Cygnus exercise in October 2016?

    Part of a response to this should have been for the NHS to drill down its supply routes for important kit. Part of the “what if” must have been – What if our overseas supply chains let us down? It just MUST have been, and the logical answer to that is to stitch together a knowledge of domestic capacity, potential capacity and how long it would take to come on stream for essential items in such a pandemic.

    One would hope there have also been exercises done for terrorist, military or natural disasters but perhaps not.

    In any event, given that the Cygnus exercise was done, and the government is apparently operating under a transparent operating mode, let’s know what was decided with our money please. There is no national security risk in spilling the beans.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Did May’s administration defer any decisions on Cygnus to “greater” EU authority just 4 months after our vote to Leave? We deserve to know.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

        Sitting there doing nothing was all she was good at. That way nothing bad ever happened and, when something did, as a result of inaction, she was long gone.

  31. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    JR we should remember 1982 Falklands war when we really had to dig in hard to get our own supplies and get backing from America for certain supplies/services, and we pushed hard for the French not to simply Argentina.

    Seems we never learn from past lessons. and since then our Navy has been decimated.

    Once again its down to price for everything, and knowing the value of little.

    Will be the same eventually with food production given the huge increase in our population, and the shrinkage of productive farmland.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Simply – Supply Argentina

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      That’s the Anglo Saxon economic model which you describe.

      • Edward2
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        So you would be happy to pay double for goods you buy in the UK instead of choosing to buy from abroad where your custom might improve the life of poor people.

        • sok
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

          Charity starts at home)

          • Edward2
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            I agree sok
            But I was exposing the contradictions of Martin who one minute likes globalisation then he likes the insular EU then he wants whatever products he mentions to be available from UK manufacturing companies.
            Is it free trade or is it a protectionist economy he wants when he mentions the “Anglo Saxon economic model”?

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Martin, By “the Anglo Saxon economic model” do you mean a free market rather than a planned economy? Your sneer ceases to have any traction when you have to acknowledge the alternative.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

          No, I mean that based on the Chicago School’s 1970s approach.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Martin, So you should have said what you meant: the “Chicago School’s 1970s approach”, rather than “the Anglo Saxon economic model”.

  32. ukretired123
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Whilst you Sir John have faith in Britain and British resources you have had an uphill battle to convince your fellow MPs on its merits as if they are more swayed by their lobby friends and the mirage of “What could possibly go wrong?” ?

    As the saying goes unless you respect and understand History you will be forced to relive it – which is Deja Vu! Unfortunately somethings come hack into fashion both good and bad.

    Whilst every Western Govt has been caught out and the “Righteous Brigade” are into frothing overdrive they attack the victim as easy low hanging “fruit” whereas the source is let off the hook.

  33. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    It seems that there is a distinct possibility that biological warfare is going to play an important part in any future war. It will not have escaped Chinese attention that their plague virus has managed to “take out” (to quote the military jargon) an entire US carrier task group in the Pacific – a bloodless victory. The French nuclear carrier has also been disabled by the virus while patrolling in the Mediterranean.

    Yesterday it was reported that the american B52 nuclear bombers have been withdrawn from Guam, now suffering a major outbreak of the virus.

    Thanks to the malign 2010 SDSR our military are no longer capable of defending us against a major world-class opponent, many of our armoured regiments were disbanded and the number of our excellent Challenger II tanks reduced from 550-odd to 275.

    Of greater concern to many involved with the military is the current situation with the nuclear deterent – two of the Vanguard boats have been under repair for months, leaving only two to maintain our continuous-at-sea deterrent. While most military maritime operations rely on the rotation of three surface ships, the continuous-at-sea deterrent is based on four submarines to ensure its resilience. So what happens if the boat at sea suffers an outbreak?

    After decades of cuts to our armed forces, we no longer have the capability to build and repair submarines simultaneously; the long delay in getting the boats under repair back in service is now causing delays to the Dreadnought replacement program.

    Major wars have a habit of suddenly exploding (no pun intended) out of the blue. One wonders how much ammunition/munitions/fighter aircraft the MoD has immediately available should we need it – the current situation as the whole world tries to source PPE shows what may happen should we need to quickly source military materiel from the global supply network.

    • Stred
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      It would be interesting to know when the French submarine was last in port. The virus must have been around for longer than we thought. Same with the US navy, unless sailors are flown out.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink

      In the first Gulf War the UK was reliant on Belgium for some of its light ammunition. They refused to sell us any and we had to get them from elsewhere. So the signs have been around for decades.

