Boris Johnson reshuffle LIVE: PM axes Williamson and Jenrick as Raab is moved and Truss promoted

·31-min read
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Boris Johnson reshuffled his cabinet as the Prime Minister sought to build a new top team following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Johnson started the reshuffle following PMQs on Wednesday where he sacked ministers from their posts.

"The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country," a Cabinet source said.

Rumours of a reshuffle, and who might be on their way up or on their way out, have been swirling for weeks.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak sat next to the PM at Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was first to be removed from his job with Dominic Raab leaving his post as Foreign Secretary.

Mr Williamson has been much criticised over the last year for his handling of school closures and exams during the pandemic.

Read More

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Nadhim Zahawi promoted to Education Secretary after overseeing vaccine rollout

The Leader podcast: What’s the strategy behind Boris Johnson’s cabinet shake-up?

PM says new cabinet will ‘work tirelessly to unite and level up’ the country

20:11 , Robert Dex

In a tweet, Boris Johnson said: “The Cabinet I have appointed today will work tirelessly to unite and level up the whole country.

“We will build back better from the pandemic and deliver on your priorities.

“Now let’s get on with the job.”

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Rees Mogg remains in government

20:09 , Robert Dex

Jacob Rees-Mogg has left Downing Street after it was confirmed he will remain Leader of the House of Commons.

Suella Braverman told the press she was “very honoured to remain as Attorney General” as she left the building.

19:06 , Robert Dex

Downing Street also announced that Kit Malthouse will stay on as Minister of State at the Home Office and Ministry of Justice and will attend Cabinet.

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18:54 , Robert Dex

Another minister to stay in post was Baroness Evans of Bowes Park who remains Lord Privy Seal, and Leader of the House of Lords.

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Reshuffle analysis by Evening Standard Political Editor Nicholas Cecil

18:49 , Robert Dex

Analysis of the reshuffle by our political editor Nicholas Cecil says the reshuffle puts the Prime Minister “on a roll” ahead of party conference season

Boris Johnson on a roll ahead of party conference but how will it end?

18:46 , Robert Dex

Downing Street confirmed George Eustice remains Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, while Lord Frost remains Minister of State, Cabinet Office.

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18:43 , Robert Dex

Downing Street confirmed Alister Jack remains Secretary of State for Scotland.

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18:31 , Lily Waddell

Simon Hart MP remains Secretary of State for Wales.

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18:31 , Lily Waddell

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis remains in his role, No 10 said.

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18:21 , Lily Waddell

Grant Shapps MP remains Secretary of State for Transport

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No change at work and pensions as Thérèse Coffey stays in post

18:17 , Robert Dex

Downing Street confirmed that Thérèse Coffey will stay in her post as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

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Former Foreign Secretary says he is ‘delighted’ with new job despite demotion

18:10 , Robert Dex

Former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it had been “a privilege to serve” in the role but said he was “delighted” to become Justice Secretary after being demoted from the Foreign Office.

He tweeted: “I am delighted to be appointed Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister, delivering on the PM’s commitment to cut crime, reduce reoffending and protect the public.”

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Sharma stays in Climate Change Conference job

18:08 , Robert Dex

Downing Street confirmed Alok Sharma stays in his job as President of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

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Javid ‘determined’ to see country through the pandemic

18:05 , Robert Dex

Sajid Javid said he was “very pleased” to stay in post as Health Secretary.

After the confirmation that he had kept his job in Boris Johnson’s ministerial shake-up, Mr Javid tweeted: “Very pleased to see the job through at the Department of Health and Social Care – my toughest yet.

“I’m absolutely determined to get our country through the pandemic, tackle the backlogs and deliver lasting reforms to health and social care.”

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Health Secretary and Business Secretary stay in their jobs, Downing Street confirms

17:55 , Robert Dex

Number 10 confirmed that Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will both remain in their posts.

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17:44 , Robert Dex

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been appointed International Trade Secretary, Downing Street said.

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Barclay to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

17:27 , Robert Dex

Number 10 announced Stephen Barclay has been appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

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Wallace stays at Defence

17:19 , Robert Dex

Ben Wallace remains in post as Defence Secretary, No 10 said.

Nadhim Zahawi new Secretary of State for Education

17:05 , Robert Dex

Number 10 announced Nadhim Zahawi has been appointed Secretary of State for Education

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Nadine Dorries in as Culture Secretary

16:59 , Robert Dex

Number 10 confirmed Nadine Dorries has been appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport replacing Oliver Dowden.

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Oliver Dowden becomes Minister without Portfolio

16:47 , Robert Dex

Downing Street announced former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will become Minister without Portfolio.

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16:45 , Robert Dex

Number 10 confirmed Nadine Dorries is the new Culture Secretary.

