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UK coronavirus live: Boris Johnson says situation will be ‘bumpy’ to Christmas and perhaps beyond

Boris Johnson rejects idea UK will be locked into rolling lockdowns for years to come; PM says it is too early to say local lockdown measures are not working

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Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, has pledged not to do any deal that would allow chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef onto the supermarket shelves.

Speaking at an event at the online Conservative conference, she said this would be a question for parliament, not the Department for International Trade. She said:

Some of the campaigns that are going on at the moment seem to be campaigning against things that already illegal, and it’s already illegal to sell chlorinated chicken in this country or hormone injected beef – that’s already against the law. And we also have strong domestic protections.

So any trade deal we had that wanted to change that domestic legislation, again, that would have to go through parliament.

Andrew Marr covered quite a lot of ground in his interview with Boris Johnson this morning and, although Johnson did not have any proper capital-n News to announce, it was interesting seeing him trying to justify his handling of the Covid crisis (not always very easily) and trying to recalibrate his overall message to his party and to the electorate at large (again, not always convincingly), in the light of evidence that both groups think he is under-performing. (See 8.25am.)

Here are the main points.

If you ask me ‘do I think things can be significantly different by Christmas?’ Yes I do, and we’re working flat-out to achieve that. But be in no doubt that it is still very possible that there are bumpy, bumpy months ahead. This could be a very tough winter for all of us – we’ve got to face that fact.

But I don’t want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily because I think there is a chance but it is not certain.

On the one hand we have the imperative to save life, it is a moral imperative to save life if we possibly can. On the other hand we have to keep our economy moving and our society going. That is the balance that we are trying to strike and that’s why we have got the package of measures now that are in force both nationally and locally.

What we want people to do is behave fearlessly but with common sense, to follow the guidance – whether national or local – get the virus down but allow us as a country to continue with our priorities.

What on earth does this mean?

Boris Johnson: “We want people to behave fearlessly but with common sense”.

This kind of incomprehensible two-faced messaging is part of why we’re in such a mess. He wants to sound bullish but just confuses everyone.

“Fearless common sense”?

We are led by oxymorons

The reality is that this is a government that is facing an unprecedented crisis. I think that if people wanted me to approach it with the sort of buoyancy and elan and all the other qualities that I normally bring, I think people would think that that was totally inappropriate. And it is, because we face a pandemic in which already tens of thousands of people have died.

We haven’t actually had [from people attacking government policy] any alternative suggestions. No one has come up with any better proposals that I’m aware of.

If you talk to the scientists they’re all virtually unanimous that by the spring things will be radically different and we’ll be in a different world because that is the normal cycle of a pandemic like this. But I also think, if you look at where we are, so many things are better ..

We will find all sorts of ways, I’m absolutely sure, particularly through mass testing programmes, of changing the way that we tackle this virus.

What I hope, and I believe very strongly, is that in the course of the next weeks and months, the scientific equation will change and we will start to see progress, whether it is on vaccines or on testing, that will enable us to take a different approach. But for the moment, that is the balance that people have to adopt, that is the line we have to follow.

No, no, not in my case. This is total tittle tattle, it is drivel. It is not tittle tattle, it is balderdash and nonsense. I can tell you I’m fitter than several butchers’ dogs.”

I hope that they’ll agree to the deal that we’ve set out because it’s a very good deal for the EU. All we’re asking our friends and partners to offer is terms that they’ve already offered to Canada which is you know a long way away from here.

We’re very close to our European friends and partners, we’ve been members of the EU for 45 years, I see no reason why we shouldn’t get those sorts of terms.

Yes it’s not perfect but it has made a huge difference to our ability to see where the virus is and where it is spreading, in which groups it is most prevalent and it is helping us a huge amount.

It is not perfect, I’m not going to claim it’s perfect. Am I frustrated with it? Yes, of course I’m frustrated with it. Am I going to blame NHS Test and Trace … of course I’m not.

It unquestionably helped to protect many [jobs]. There are two million jobs at least in the hospitality sector.

It was very important to keep those jobs going. Now, if it, insofar as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus, then obviously we need to counteract that.

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