    • sok
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      You do not know what the capability of the US armed forces is and neither do I. Like all the data in this ongoing fiasco, its unknown. Kind regards,P. )

  34. L Jones
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    It surely bears repeating:
    ”What would have been the fate of Britain in 1940 if production of the Hurricane and the Spitfire had been dependent upon the output of factories in France?” (E Powell)

  35. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Think you will find trading standards already know about poor quality, and fake labelled goods from abroad, they have been dealing with the problem for years.

  36. a-tracy
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I believe we need a reboot on the purchasing of critical PPE items to protect us in case of a national emergency. We saw early on Countries with bigger manufacturing and pharmaceutical lab testing centres holding back exports, this latest debacle on PPE from Turkey is disgusting (there must be repercussions for Turkey on future purchasing from that Country over this telling us they had it to sell to us then holding back on the delivery making a political punchbag out of our Health Department).

    If we use UK suppliers to produce the most critical protective items e.g. Full body covering washable, fluid repellent gowns and we constantly keep a two to five-year stock for normal use and replacement cycle and can step up by making and producing the textiles ourselves we would be more self-reliant in a pandemic or biological weapon attack. Perhaps better use of these garments in ITU and reintroducing doctors coverings instead of normal day wear could start to arrest some of the MRSA and other infection spread in our hospitals moving forward.

  37. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Now to the future, and I hesitate to say this, but Blair has the plan which the government doesn’t seem to have. Be ready for Starmer to push this approach – it seems like a reasonable plan so long as genuine free thinkers are chosen, and not the usual suspects:

    Get senior figures (not the couple of juniors in Health and Care presently) to head up task forces in 10 key areas.

    Be fully transparent. This is a national emergency, not a national security emergency.

    • Martyn G
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      You are so right. I watched the man (TB) I have very much disliked for years on end on ITV GMB programme today. I have to say that I was impressed by the way that he presented his case whilst carefully avoiding taking political advantage of the situation by not disparaging the government or, indeed, any individual. It is, I think, the first time that I have ever found myself largely in agreement with him!

  38. Ed M
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The problem with our economy is that it is too focused on finance (important as this is) and the global economy (important as this is).

    In the old days, people set up their own businesses and made things, not just to make money but because they enjoyed making things and making things in Britain. So sense of work satisfaction based on work ethic and patriotism – not just money (important as that is and important as finance and globalisation is).

    We’ve lost this balance. We need to get back to making more British things – high tech / digital British things that involve lots of high skills and high value exports to the rest of the world. This would also greatly push up productivity.

    Work Ethic and Patriotism are ultimately traditional Christian virtues, and this is one of the prices we’re paying for a diminishment of traditional Christianity in this country (along with the demise of the Family, High End Culture that gave the world Mozart and Shakespeare and Leonardo and architecture like that of Sir Christopher Wren etc, as well).

    We need more Conservatives in traditional Christianity (Church of England / other forms of Protestantism and Catholicism) pushing for these things – but I wonder even in The Church of England and The Catholic Church today how much people are focused on things like work ethic / the economy / patriotism / serious art and architecture and so on – sadly, liberal / socialist values have even taken a grip, to a degree, of our religious institutions.

    These traditional values are the gel that binds everything together – that makes a country function properly and in a positive and cheerful way – at its best. Without it, you’re at the mercy of the forces of nature, each man for himself. That is the only way to square the circle.

    • Ed M
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      And happy to stand corrected!

      (Although I think Patriotism is a beautiful thing but very fragile – it can easily be turned into ugly nationalism or else people turning away from any love of their country in any shape or form – and so worth fighting for! That is essentially what I am trying to do here).

    • Ed M
      Posted April 24, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Apologies, sir, for being over-religious here. This isn’t my website and I should be sticking to politics / economics / national affairs. (And also apologies for mouthing off about President Trump – this isn’t the place for that).
      Thank you for allowing me to comment in general.
      I have been getting a lot of great information / thoughts about the coronavirus and other things from this site – from your articles and people in comments.

  39. a-tracy
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    If the Guardian has sourced thousands of UK supplies of PPE in short order why didn’t the British Care homes buy them from the local suppliers with stock, they are independent companies, not NHS? The NHS probably had large orders expected in at any time from their regular global supply companies, we were told hospitals were going through these products at much higher quantities than ever before, I personally think that we could have moved ppe from lower used hospitals to large intake hospitals faster and more efficiently.
    The political nurse that got retweeted repeatedly had been donating her stock of ppe to other organisations then moaning she was worried she didn’t have enough.

