10.46am GMT10:46 Boris Johnson is about to start his press conference on the coronavirus action plan. We will be covering it here, on our coronavirus outbreak live blog. 10.45am GMT10:45 And here is ITV’s Carl Dinnen with another line from the coronavirus action plan. Carl Dinnen (@carldinnen) NEW Police and medical professionals will be given…
Boris Johnson is about to start his press conference on the coronavirus action plan.
We will be covering it here, on our coronavirus outbreak live blog.
And here is ITV’s Carl Dinnen with another line from the coronavirus action plan.
And here is a summary of the coronavirus action plan from the BBC’s Chris Mason.
UK coronavirus plans would strip police and fire services to essentials
Here is my colleague Kate Proctor’s report on the government’s coronavirus action plans.
And this is how it starts.
Police and fire services will only respond to the most serious call-outs if their staff fall ill through coronavirus, the government warned on Tuesday, in a key planning document setting out how ministers would deal with an escalating outbreak.
The 28-page action plan envisages that up to a fifth of the national workforce could be absent from work, schools could close and elderly people would be advised not to attend social gatherings.
The measures would only be rolled out if the virus moved beyond the currently designated “contain phase”.
The advice was released in the Coronavirus: Action Plan on Tuesday as the number of cases in the UK stood at 40.
If the illness moves into the “delay” and “mitigate” phases, retired NHS staff could be brought back to help care for patients, the document says.
“With a significant loss of officers and staff, the police would concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order,” it said.
It states there could be an increase in deaths arising from the outbreak, particularly among vulnerable and elderly groups, and that local authorities will need help to deal with that challenge, presumably in relation to morgue capacity.
This is from the Labour group on the Local Government Association on the leaked Labour report saying the party is expected to do badly in this spring’s local elections. (See 9.06am.)
Q: Are you considering loans to banks or cuts to interest rates? And how will you know when you need to act?
Carney says the bank is considering its options.
And it is “sighted” on what the chancellor is planning for his budget, he says.
He says he expects the collective international response to be “both powerful and timely”.
Carney says he does not expect coronavirus economic shock to be as bad as 2008
At the Treasury committee, Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, is taking questions about coronavirus. Labour’s Liz Kendall is asking the questions.
Q: Are you updating your forecasts in the light of coronavirus?
Carney says the bank is in the process of doing that now.
He says the impact of the virus is potentially large.
It is reasonable to expect that the impact of coronavirus in the places where it has been spread will be felt for one quarter (ie, for three months), or potentially for two quarters.
Carney says health is paramount; economic considerations should be secondary.
He says the UK is one of the most open economies in the world.
But there are differences from the financial crash of 2008, he says.
He says banking is part of the solution, not part of the problem, this time.
And he says household debt relative to income is lower than it was in 2008. He says the “policy response” should involve ensuring people do not have to draw on all their “buffers” (ie, their savings).
He says there will be disruption, but not destruction.
The shock could be large.
But the persistence of that impact can and should be different from 2008, he says.
- Carney says he does not expect coronavirus economic shock to be as bad as 2008.
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, has said Priti Patel should stand down as home secretary while she is subject to a Cabinet Office inquiry into allegations she bullied civil servants. Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Abbott said:
You can’t have a government that’s at war with its civil servants.
We want a genuinely independent inquiry – a lawyer-led inquiry and something that can be seen to be independent.
I’m afraid it would be better if she stepped down.
We are calling on her to step down whilst the inquiry goes on.
According to this Reuters report, in a speech to the World Trade Organization today Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, will say that the UK will “make the case to update the WTO rulebook to tackle underlying trade tensions, such as industrial subsidies”.
David Henig, who heads the UK Trade Policy Project, finds this hard to square with the UK’s refusal to accept level playing field rules in the trade deal it is negotiating with the EU.
Here is the full text of Mark Carney’s opening statement to the committee about coronavirus. And here is an extract.
The Bank of England’s role is to help UK businesses and households manage through an economic shock that could prove large but will ultimately be temporary.
The bank will take all necessary steps to support the UK economy and financial system, consistent with its statutory responsibilities.
We are monitoring the situation closely across all our functions and ensuring all necessary contingency plans are in place.
Mark Carney tells MPs Bank of England will take ‘all necessary steps’ to help UK through potentially ‘large’ coronavirus economic shock
Carney told the Treasury committee that the Bank of England’s role in the coronavirus outbreak was “to help UK businesses and households manage through an economic shock that could prove large but will ultimately be temporary”.