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Priti Patel says it is ‘a huge privilege’ to stay at the Home Office amid reshuffle

16:41 , Robert Dex

Priti Patel has said it is “a huge privilege” to remain at the Home Office amid Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.

“A huge privilege to continue serving as Home Secretary under our Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” she tweeted.

“There is still so much more to do to deliver for the British people. Tackling illegal migration, cutting crime and continuing to keep our great country safe.”

16:19 , Tom Ambrose

Michael Gove, with his reputation for pushing through difficult reforms, moves from the Cabinet Office to be Communities and Housing Secretary.

He will also be responsible for the Union, at a time of strain with Scotland after Brexit.

16:13 , Tom Ambrose

Newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has left Number 10 after 30 minutes.

The former trade secretary did not respond to questions about her promotion amid the cabinet reshuffle as she left.

Health minister Nadine Dorries arrived minutes later.

16:09 , Tom Ambrose

The largest teaching union in the UK has said it is not sorry to see the departure of Gavin Williamson as Education Secretary.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “We can’t pretend we are sorry that Gavin Williamson has gone.

“He failed to engage with our suggestions on how to make schools safer during Covid – leading to unnecessary disruption to children and young people’s education.

“His CO2 monitors won’t arrive until very late this term, his laptops took months to reach the children who needed them and he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into providing for children going hungry during school holidays.

“The exam debacle in 2020 and 2021 caused huge stress to parents, students and teachers. England was way behind the other nation states in providing clarity to school and colleges on what and how students would be assessed.

“Many parents and students will never forgive Williamson for this.”

Reshuffle: Liz Truss becomes Foreign Secretary - BBC

16:00 , Tom Ambrose

Liz Truss has been appointed as the government’s new foreign secretary, according to BBC News.

She had previously served as International Trade Secretary.

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15:53 , Tom Ambrose

Priti Patel remains Home Secretary despite widespread speculation she would be moved, a No 10 source said.

15:49 , Tom Ambrose

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been seen entering Number 10 amid a cabinet reshuffle.

He did not respond to questions about whether he had been promoted or demoted from his role.

Reshuffle: Raab move to DoJ confirmed

15:38 , Tom Ambrose

Downing Street confirmed Dominic Raab’s demotion from foreign secretary to Justice Secretary.

“The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP as Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice,” a statement from No 10 said.

Reshuffle: Amanda Milling sacked as Conservative Party co-chair

15:37 , Tom Ambrose

Amanda Milling MP has been sacked at the Conservative Party’s co-chair.

She tweeted: “It’s been a privilege and an honour to be the Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party.

“Thank you to the voluntary party and the team at CCHQ for their support. Thank you to @BorisJohnson for this opportunity. I will continue working to deliver on our plans to level up the UK.”

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15:34 , Tom Ambrose

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been seen entering Number 10 amid a cabinet reshuffle which has so far seen three ministers retire to the back benches.

She was driven to the doorstep and immediately entered, avoiding press questions about whether she had kept her cabinet role.

15:23 , Tom Ambrose

Downing Street confirmed that Robert Buckland, Robert Jenrick and Gavin Williamson have left Government.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Robert Buckland has made a huge contribution to government as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, including making our streets safer through significant reforms to sentencing and tackling reoffending. The Prime Minister is grateful for his hard work and dedication.

“Robert Jenrick has led crucial work over the last two years, most importantly driving reforms to build more houses so home ownership becomes a reality for many more people. The Prime Minister is grateful for his drive and commitment.

“Gavin Williamson has played a key role in transforming the skills agenda as we create a high wage and high-skilled economy, providing a lifetime skills guarantee for millions across the country. The Prime Minister is grateful for his loyalty and service.”

Reshuffle: Raab switches from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary

15:21 , Tom Ambrose

Former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been confirmed as Justice Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister, the BBC reports.

He had previously faced criticism for his lack of action during the fall of Kabul last month and will replace Robert Buckland, who left the role as Justice Secretary earlier today.

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15:18 , Tom Ambrose

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been seen entering 10 Downing Street as Boris Johnson carried out a Cabinet reshuffle that has so far brought about the exit of Robert Buckland as justice secretary and Gavin Williamson as education secretary.

He did not respond to questions about whether he still held his cabinet role.

15:12 , Tom Ambrose

Labour said Gavin Williamson had left behind a legacy of exams chaos and demoralised staff following his sacking as education secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “Gavin Williamson has failed children and young people, their parents and our hardworking education staff throughout one of the most testing periods in our history.

“Two years of exams chaos and staff abandoned, unsupported and demoralised. That is Gavin Williamson’s legacy.

“The Prime Minister has allowed this to happen, keeping a failing Education Secretary in post for months and refusing to fight for children’s futures.”

15:05 , Tom Ambrose

Responding to the departure of Robert Buckland as his opposite number, Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy tweeted: “This Government has run the justice system into the ground and onto the brink of collapse.