    The Manchester area is an independent purchasing consortium, why didn’t they buy from local stock is it because this is an overblown problem mainly in London or have North West hospitals been those with missing PPE? I’d been offered ppe by e-mail in much too big a quantity for our business in local stock so these consortium groups must have had their own e-mails – the media can’t just hold policians responsible for this and its time the blame game they’re playing was shared out properly.

  40. glen cullen
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe that past procurement and management of resources policies was determined by home vis global rather more it was about out-sourcing, sub-contracting, distance government, smaller government….which all resulted in a not-my-responsibility government

    Can’t believe our govt is buying nurses uniforms from Burma….and army uniforms from China

    Lets just buy the cheapest….how’s that policy working now

  41. John E
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I fully agree. We have to be ready for the next pandemic. There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.
    Government can help by placing forward commitments to buy from UK suppliers. Then the suppliers will be able to get funding for the necessary expansion of factory capacity.

  42. IanT
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    It has always been pretty obvious that there was a clear case for self-sufficiency in term of key strategic manufacturing and supplies. But this is something that governments of all shades have managed to ignore for at least the past thirty years.

    Why the reluctance for instance to ban Huawei from involvement in 5G – possibly because BT (a privately owned company) has already invested in their technology and is resistant to throwing all that kit away and starting over. If government had been more concerned about longer term security it could have been guiding national policy these things much earlier. But I’m sure thee were some very good lobbyists arguing it wasn’t a problem..

    You don’t have to look far to see similar occurrences – ARM, Cobham and now Imagination come immediately to mind but this has been going on for a long time. Assurances were given and then quickly broken.

    The one thing good about CV is that it might finally start both our population and our leaders to start thinking a bit longer term about what our key needs are when (for whatever reason) we might need to be able to take care of ourselves without the help of others.

  43. Where ARE you
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    sorry 24 not 14 April

  44. Everhopeful
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Apparently the UK is the worst placed advanced economy to weather the COVID19 storm. In our relentless pursuit of the cheapest possible consumer products we have offshored vast swathes of our productive capacity.
    We retain “just in time” manufacturing and personal finances are also “just in time“. Through debt, people have been encouraged to live a hand to mouth existence. Lowest personal saving rates virtually anywhere in the world.
    Meanwhile 4 million people have been thrown out of work in Bangladesh (85% of their exports are textile products) because various chains here are no longer buying anything.
    In a crisis nation states retrench and globalisation goes out of the window!!

    • And counting
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      4 million? Oh. Their families too, what!

  45. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Yes. Time to appreciate that the world does not owe us anything, we hold land by force of arms. Useless of course if you let invaders in individually and are displaced anyway.

    • IanT
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      An unusual thought but with some basis of truth too.

  46. Fred H
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Globalisation has failed, knew it would.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Pity you weren’t here to say that after Spanish Flu

      It would have been equally meaningless.

      It’s like saying “the atmosphere has failed” in response to air pollution.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        It is rather like you who keeps insisting everything done by the Chinese is wonderful.
        I have been saying consistently for quite some time on here that we should be self-sufficient, including getting out of the little EU club who just demonstrated they each looked after no. 1 when it mattered.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        so are you saying Globalisation hasn’t failed?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          It’s a descriptive term for a process. It is not a policy or doctrine.

          It was very helpful in the efforts to stop ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.

          It has been unhelpful for workers in developed nations trying to retain their relative living standards.

          There are many such examples on either side.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            answer the question Martin – still ducking?

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        No, Martin, it’s nothing like it.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Correct. The ones pushing for globalization are the industry’s leaders and the corrupt politicians that get paid off to help them. 5g is a classic example. China is an enemy and should be treated as such.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Btw. We’ve just booked a cruise for October so no lockdown there.

        • Andy
          Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          Man who rages against globalisation uses foreign made IT and software to post an online update about booking a cruise. Yes. A CRUISE. Peak Brexit.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            Andy, Why do you think Jonny Foreigner has an obligation to look after us? Peak Remain.

          • APL
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            Andy: “Yes. A CRUISE. Peak Brexit.”

            There is of course no contradiction to taking pleasure in visiting foreign parts, yet not wishing to be governed by foreign governments.

            And as an aside, post 1950, And before the EU existed it was the British that practically alone in Europe ‘kick started’ the Spanish Mediterranean tourist industry.

            While I understand you have a rabid dislike of the old, which you have expressed frequently, being old means you have a perspective on things that you young whippersnappers lack.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I can imagine that you have.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

            Martin, There is a world of difference between trading globally and being dependent on another state or bloc.

