Again, I am writing this without knowing how events will have moved on before you read it.
We are currently in an England-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus but I very much hope that by the time you read this we are out of this 2nd lockdown and back to some degree of normality even, sadly, if that means into tiered restrictions.
I did not support the lockdown in the Parliamentary vote. In my view, it is wrong to cripple the entire nation’s economy when the virus was not out of control in many areas. Also, we had only fairly recently moved into the tiered restrictions and had not had time to see if they were working.
I really feel for the many businesses who are convinced that they can find a way to operate in a covid-safe way and are not being given the chance to do so. I understand blanket bans are easier to enforce, but they are particularly hard for so many people.
It is clear that this Christmas will not be a ‘normal’ Christmas, even with the hope of a vaccine or vaccines. Let’s hope that we can celebrate to a degree and I am pleased to see some people are already getting into the Christmas spirit. Many of us have met neighbours we never knew properly before and I hope that, assuming some restrictions are still in place, we can all make sure that none of our neighbours are lonely or facing Christmas by themselves.
The end of the year will also bring the end of the negotiations on a trade deal with Europe. I hope that a deal can be done. We have had complete alignment with the EU for forty years, so there is no reason we can’t get a deal similar to that of Canada. I fully expect negotiations to go right up to the wire on this – I know from my previous Ministerial experience; it is always the way.
The new year also brings a new President in the United States (at least it seems likely at time of writing). I very much welcome President-elect Biden’s commitment to re-joining the rest of the world on climate change commitments. The climate crisis is the single biggest threat facing the planet and we need to work together. Having a large and powerful country like the US fully on board is vital – especially with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place next year.
A lot to think about, but I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, roll on 2021!