“The Crown Court backlog has reached a record-high while the number of rape convictions are at a record-low.

“Always affable, I was able to work constructively with (Robert Buckland) during the peak of the coronavirus crisis and wish him well, but the new Justice Secretary must be capable of fixing the courts and victims crisis the Conservative government has created.”

Reshuffle: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick loses job

14:35 , Tom Ambrose

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is the latest to lose his cabinet position.

Confirming his departure on Twitter, he said: “It’s been a huge privilege to serve as Secretary of State @mhclg.

“Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved.

“I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can.”

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Reshuffle: Buckland confirms departure from cabinet

14:10 , Tom Ambrose

Robert Buckland has said it is “on to the next adventure” after being sacked as Justice Secretary during Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.

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Reshuffle: Robert Buckland removed as Justice Secretary

13:52 , Tom Ambrose

Robert Buckland is out as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Sky News reports.

The news channel’s political correspondent Kate McCann said it had been confirmed by a “senior source”.

The government has yet to make an announcement on the role.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has arrived back at No 10 to continue the reshuffle.

Reshuffle: Williamson leaves Education Secretary role

13:47 , Tom Ambrose

As speculated, Gavin Williamson is moving on from his role as Education Secretary, he has confirmed on Twitter.

It is not immediately clear if he is being moved to another role within cabinet but his words seem pretty final.

He wrote: “It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.

“This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government.”

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There were unconfirmed reports this afternoon that he have a “leaving speech” at his department shortly after the reshuffle was announced.

There has been no confirmed replacement for the Education Secretary post thus far.

Gavin Williamson (Jeremy Selwyn)
Gavin Williamson (Jeremy Selwyn)

Reshuffle: Williamson could go after interview blunder

13:41 , Tom Ambrose

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is thought to be among those losing his job.

His departure would come just days after he was strongly criticised for confusing Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and England rugby star Maro Itoje in an interview with the Evening Standard.

Reshuffle: Foreign sec meeting with PM - reports

13:38 , Tom Ambrose

Dominic Raab has “turned up” at Boris Johnson’s parliamentary office, according to Sky News.

There has been speculation about his future as Foreign Secretary after his role, or lack of a role, in the evacuation of Kabul last month.

Reshuffle: And so it begins...

13:20 , Tom Ambrose

Previous reshuffles have seen the Prime Minister use his Commons office as the venue to deliver bad news to those facing the sack or demotion.

Following Prime Minister’s Questions, Tory party co-chair Amanda Milling and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick were seen going into Boris Johnson’s parliamentary office.

Robert Jenrick (PA Wire)
Robert Jenrick (PA Wire)

Reshuffle: PM’s wife ‘not consulted’ on moves

13:12 , Tom Ambrose

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Boris Johnson “understood the importance of having a diverse Cabinet” but would not guarantee that female representation around the table would be maintained at least at its current level following the reshuffle.

Mr Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings has branded the shake-up the “Carrie reshuffle”, suggesting that Mrs Johnson’s allies would be rewarded.

But asked if the Prime Minister’s wife had been consulted on the reshuffle, the official Downing Street spokesman said: “No.”

Brace yourselves - it’s reshuffle day!

13:11 , Tom Ambrose

Boris Johnson will carry out a Cabinet reshuffle to appoint a team with a focus on “uniting and levelling up the whole country”, a No 10 source said.

“The PM will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to Build Back Better from the pandemic,” the source said.

“Yesterday the PM set out his plan for managing Covid during the autumn and winter.

“But the Government must also redouble our efforts to deliver on the people’s priorities.

“The PM will be appointing ministers this afternoon with a focus on uniting and levelling up the whole country.”

Confirmation of the reshuffle came as Mr Johnson was on his feet in the Commons taking Prime Minister’s Questions.

BBC Politics Live reported it is expected the reshuffle could go on until Thursday.

PMQs: PM promises ‘big, powerful package’ of funding for NHS

12:38 , Tom Ambrose

The Prime Minister said a “big, powerful package” of funding will help to fill staff shortages in the NHS after a Labour MP called on him to fill the gap “not in five years time, but now”.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said: “By the time my wonderful friend Linda went to the doctor, the cancer was already so advanced that she only had a few weeks to live.

“Many MPs have been through cancer and they know well that early detection saves lives, and unfortunately of course long waiting lists will make it more difficult to save lives.

“The real problem we have is we have a massive shortage in the number of thousands in the number of pathologist and radiologist to catch the cancers in the fist place, and a massive shortage of oncologist and dermatologists to do the treatment. So regardless of the money how are we going to make sure that we have got the personnel not in five years time or seven years time, but now?”

The Prime Minister replied: “The system is now coming back trying to help everybody as fast as possible to fix the backlogs and so yes, it is necessary to hire more nurses and more doctors and there are about 10,000 more nurses now, about 6,000 more doctors and he is right in what he says, totally right in what he says about radiologist and pathologist.