        • Margaret Howard
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          “Ian Wragg

          “Btw. We’ve just booked a cruise for October so no lockdown there.”

          You have my sympathy. Went on one once and that was in the more upmarket Mediterranean.

          Never again. They are nothing but coach trips on water these days full of ghastly people impossible to escape from.

          • NickC
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            Margaret H said: “full of ghastly people impossible to escape from” – that just about sums you up.

          • Fred H
            Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            MH – – beats me too.

  47. Caterpillar
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I agree with the general tenor of ‘buying from home’ or developing the real option, but the image I have from the media (so it may be wrong) is that much possible failure comes from the inability to actually implement buying from home whether PPE, testing or contact tracing – the country needs to be able to exercise the option. It seems the Govt has been very quick and able to switch resource off by lockdown, rather than it being usefully directed.

    [Robust countries tend to be those with a wide range of export types, rather than fewer specialised, as this indicates a breadth of competencies at international level. Making households robust has just become much more difficult with the Govt bailouts now in place; since saving/self-reliance has finally been confirmed as irrelevant it might be time to move to a UBI-like system i.e. withdraw the furlough extension and switch to UBI-like for all 18+; my bias for how this could be constituted is in old posts sometime Before Coronavirus Era.].

  48. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Through excessive tax and regulation successive governments have driven manufacturing businesses offshore to rather more laissez-faire environments.

    Import and distribution, nail bars, tattoo parlours, tourism and coffee shops do not make for a resilient economy and will be of little use in times of emergency, as we have now seen. We are about to pay a huge price for years of complacency by politicians who cannot see beyond the next election.

    Warren Buffet famously remarked –

    ” “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink


      Excessive tax, regulation, daft employment laws, and the expensive intermittent energy agenda from successive governments have driven manufacturing businesses (and much else) offshore. You compete or go bust in the private sector and the government ensures you cannot compete in the UK in very many such areas. Too much government, too much red tape, too many people essentially parasitic on the productive. They fools like Brown, Darling, Cameron, Hammond, May and Osborne complain about low productivity. Just look in the mirror for the causes of this!

  49. ChrisS
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    This Pandemic must be seen as a wake-up call for Government. Now that we have left the EU we are free to specify exactly where we want to source goods from, we will no longer be required to go to tender across the EU or anywhere else, for that matter. That’s just as well because the unedifying spectacle of each EU country ruthlessly putting their own interests first has shown that the European ideal is nothing more than a Brussels pipedream.

    The Pandemic may be a once in a 50yr event but there will be no excuse for shortages of vital goods next time. In future the NHS will need to maintain strategic supplies of all types of equipment and rotate it to ensure it is always in date.

    This need not cost a great deal as, apart from the on-going storage cost, the purchase of the strategic stock will be a one-off expense.

    • Margaret Howard
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink


      “Now that we have left the EU we are free to specify exactly where we want to source goods from…”

      Turkey anyone?

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Margaret H, As you well know (or ought to) ChrisS is wrong – we have not left the EU, and we are n0t “free to specify exactly where we want to source goods from”. We must still obey the EU’s CCP, until 1 Jan 2021 at least.

        • ChrisS
          Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          Given the present circumstances, you’re being a little precious and pedantic over whether we should still obey EU procurement rules related to any tenders put out during the next eight months. If the situation required it, I’m sure the Government would ignore any and all Brussels dictats.

          It will be a long time before current demand reduces and we are in a position to obtain and stock the enormous amount of PPE that would be needed to ensure a strategic supply sufficient for another pandemic.

          By that time we will certainly be completely free of Brussels and there will be no question of obeying any of their rules.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        its over-rated. Might as well eat chicken.

  50. NickC
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    JR, Why are government ministers being held to account for the purchase of every minor consumable in the NHS? Doesn’t the NHS run to buyers and procurement staff? Where are they? Where are the senior NHS management who supervise and are responsible for those buyers?

    This is all so reminiscent of the Remains who had no idea (by the way they talked) of the complexity and globalisation of supply chains; no idea how their cars, houses, appliances, TVs, phones, etc, are made. They give every impression of thinking that products appear by a a snap of the fingers out of thin air.

  51. Bob Dixon
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Whats happened to Simon Stevens?

    Why is he not included in the daily briefings?

  52. Gareth Warren
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I whole heatedly agree with your position.

    I would add, more as a simplification that we should formally add other areas to the same category as defense, a first suggestion is telecoms – we should put our telecoms in the hands of a unfriendly regime.

