Blaming Johnny Foreigner

The government are doing “everything we can” to “stop a second wave of coronavirus that has started to roll across Europe”, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

He was paraded across the morning broadcast media with a line that should have carried a US-style tag “I am Dominic Cummings and I approve of this message”. It’s clear that the Brexit gang in No 10 are out to blame Johnny Foreigner for a new spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the UK.

Hancock got a pretty sceptical reception from his interviewers and with good reason. Any second wave will be home grown, as a report in the Daily Telegraph makes clear.

Cambridge University scientists have warned that the reproduction 'R' rate is now close to one in every part of the country.

Four out of seven English regions have seen a rise in the rate of infections, with the south-east and south-west now thought to be above 'R1', meaning the virus is spreading exponentially.”

Challenged about the south-east and south-west figures on Sky, Hancock ducked the question. 

Dr Mike Galsworthy, founder of Scientists4EU, branded the blame Johnny Foreigner line as “straight-up false representation… the UK (or more accurately, England) is faring far worse than all other European countries.

Then came the North West and Yorkshire lock down. Tory MP Craig Whittaker gave the Cummings line a twist by claiming the "vast majority" of those breaking the rules in his Yorkshire constituency were from black and minority ethnic communities.

Tory peer Baroness Warsi called his comments "divisive nonsense" and Labour branded them as "overtly racist". But Boris Johnson, offered the chance to repudiate the comments, failed to do so.

Inconveniently for Cummings et al, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that England had the worst excess mortality in Europe in the first half of 2020.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, described the new figures as a "devastating moment" and urged the Johnson government to "learn from its mistakes".

The ONS report shows that every local authority area experienced excess mortality between the week ending April 3 and the week ending May 8, 2020. While England’s death tally was highest cumulatively, other nations saw much more pronounced peaks in localised regions.

The Brexit gang will try to hide behind the fact that countries collect stats in different ways but that could mean UK figures are even worse than they appear.

By Don Brind - Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer & Former BBC political correspondent

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