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The Breakfast Briefing: Give us yer vaxxin’ money, PM’s Sunday sermon - and Labour demands mask plan

3 min read

Your morning guide to what’s moving in Westminster, from PolHome acting editor Matt Honeycombe-Foster

International cooperation has been in short supply over the past few years but Boris Johnson will today call the hunt for the coronavirus vaccine the “most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes” as the UK tries to prise wallets open at a major (and of course, virtual) international pledging conference.
After chairing the usual Covid-19 Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister will jump on one heck of a conference call as the UK co-hosts the Global Vaccine Summit with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the European Commission all in attendance.
Britain is pumping another £388m into research funding, Number 10 announced last night, and will be urging other countries to do the same. The PM will say: “To win this battle, we must work together to build an impregnable shield around all our people, and that can only be achieved by developing and mass producing a vaccine.”
The truth, of course, is that normal life is likely to remain a distant dream without that elusive vaccine. The Mail’s John Stevens reports this morning that the PM will give a prime time address next Sunday setting out “a timeline for when workplaces and schools will reopen” - but ministers spent the weekend making clear that “business as usual” remains a very distant prospect, with staggered working hours, hand sanitiser at bus stops, and even regional lockdowns in the mix.
The PM’s Sunday night slot has reportedly been chosen to maximise the number of viewers (no point doing it on Friday when everyone’s down the pub - oh, hang on), and the address should see the unveiling of a new slogan to supersede that long-running ‘Stay At Home’ message. Businesses and unions are already being consulted on how a safe, phased return to work might happen - and there’s been a glimmer of hope in the quest to find a reliable a coronavirus antibody test, a key part of the “track and trace” next phase of the fight.
Labour is meanwhile demanding answers about how the PM’s hint at a change in the guidance on face coverings, extending their use to the wider public, will be squared with the ongoing trouble in getting PPE to the frontline.
Reprising the Opposition’s refrain of recent days that the UK response to the pandemic has been “too slow”, frontbencher Rachel Reeves said: “We need to know what the plans are to stockpile facemasks in readiness for any change in the scientific advice. This is an opportunity for ministers to get ahead of the game and demonstrate they have learned from their mistakes, and we stand ready to help them to achieve that.“
Truly, peace in our time.

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