    I don’t know how we can ensure more PPE is possible to be made in the UK, here even friendly countries may not be reliable since they look after their own interests first, for example India.

    A suggestion would be over engineering uniform suppliers so they can be used in times of emergency. All this requires more taxes, but I don’t mind paying for developments that benefit the UK.

  53. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Off topic John

    Whilst I am aware that some hotel owners are being very, very charitable in allowing NHS staff, and some homeless people to use their accommodation and food for free during this emergency.

    Are the NHS paying other rather more National Companies for such emergency accommodation.

    Reason I ask is simple, like many thousands of others we have holidays cancelled on us by some companies who then do not want to refund anything, other than give a credit note which has no financial security/value if that organisation then goes broke or even changes its name, The usual Friday- Monday trick.

    And whilst this would appear to be initially covered under section 75 by the Credit card company, this is not the case for those holidays due shortly, but still within the lockdown period for vulnerable people.

    Given that companies can furlough staff at the taxpayer expense, are free of business rates at the taxpayers expense, do not have to purchase food when they are closed, can claim Vat delays at the taxpayer expense, can get cheap government loans at the taxpayers expense.

    Would be interesting to know if the NHS (taxpayer) are paying them for such accommodation as well.

    Worth a question ?

  54. Alison
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Indeed. Our inability to provide and fend for ourselves has terrified me for many years.

    Just now the EU is churning out stomach-curdling phrases, such as ‘Stronger Together’ (reminds us of anything?!). Trying to make up for the revelations in the last month that member states put themselves first, for example by closing borders to exports of material to other member states (and to the UK, as France did with PPE).

    I hope that David Frost and team bear this in mind.
    Indeed, surely all the more reason to agree at most a basic agreement with the EU. We should never be under procurement and state aid rules which require us to source things through open tender globally or with EU-wide.

  55. JoolsB
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Off topic John but just watching PMQ. Can you please inform this out of touch Government that those of us who are self employed and who have lost every penny of our income might not want to go down the benefits route or universal credit or whatever they are advising and that not all of us would be eligible anyway. Can you just tell them please, Raab in particular who refused to address this question, we just want to be treated the same as everyone else. i.e. see our incomes or least 80% of them guaranteed.

  56. stopevil
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    We know from the latest tests Covid-19 is no more harmful than any other seasonal coronavirus. so what is killing people?

    • hefner
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
      Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies
      See in particular SPI-M-O: Consensus statement on 2019 novel coronavirus.

    • APL
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      stopevil: “so what is killing people?”

      Old age coupled with acute medical conditions. Throw in close proximity to a lot of other similarly afflicted individuals. Where do you find such an environment?

      Care homes.

      But instead of locking down the care homes, the government leaves them exposed and locks down the rest of the economy.

  57. Newmania
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Recent experiences with delayed and cancelled deliveries of medical equipment and clothing from abroad should lead us to ask whether we should source more of these important items from home.

    Yes and we all recall, do we not ,that the UK economy was a model of efficiency services and competitive pricing when it was effectively protected prior to our entry to the EU.
    Thats right John why not force us all to buy those awful cars we used to make , the TR7 the Austin Allegro the Rust Bucketio Di Coventry . Bring bacon that stinks of fish inedible beef and the rest of the drizzly miserable shut up world of post war failure.

    Stay in and leave us alone , some young people can drop you off some soup and laundry – come out in about ten years …make it twenty

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes the days of the wonderful vesta curries !!
      Japanese cars were even worse than ours at that time.
      I think things have improved all over the World since then, including here.

      Just out of interest many of the cars of that period which are still in good condition, are now worth very many times their new value at the time.

    • NickC
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Newmania, Nobody forced you to buy British made cars. Many of the foreign cars at the time were poorly made or rust-prone. Labour supporting trade unions demoralised the British workforce, thereby reducing build quality. The Allegro was made in Birmingham, not Coventry. Bacon that stinks of fish has gone rotten (it’s a known process) and can happen in any era. Most (75%) beef in the UK is sourced from the UK, and is perfectly edible. Your sneers are just selective Remain bias.

    • peter soakel
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Great comment, free speech is wonderful, even if you are the only one that holds the opinion that you are freely allowed to pollute this comment thread with. Means everyone can see you and what you think)

  58. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    We must change our attitude to manufacturing. We must make far more things here and in volume. Cottage industry sized businesses are not enough. Get us out of the rules of the EU and in the meantime ignore them.

