15. Weekly Newsletter
PM Johnson in Ukraine
Over the weekend, PM Johnson has been in Kyiv whilst pledging fresh rounds of aid to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The PM’s office, Number 10, described the visit as ‘showing solidarity’ with the Ukrainian people and comes as the UK has committed to send 120 armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems to support Ukraine. Additionally, PM Johnson paid tribute to President Zelensky, commending his “resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people”. The PM further clarified that the “United Kingdom stands unwaveringly with [Ukraine] in this ongoing fight, and we are in it for the long run”.
PM Johnson’s presence in Ukraine had not been publicly announced until the Ukrainian embassy in London posted a photograph of the world leader on Twitter. It has also been revealed that the UK is offering further economic support for the nation with added loan guarantees now totalling £770m. To counter the Russian attacks the PM has also reiterated his intention for the UK to move away from Russian hydrocarbons. Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said: “The UK is the leader in defence support for Ukraine. The leader in the anti-war coalition. The leader in sanctions against the Russian aggressor”. PM Johnson is the first G7 leader to visit Ukraine since the war began with von der Leyen and Austria’s Chancellor also having visited in recent days.
Newspapers & COVID Update
The UK’s front page news cycle this week looked at a wide range of topics with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine continuing to dominate the headlines. This week The Guardian ran the headline: “PM’s push for nuclear power splits Tories (ruling party) and angers green groups” as the UK looks to improve energy security for the long-term. The Independent looked at the UK’s finance minister (Sunak) “fighting for political survival” following revelations about his wife’s tax affairs. Some of the headlines of the flagship Sunday papers read:
- The Mail on Sunday: “Rishi’s (Sunak’s) On The Brink”
- Sunday Express: “Boris vows ‘unwavering support’ with £100m in arms for Ukraine”
- The Independent: “Johnson’s face-to-face with Zelensky”
- The Sunday Times: “Sunak’s wife escapes No 11 goldfish bowl” (Sunak moves out of home next to PM’s)
- The Sunday Telegraph: “Full-scale Nato military force to defend borders”
- The Observer: “PM pledges new arms during surprise visit to war-torn Kyiv”
By the end of last week (10th April 2022), the UK had recorded a total of 21.549m positive COVID cases since the start of the pandemic which had increased by a total of 333,347 over the last seven days. Around mid-March the UK had been experiencing a fresh wave of cases in which daily totals had been reaching almost 100,000 per day but this has now halved. However, the PM last week did state that he “cannot rule out another lockdown” but there remains no evidence of this occurring in the near future. So far, the UK has issued 52.873m first doses on the COVID vaccine, 49.520m of the second dose and 38.829m of the third- bringing the total number of inoculations to 141.321m.
Port of Dover Queues
The UK’s busiest international port, Dover, which in 2020 transported 4.4m people (UK’s 2nd largest port, Holyhead, transported 0.8m) and handled 486.1m tonnes of goods in pre-pandemic times (2019) is currently facing widespread delays. Bad weather, Easter holidays and one of Britain’s largest ferry companies (P&O) suspending routes has led to economically detrimental congestion at the port. The British Meat Processors Association has stated that some of their drivers have waited over 24 hours to cross the English Channel to the continent.
Queues have been stretching as far as 20 miles and are reportedly costing transport companies £800 per lorry as perishable goods go ‘bad’. As such, hauliers of perishable goods are now lobbying for priority access at the port. From July this year, the UK will start imposing Brexit controls on meat and dairy goods that come in from the EU and some industry insiders believe this will create another backlog at Dover during the summer.