He said the bank would “take all necessary steps to support the UK economy and financial system consistent with its statutory responsibilities”.
Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, has just started giving evidence to the Commons Treasury committee.
He starts with a prepared statement about coronavirus.
There is a live feed here.
Matt Hancock’s morning interviews – Summary
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gave a round of interviews this morning about the government’s coronavirus action plan. He was even allowed to appear on the Today programme, with the No 10 ministerial ban temporary lifted due to the severity of the crisis. My colleague Ben Quinn was covering Hancock’s comments on the coronavirus live blog, but here is a quick summary of what he said.
- Hancock said at this point the government was advising people to carry on with normal life. He said:
Right now, that is what people should be doing and otherwise going about their normal daily life because we want to minimise the level of disruption, subject to doing the things we need to do to keep people safe.
- He said that effective action to contain the spread of coronavirus was still possible.
- But he also said the government plan being published this morning would explain what might have to happen if the spread becomes a pandemic. He said:
It’s quite unusual for a government to publish a plan with things in it we hope we won’t have to do.
- He said at this point he could not say if events like the London Marathon would have to be cancelled. Asked about the marathon, he said:
It’s far too early to be able to tell in that instance.
What we can say for sure is that, right now, we do not recommend the cancelling of mass events, and schools as well should not be closing unless there is both a positive case and the school has had the advice to close from Public Health England.
- He said people who had to self-isolate would qualify for sick pay, even if they were healthy. He said:
Self-isolating for medical reasons if you are healthy counts as being sick in the legislation.
- He hinted that the government was considering what might be done to help self-employed people who have to give up work because they are self-isolating. Asked about people in this category, he said:
There’s a system in place through DWP [the Department of Work and Pensions] to help people who are in difficult circumstances because of that, and we keep these things under review. I talked to the welfare secretary [Thérèse Coffey] yesterday about it. Of course we keep that under review.
- He accepted that the government had to make a trade-off between protecting people and allowing economic life to continue. Asked if he accepted that there was a trade-off, he replied:
To a degree. The answer to the question, which obviously we’ve been thinking very hard about, and the prime minister is leading the thinking on this, is that we will be guided by the science, and that we will minimise social and economic disruption, subject to keeping people safe.
- He said the experts were not advising people to give up shaking hands, because the health impacts of hand shaking were “negligible”. But it was important for people to wash their hands regularly, he said.
Labour facing one of worst local elections in recent history in 2020, leaked party report suggests
Labour’s general election result was the worst for the party, in terms of seats won, since 1935, but there is more electoral misery to come in the local elections, according to an internal party report leaked to the BBC’s Iain Watson. The document says the party is facing “one of our worst local election performances in recent history” in England and should brace itself for the loss of “hard working councillors” across the country.
In his report Watson goes on:
The document examines three different scenarios, based on varying polling methods – and taking into account Labour’s general election performance.
These suggest the so-called red wall, breached so spectacularly by the Conservatives in December’s general election, is continuing to crumble in some areas.
In every scenario, Labour would lose control of Plymouth, Harlow in Essex, Amber Valley in Derbyshire and West Lancashire. In two scenarios Southampton would be lost and in the worst-case scenario, the bastion of Sheffield, held by Labour for most of the last 75 years, would also fall …
The document suggests that the situation could be even worse as the party’s polling hasn’t taken into account the recent Conservative poll “bounce” but it adds that it can not yet estimate the effect of a change of leadership on the election results.
But, of course, by the time the local elections are held in May everything could change because the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have disrupted ordinary life to a remarkable degree – with political consequence that, at this point, are just unknowable. One consequence is that the local elections could even be delayed.
The big event at Westminster today will be the publication of the government’s coronavirus action plan. Boris Johnson is holding a press conference to announce it this morning, and then Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will be making a statement in the Commons.
Mostly we will be covering these developments on our coronavirus outbreak live blog – my colleague Ben Quinn is writing it at the moment, but I will be contributing – but there will be some mention of developments here too. Here is Ben’s blog.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
9.30am: Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee.
Around 10.30am: Johnson is due to hold a press conference as the government publishes its coronavirus action plan.
After 12.30pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a statement to MPs about the coronavirus action plan.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary when I wrap up.
You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.
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