    We must instruct the City by law if needed to favour home owned businesses and weed out the many foreign owned City spiv businesses. No part of the City puts the UK first, only their own profits and commisions.

    We must retain ownership here. No more nurturing startups until they have a bit of fat then sell them off. We must take the long view, end the short-termism which has ruined us. Too many business here are foreign owned; profits and surplus cash sent out of the country.

    The greed of the City encouraged by governments who prostitute the country have brought about our current problems.

    • dixie
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      I agree with the core of what you say, though I suggest rather than just a few giant corps that seek to become multi-nationals we need to encourage many more medium sized businesses. Aim for many 100 – 1,000 head companies that can focus on and support the national market then either cooperate or grow to meet the capability of the giants. Meanwhile encourage and support the cottage industries & startups to grow to that size for a base of supporting a local market.

      Desktop 3D printing started in the UK as a cottage industry but with no real investor interest the opportunity slipped away to the US and China. That is the problem to address – give small/risky ventures support and the chance to ignite and tackle the asymmetry of trade with lower cost nations.

  59. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    It is a given that it will be the us that rebuilds our structures, brings us back to the new norm. What we don’t need is the daily showboating, the desire from those that pretend to be in charge to suggest they have something in mind just around the corner each day.

    It was always dumb to suggest Huawei was right for our telecoms industry based solely on BT’s financial commitment to them. BT is exposed to being taken over by Huawei. China is poised to make a number of high profile takeovers to exploit the Covid situation.

    The India Government has seen the trap and has banned these Chinese moves on the grounds of national security. China is now crying to WTO. All the while China refuses reciprocal arrangements.

    This war is turning out to be more than a war against an unseen enemy, but who when the dust settles will get to be its ruler.

    • John E
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t disagree about decoupling from China, but it needs a bit of thought and planning. Rushing to condemn them while we are dependent on them for PPE for example might not be the wisest thing to do.
      It needs some cool minds and determination to undo what has been done at the right time. Not politicians looking for scapegoats to distract from their own failures.

    Posted April 22, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    When the hell did the NHS become a police service dictating to people what we must and mustn’t do?

    Is this the UK or have we been transported back to Soviet Russia, National Socialist Germany or East Germany? Please someone tell me, as I’d really like to know

    God forbid, I feel like we’re under attack

    This is a direct result of voting for incumbent party politicians who prefer the cozy status quo rather than protecting our most ancient freedoms and liberties

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink


      Today I read that some are arguing for strict isolation to be applied to age 50 and above to ‘protect the NHS’ – the aim seeming to be to generate empty hospitals transporting us back to a fiction of February 1981 ‘The Compassionate Society’ in ‘Yes Minister’. Of course locking up the over 50s would take out a whole bunch of people who may have some memory of individual responsibility and freedom. It is clearly insufficient for some to see death counts not directly associated with Covid19 to be increasing to protect the NHS, locking up those who may question is seemingly another tactic.

      The reason you feel under attack is because you are; it is though too late to fight back. People are dying unnecessarily for non-Covid19 reasons, lives will be lost due to the economic destruction, the assumption of liberty has gone and will not return. Those whose aim it is to impoverish the lives of the majority have succeeded.

    • NickC
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Dominic, Yes, the NHS is supposed to save us. It should not be we who save the NHS.

  61. Everhopeful
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Why do so many people (1000 comments on Mumsnet supposedly from medical staff) keep saying that the hospitals are empty??
    Yet I’ll people can’t get to hospital.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      They are trying to get the death figures up to justify their lockdown. Denying all health care and keeping people in isolation was probably a good start. Next – the vaccine!

      • APL
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Lynn Atkinson: “They are trying to get the death figures up to justify their lockdown. ”

        Yes, coupled with characterizing every death with COVID-19 as a death from COVID-19. This whole thing is a fraud driven hysteria.

        Lynn Atkinson: “Next – the vaccine!”

        Why would anyone, other than the ignorant, believe a vaccine for COVID-19 is feasible or practicable, when we don’t yet have a vaccine for AIDS which has had £billions spent on it and been under active research for 35 years. Result? No vaccine.

    • NickC
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Because the government was stampeded into trashing the economy to “Save the NHS”.

  62. Rhoddas
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir J, if one reads the Guardian today there is an article about the outsourced UK’s ‘secret’ Pandemic warehouse facility in/near Warrington, where 52,000 pallets of PPE and other flu pandemic supplies are stored. Ownership is passing from Moviento (a subsidiary of the US health company Owens & Minor) to the French company EHDH Holding Group, under a deal agreed on 6 April. It makes salutory reading #PHE-Toytown.

