Matthew Taylor

Sajid Javid: More restrictions cannot be ruled out before Christmas

Sajid Javid: More restrictions cannot be ruled out before Christmas
(Photo: BBC)
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Sajid Javid – More restrictions cannot be ruled out before Christmas

With Sunday’s interview shows enjoying their last outing of the year, one might be forgiven for thinking that things would be wrapped up as neatly as presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. Instead, signs of the new year’s arguments and battles were laid bare. Leaked minutes from a recent meeting of the Sage advisory committee have fuelled rumours of a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to deal with Covid’s Omicron wave. The Prime Minister remains in a precarious position, and his lack of authority would make any such imposition difficult without sending the Conservative parliamentary party into full scale revolt. Andrew Marr was joined by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and Marr asked him if he could rule out a circuit breaker, or indeed anything else, before the year was out:

SJ: There are no guarantees in this pandemic. At this point we just have to keep everything under review.

Lord Frost ‘has resigned out of principle’

Last night, Boris Johnson’s position was rocked further by the resignation of Lord David Frost, the government’s chief Brexit minister. Frost cited concerns over the governments ‘current direction of travel’, and singled out uneasiness about further restrictions as a reason for his departure. Javid paid tribute to his former colleague:

SJ: I think he’s been an outstanding public servant… but he’s resigned out of principle… and I think we have to respect that.

North Shropshire result ‘was our fault’

Perhaps the outstanding moment which bought home the government’s woes was the loss of the North Shropshire by-election on Thursday. The seat is considered traditionally safe territory for the Conservative party, and outgoing MP Owen Paterson won it with a majority of almost 23,000 in 2019. The Liberal Democrats now hold it with a majority of nearly 6,000. Javid raised the way the government dealt with the lobbying scandal as one of the reasons for the defeat:

SJ: It was out fault… We got a number of things wrong… We now have to learn lessons.

Wes Streeting – Javid ‘looks like a hostage’

The new Shadow Health Secretary joined Trevor Phillips and sought to put pressure on his opposite number by setting him against his own backbenchers. Streeting told Phillips that he wanted to see action ‘sooner rather than later’ and that Labour was fully prepared to back tougher restrictions, giving Javid a free hand to do whatever he wished – though not without a cost:

WS: He looked like a hostage to his own party. That’s because he is… The good news is, the Labour party is here to rescue him from that situation.

Andrew Bridgen – Boris should ‘change or go’

As if to underline the dangers of jumping into Labour’s outstretched arms, Conservative backbencher Andrew Bridgen made an appearance on Times Radio with Kait Borsay, where he made his displeasure with the Prime Minister plain for all to hear. Bridgen said that he and many of his fellow MPs saw Lord Frost’s resignation as a ‘watershed moment’:

AB: The answer, for Boris Johnson, is to change or go… The Prime Minister needs to think very carefully… whether he wants to change.

Ed Davey – ‘The Conservatives can be beaten anywhere’

Phillips interviewed the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey. Davey was jubilant about the result of the North Shropshire by-election, with the addition of Helen Morgan providing his party with an early Christmas present:

ED: I’m really proud of our party… We’ve proven that the Conservatives can be beaten anywhere.

Andrew Marr – ‘You stay classy San Diego’

And finally, today marks the end of an era as Marr, who has been with the BBC since 2000, and on his Sunday morning show since 2005, bows out to join the New Statesman. Announcing that Sophie Raworth will be taking over next year, Marr signed off with the catchphrase of another legend of TV journalism, the ‘Channel 4 News Team’ anchorman Ron Burgundy:

AM: I have been so lucky and so privileged to share so many Sunday mornings with you… You stay classy San Diego.