Blog: A Brexit no-deal and coronavirus double whammy will be too much for the UK to bear – The Independent


I could not agree more with Sean O’Grady’s comments that with this no-deal brinkmanship, slap bang in the Covid-19 country, we are all inhabiting more fear in our curtailed lives. To hear gratuitous talk on even the possibility of a no-deal outcome is outrageous. I appreciate that this modus operandi is par for the course in these torturous negotiations, but surely not in such a crisis-ridden world?

It is so plainly wrong to mess with businesses and people’s livelihoods in this cavalier fashion. 

O’Grady is correct, a simple phone call to Ursula von der Leyen to extend the transition period is what is needed now, even at this late hour. If Boris Johnson is trying to placate his hard right-wing Brexit MPs, along with the ERG, this is disgraceful and will not be forgiven or forgotten by a country now on its economic knees.

I am not convinced that pragmatism and sanity are words that feature heavily in the prime minister’s vocabulary, but they should and must. Because as stated the double whammy of a no-deal and Covid-19 will be too much to bear and should not be countenanced. Stop this kamikaze rhetoric and act for the economic and sustained good of the country and not the Brexit slogans which never made much sense in the first place.

Vaccination delays

Mary Dejevsky asked “what took them so long?” in relation to Exeter University taking part in an international trial of the old anti-tuberculosis (TB) vaccine against coronavirus. 

BCG vaccination has potential as an important element of the global armamentarium in responding to the present Covid-19 pandemic. It merits careful scientific scrutiny in a large clinical trial such as we are doing in the BRACE collaboration.

In Exeter, we first sought prioritisation of a trial of BCG and the necessary funding in March 2020 but several sources were unforthcoming. International coordination in such enterprises is essential and was a feature of all of our submissions. We are now delighted to be part of international collaborative trial funded through the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as others including the Peter Sowerby Foundation.  

UK clinical research faces severe challenges in funding. The availability and prioritisation of resources, and the protracted cycle of securing and delivering high-quality research are recurring problems for researchers in the UK. Being fleet of foot and having sufficient core capacity (for example inaccessible Clinical Trials Units) will allow scientists to respond quickly to important emerging research questions and are of vital importance. Judicious, but visionary investing of research resource is most likely to lead to scientific gains for research investors and the wider community. 

With changes in research funding arrangements on the immediate horizon, the UK will do well to ensure its scientists are optimally resourced and supported to ensure continuing development and delivery of world-class research. 

John Campbell, Lynne Quinn, Neil Gow, BRACE Trial, and Nigel Curtis, of the BRACE Trial, 

The University of Exeter and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne

Dentists check-ups

Can someone explain why it is permissible for hearing and sight services to proceed but basic dental checks – not treatment – is now not happening? Unless of course, you pay privately for check-ups. Vital checks for life-threatening conditions such as oral cancers will not happen because NHS dentists have closed their doors to local NHS patients. Surely, with a good level of PPE and patient testing people can have check-ups and dentists can build a picture of a backlog of future work when full services are resumed. 

Brexit extension

I read that the UK government has given a Brexit extension to owners of UK registered yachts currently moored in EU waters to avoid them paying extra tax, because they haven’t been able to move them to UK waters, due to Covid-19. One rule for the rich?

We also hear business owners saying they haven’t been able to get ready for Brexit due to Covid-19, so how about a Brexit extension for everybody?

Football travel

We are in a pandemic with major restrictions on movement and gatherings which have led to the closure of bars, restaurants and even schools. Yet football seems immune to the laws of the country. 

Leagues, the European Championship, and international games require national and overseas travel in aircraft, trains, and coaches by teams and their entourage. Matches include and pre and post-match contact, social distancing is ignored, and then teams separate to return to their respective towns and families. It is hypocrisy on a major scale as well as a source of spreading the virus. 

Lockdown infringements

I am at a loss to understand why the police do not take further the blatant lockdown infringements by known people – Margaret Ferrier, Robert Jenrick and, infamously, Dominic Cummings.

Why are they beyond the law? What’s going on here?

To see them behave with impunity only serves to make those of us not in the public eye believe we also can behave as we want and ignore any rules.

Many ordinary people are being fined and possibly brought before the courts for disobedience. It’s beyond disgraceful that the more “important” people (not that they are, particularly) get away with it, fancy free.

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