    I have recommended (as have others) for several weeks now that the army take over emergency logistics and get the PPE to the front line NOW, no more procrastination.

    We can sort out the NHS logistics management afterwards… 😉

    • ChrisS
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      I also read the Guardian article but nowhere does it say that the change of ownership has made any difference whatsoever to the operation of the business. It was essentially a non-story in a left-wing newspaper trying, yet again, to knock any involvement of the private sector within the NHS.

      I suspect that if the procurement side of the NHS was being run by the private sector there would not have been the shortages the press have constantly been reporting on.

      In the way of a reality check, it is obvious that no NHS employee has died for lack of the proper provision of protective clothing. It there had been, the Unions and Labour would have been making the most almighty fuss about it. The fact that they haven’t, means that it has not happened.

      Of course, there have been tragic deaths in the ranks of the Health Service but with around 1 million employees, that was always going to be a statistic certainty. We will probably never know how many NHS employees have been infected away from their workplace but, given the precautions being taken, it must be a substantial proportion of the total.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      life is tough at the moment, but having to read the Guardian is a step too far.

  63. Vernon Wright
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    One thing your consideration of the problem omits, Sir John, is likely the largest contributor to the instant problem: just-in-time stock control, beloved of every type of accountant.

    Setting re-order levels and quantities so as to be only just able to meet demand in favorable times inevitably risks being unable to do so in unfavorable ones.


    • John E
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      Just in Time started in Greater Tokyo where all the suppliers were easily able to replenish stocks daily. Applying it to global supply chains where lead times are multiple weeks was always going to end in tears at some point. But really who could afford to keep stock at the levels needed in a pandemic?
      The answer for key items such as medicines and PPE is still JIT, but with local supply chains, not international ones.
      Companies supplying the “nice to have” stuff that we can do without in an emergency should still be free to source as they wish, but not expect the Government to bail them out with our money when their model fails.

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        John E, Exactly right – finally someone who understands JIT and supply chains. Thank you.

  64. Edwardm
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Spot on.
    In future we need to ensure we have and retain capability to produce our own critical medical supplies. Our manufacturing industry is rising well to the current challenge, but it would be prudent to build in adaptability to future production lines. Given that we do much pharmaceutical research in this country it is wrong that we have not retained significant production facilities.
    In terms of available supplies not reaching NHS end users – surely the over paid senior NHS managers need to be called to account.
    On the defence side we need re-establish our own production capabilities for items we buy from unreliable countries (such as reliance on semiconductors from non-Nato countries).
    British Steel creates specialist steels (crucial for defence industry) and ought to be British owned – if that means in its much reduced size it has to be government owned, then so be it. Once British companies that create valuable intellectual property should not be sold off to China. We should not buy from Huawei (the advice given to the government was blatantly technically wrong – there should be an inquiry into how it came to be).

    O/T. Surely it should be permissible for families in towns to go to parks or to the beach so long as they stay well apart (say 30 feet) in this good weather. Why are DIY stores having to restrict what they supply (even by click and collect) ? These are all unnecessary frustrations.

  65. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Someone on face book today commented that he had offered to make PPE equipment and he was ignored.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes apparently 8,000 companies have applied we are informed, some with not a clue as to what is required, or how product is made.

      It would clearly take some time to check these out to see who is capable and who is not, given all product has to meet a certain standard.

      Guido Fawkes is worth reading today link is on this website.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Was it to the right quality ppe to ce standard?
      What price did he have to charge if s/he was starting the operation up from scratch?
      Was it gowns made from the correct fluid repellent fabric?
      Why didn’t he offer to sell it to care home groups.

  66. David Brown
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    No doubt tomorrows “big night in” telethon being screened by the BBC will highlight the very valuable work being done by the NHS and almost by default mention PPE and procurement problems. We know there have been many willing volunteers helping with the current pandemic and they deserve our gratitude along with all the services.
    As I understand it the purpose of tomorrow nights programme is to raise money for the NHS charity and highlight the problems hospitals face.
    I fully support donations what I find quite difficult is that a public broadcaster has been approached to screen this even with chosen presenters. I wonder if they are being paid?. If they are its a bit much that we pay the BBC and in turn the BBC broadcasts what is almost a full night of potential political messages. To me I think we all need to submit freedom of information requests to the BBC and ask simply are the presenters being paid YES or NO

  67. Graham Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Since ‘Project Fear’ reared its ugly head post 23rd June 2016, I have ceased buying grocery produce sourced from other €U countries, and now only buy British or Commonwealth sourced fruit & veg.

