Boris Johnson: Social distancing, holidays, Wilfred’s nanny – Five things we learned today in Hartlepool visit

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Boris Johnson visited Hartlepool today to drum up support for the Tories in the by-election on Thursday.

It is seen as a key barometer of how the country views recent controversies involving the Prime Minister.

He was interviewed during the visit and made a number of statements on some key issues facing the country during the Covid-19 crisis including potential relaxing of the social distancing rules, foreign travel and the Manchester United fan protest.

Here is a rundown of what the Prime Minister had to say:

Social distancing rules – potential change on June 21

Mr Johnson said when asked about reports that the one metre plus rule could be done away with appeared to back a report that the one-metre-plus rule will be scrapped in pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres from June 21.

“I think we’ve got a good chance, a good chance, of being able to dispense with one-metre plus,” he said.

“As things stand, and the way things are going, with the vaccine rollout going the way that it is – we have done 50 million jabs as I speak to you today, quarter of the adult population, one in four have had two jabs.

“You are seeing the results of that really starting to show up in the epidemiology.

“I think that we will be able to go ahead, feels like May 17 is going to be good.

“But it also looks to me as though June 21 we’ll be able to say social distancing as we currently have to do it, the one-metre plus, I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre plus from June 21.

“That is still dependent on the data, we can’t say it categorically yet, we have got to look at the epidemiology as we progress, we have got to look at where we get to with the disease. But that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

Foreign Holidays

Because of the rise in coronavirus infections abroad the PM was cautious about widespread lifting of restrictions on May 17.

The Prime Minister said there will be “some opening up” on May 17, but that things must be done in a way “to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in” to the UK.

Mr Johnson’s cautious tone came as some MPs called for restrictions on foreign holidays to be maintained to protect the country from Covid-19 variants, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged a “careful” approach.

Mr Johnson told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool: “We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.

“I certainly don’t and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up.”

Asked if people should be planning foreign holidays, he told reporters: “We will be saying more as soon as we can.

“I think that there will be some openings up on the 17th, but we have got to be cautious and we have got to be sensible and we have got to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in.”

Mr Johnson also said he hopes the first foreign holidays will be allowed “on” May 17. Previously he’d said international travel would only resume from that date at the earliest.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the “chopping and changing” of the travel corridors list introduced last summer, as he said he will “wait and see” what the Government announces on plans to restart international travel.

“We need to be very careful. I think it’s clear that the virus is increasing in some countries around the world, so we have to be very, very careful,” he told reporters during a campaign visit to Lewisham.

“What we can’t have is a repeat of last summer, where the lists were chopping and changing on a daily or even weekly basis.

“So I’ll wait and see what the Government has to say but I think we have to be very careful and very cautious.”


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Did Tory donors pay for Wilfred’s childcare?

When asked by a reporter: “Was a Tory donor ever asked to pay for your son Wilfred’s childcare yes or no?”

Boris Johnson replied: “No. I’m finding that what people in this election want to talk about is the issues that matter to them. I know that people want to focus on all that kind of stuff, but I’m finding that what people want to talk about is what we’re going to do to keep their council tax low and make sure we give them better services for lower council tax.” Mr Johnson also refused to answer questions relating to the money spent on the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

On the issue of British mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who has been imprisoned in Iran Boris Johnson said the UK was doing “everything we can to look after the interests” of her after Iranian state TV suggested Britain would pay a £400 million debt to secure her release.

“There are two entirely separate issues,” the Prime Minister told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool.

“We of course make sure that we do everything we can to look after the interests of Nazanin and all the very difficult dual national cases we have in Tehran.”

Manchester United fan protest

Boris Johnson said he understood “people’s strength of feeling” on football and club ownership, after protests caused Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool to be postponed.

Fans broke into the Old Trafford stadium ahead of the game on Sunday and invaded the pitch, in a protest against United’s American owners, the Glazer family.

Bottles and barriers were thrown at Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers outside the club’s home ground, leaving two injured, with one needing hospital treatment.

Asked about the scenes on Sunday, the Prime Minister told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have disruptive behaviour, demonstrations of that kind.

“But on the other hand, I do understand people’s strength of feeling.

“And I think that it’s a good thing that we have been able to do things that make it pretty clear that the European Super League is not going to be appreciated by the people of this country, or by this Government.”

The Red Devils were among 12 clubs that last month signed up for the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.



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