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Nicola Sturgeon 'exploited Covid' in her war for independence – 'What a betrayal'




Nicola Sturgeon branded a ‘power mad Covid queen’

Tom Harris, Glasgow South’s former Labour MP, accused Scotland’s First Minister of keeping restrictions in place for longer than in England – in a “relentless” effort to define her decisions against those of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He claimed Ms Sturgeon enjoys “crowing” about how “superior” her own judgement is, but research by the Financial Times and YouGov highlighted how “the extra pain” inflicted on Scots made “almost no discernible difference” to the death toll during the Delta and Omicron waves.

This was in spite of extended mask mandates, longer lockdowns and tougher social distancing measures in Scotland.

The FT analysis of data compiled by YouGov suggested Ms Sturgeon’s more cautious approach had a significant impact on public behaviour last year.

It showed this was particularly evident in the months after Mr Johnson declared July 19 coronavirus “freedom day” and lifted the legal requirements for face coverings in public places in England.

A day before Mr Johnson scrapped most of England’s Covid rules, Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “To talk of tomorrow as ‘freedom day’ (England only remember) is not sensible IMO [in my opinion] given current situation.”


Labour MP Tom Harris accuses Nicola Sturgeon of ‘politicking’. (Image: Getty)

Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering due to Covid-19, reacts during a visit to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Carlisle

Boris Johnson wearing a face covering during a visit to Carlisle. (Image: Getty)

Mr Harris slammed the reference to “England only” as “snide”, saying it spoke volumes about Ms Sturgeon’s approach to the pandemic.

His comments appeared in MailOnline, in a piece titled “Nicola Sturgeon shamelessly exploited Covid in her war for independence. Oh, the irony… after her militant curbs, the Scots fared worse than England.”

Mr Harris suggested Mr Johnson’s “insistence” on public freedom during the past year did no harm.

He added: “But perhaps that never mattered to Sturgeon. After all, the main design of her heavy-handed response — as always with the SNP — was to foment division between Scotland and England.


 Murdo Fraser MSP Scottish Conservative speaks during proceedings for the Coronavirus Extension and Expiry Bill

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser. (Image: Getty)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament. (Image: Getty)

“Instead of prioritising her nation’s ailing businesses, the only ‘Freedom’ over which Sturgeon obsessed during the pandemic was the one that would leave her and her party free to run Scotland as their eternal fiefdom.”

He described the cost of Ms Sturgeon’s strategy to Scotland’s economy as “devastating”, adding that non-Covid related healthcare has “all but collapsed”.

As evidence, Mr Harris pointed to a 2021 LSE study showing Scottish children falling behind their English peers.

He claimed: “And all this, it would seem, as a result of Sturgeon’s politicking.”

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The cost of independence for Scotland. (Image: Express)

Ms Sturgeon recently announced that the wearing of face masks in schools is to be removed at the end of February.

However, some politicians north of the border say the Scottish Government is not minded to match the swift removal of restrictions seen in England.

Mr Johnson announced last week that he intended to scrap self-isolation later this month as long as “encouraging trends” in the data continue.

This week, Northern Ireland said the requirement for people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport has been removed while Covid certificates are no longer needed to gain entry to nightclubs and large indoor unseated events.

Staff at University Hospital Monklands attend to a Covid-positive patient on the ICU ward

Staff at University Hospital Monklands attend to a Covid-positive patient on the ICU ward. (Image: Getty)

Businesses will also no longer be required to undertake coronavirus-linked risk assessments or collect track and trace details from customers.

In Wales, the use of vaccine passports as a condition of entry for indoor and outdoor events will be scrapped from Friday.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, writing in The Scotsman, described Scotland as an outlier in keeping restrictions as the rest of the UK opens up.

He claimed: “Throughout the pandemic, Scotland has seemed not to have its own Covid policies – merely England’s ratcheted up a couple of notches to suggest the First Minister cares more.”

Mr Fraser warned that the longer restrictions remain, the greater the risk of wider harms to Scotland’s businesses, health conditions and the nation’s mental health.

The SNP has been approached for comment.



'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy




Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

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Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”


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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?




After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

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Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.


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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response




US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

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“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”


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