    It is now time to boycott goods made in China, especially if similar goods can be sourced closer ot home.

    I would hope (…though am not holding my breath) that the likes of eBay and Amazon would permit their customers to actively filter out and avoid Chinese goods from appearing in their product searches. It is now all-but-impossible to avoid what you thought were ‘local’ purchases, from a British location, arriving three weeks later with a Chinese postmark and customs sticker on the package.

  68. rose
    Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Starmer today was so dishonest. He left out the fact that the Government has been incredibly quick and efficient:

    1 With the incredibly complicated and bold financial measures
    2 With the massive legislation needed for these and the curfew
    3 With the building of the Nightingale hospitals
    4 With the expansion of capacity in the NHS and taking over private hospitals
    5 With co-operation with private enterprise
    6 With managing the curfew itself

    He really ought to be working for the BBC.

    • rose
      Posted April 22, 2020 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      He is in no position to judge whether the Government was slow in imposing curfew because no-one in the world knows the future of this pandemic. Maybe in two years time he might be able to make a layman’s guess with a bit more credibility.

      On PPE, the Government was not slow, but subject, as we all are, to the law of supply and demand. A man of integrity would have asked, how can we best adapt to this reality?

      As for tests, these are a red herring, another pretext for bringing down the Government. If someone is tested one day, even if the test is reliable which it might not be, they can be infected the next day. I noticed Starmer didn’t demand daily tests for everyone.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Rose, he’s working for the EU which will become apparent soon.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Rose coloured spectacles?

      • rose
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Whether or not these were the right things to do, no-one can say they were slow.

    • APL
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      rose: “He really ought to be working for the BBC.”

      a-tracy: “Rose, he’s working for the EU which will become apparent soon.”

      Same thing

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Rose, do you understand what an “Opposition” is for?

      • rose
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I do, but I don’t think Starmer does. He is not supposed to parade himself theatrically as a failed QC but as a constructive member of Parliament, making constructive suggestions about what to do in our predicament, and asking intelligent questions. As it was, he just went with the MSM on confected outrage.

      • NickC
        Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Obviously you don’t. Because an “opposition” is not simply to knee-jerk oppose everything the government does. That would be both childish and thoughtless. Oh . . . .

  69. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 23, 2020 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    I think that the Coronavirus pandemic has shown up the inflexibility of the NHS’s centralised procurement policy.

    There are any number of British firms in the rag trade who could quite easily have switched production to PPE. All that the NHS had to do was to supply an outline specification and negotiate a price with each company.

    Likewise, a number of firms could have manufactured ventilators. GTech, whose design used standard components and could have been rapidly produced in numbers, were told to stop production. Dyson are contracted to supply 10,000 but I don’t know the delivery date. It may not be until the crisis is more or less over.

    State organisations like the NHS prefer to have one supplier with contracts awarded after competitive tendering. The technical specification is cast in stone. In a pandemic, this approach causes delay and costs lives.

  70. Stred
    Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    It seems that the NHS has held staggering quantities of PPE and other stocks of anti virals, vaccine etc in enormous warehouses and transferred most of it to the warehouse in Warrington. This has been the subject of various legal disputes between the tenants and the developers and the tenants have been sold as well as the warehouse. The electricity supply has also been disputed. It took weeks and the army to arrange the delivery of vital stocks from this warehouse. Just what was going on and how many lives have been lost through delay? This farce has to be exposed. MPs need to ask questions.

    • rose
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      No minister is ever going to split on the NHS or the Civil Service, so it has to be back benchers.

  71. Original Richard
    Posted April 23, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    This pandemic has shown how our country is exposed to a biological attack.

    We need more automation and robots in all possible areas. For instance, driverless trains and the further development of ways to grow and pick crops.

    We see that private cars are far safer than mass transit systems and that we need a much better internet. HS2 should be scrapped and replaced with fibre to every office and dwelling.

    We need to develop 3D printing. Firstly to reduce our reliance on imports and secondly to encourage the design of products to be repairable through the ease of printing of replacement parts

  72. rose
    Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    No, that flows from overpopulation which came about after the loss of manufacturing.

    • rose
      Posted April 23, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      This was meant to be under Marin from Cardiff’s remark about high rents.

  73. DavidJ
    Posted April 23, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Good and necessary suggestions. We need to be far more self sufficient as once we were.

  • 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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