“But if I can just respectfully say to him that must be done by means of the big, powerful package that we put forward last week to raise the funding necessary which I believe that his party should have supported. I think it is incredible that they didn’t.”

12:23 , Tom Ambrose

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford (Con) has called on the PM to condemn animal cruelty.

The PM says: “We banned fur farming in this country for a long time and will look at what we can do working with the fur sector.”

PMQs: Tory cuts hitting key workers - SNP

12:20 , Tom Ambrose

The SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford begins by echoing Sir Keir’s tribute to Boris Johnson’s late mother, praising Emma Raducanu’s US Open win and highlighting 20 years since 9/11.

He asks the PM if he can say “how much Tory government cuts to social welfare will cost the average nurse”.

No answer from Johnson, who is now reeling off a list of Tory achievements, including a claimed increase in nurses.

Blackford replies: “The average nurse will lose £1,143 a year ... the cost of living is spiralling and people are being left with a Prime Minister who doesn’t know how much his cuts are hitting key workers.”

The PM says “we are funding the NHS across the UK, including in Scotland I’m proud to say, in record sums”.

PMQs: Debate over UC cut vote to come this afternoon

12:16 , Tom Ambrose

Sir Keir Starmer asks Boris Johnson if he will vote with Labour to prevent cuts to Universal Credit and stop “clobbering working people”.

Johnson replies by saying employment and wages are up in the UK and mocks Sir Keir for penning a 14,000 word “essay” on the matter.

He says: “Having listened to what he has to say ... his non-existent plan for social care, I can compress his 14,000 word essay to four - vote Labour, wait longer.”

PMQs: ‘Broken’ tax system to blame - Starmer

12:11 , Tom Ambrose

Sir Keir is highlighting the fact that Boris Johnson has so far failed to answer any of the questions regarding the Universal Credit cut.

He says: “We’ve had three questions and the Prime Minister hasn’t answered one of them.

“Millions of working families will be hit hard by the PM’s Universal Credit cut.

“Why would they have to work the extra nine hours to make back the £20 cut? It’s because of his broken tax system.”

He adds that working parents will not be able to work the hours to make back the cuts.

Johnson replies: “They [Labour] don’t have a plan for Universal Credit, they want to scrap it.”

PMQs: Single parents would have to work 9 extra hours to make back UC cut - Labour

12:08 , Tom Ambrose

The first question is about Universal Credit, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asking how many extra hours workers would have to work to make back the £20-a-week cut.

This follows comments from the minister Therese Coffey, where she said it was a case of people working longer to make up the cost.

The Prime Minister avoids the question by claiming Labour would “scrap” Universal Credit altogether.

Sir Keir highlights this and asks if it would be more or less than the two hours referenced by Coffey.

Boris Johnson once again refuses to answer the question and is now talking about Costa Coffee paying more and says the chain would still be closed if it were up to Labour.

Sir Keir says: “I’ll give the PM the answer to the question - it is much, much higher. A single parent would have to work more than nine hours a week on top of their full-time job to make up the difference.”

He adds that this equates to an extra day of work a week and asks how people are expected to cope. Johnson does not answer the question.

PMQs about to begin

12:02 , Tom Ambrose

PMQs is about to begin with Boris Johnson set to be grilled on Covid winter plan at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime amid rumours of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.

The PM will lock horns with Sir Keir Starmer a day after he and Sajid Javid unveiled “plan B” contingency measure should the strain on hospitals become too great.

The plan includes the possible return of mandatory face masks, Covid passports and working from home advice.

China imposes local lockdowns as COVID-19 cases surge

11:54 , Tom Ambrose

China tightened lockdowns and increased orders for mass testing in cities along its east coast Wednesday amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.

The National Health Commission on Wednesday said an additional 50 cases had been diagnosed in various parts of Fujian, most of them in the Putian region.

Since the start of the pandemic, first detected in late 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, China has imposed strict testing, lockdowns, quarantines and mask wearing requirements.

Fujian has seen at least 152 new cases in recent days, prompting stay-at-home orders and the closure of entertainment, dining and fitness venues, along with the cancellation of group activities including those for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

Long-distance bus service to other parts of the province has been suspended.

WHO presses for global approach to vaccination as UK plans booster jab programme

10:59 , Tom Ambrose

Global health leaders have urged the UK and other wealthy nations to adopt a worldwide approach to tackling coronavirus as they raised concerns about new and emerging variants.

Giving healthy adults in rich nations booster jabs and vaccinating children should not occur when there are millions of at-risk adults yet to receive a first dose, experts said.

On Tuesday, UK health leaders announced a booster programme would begin imminently for 30 million adults over 50 and health and care workers.

But Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, criticised the plan to give third vaccines to millions and first jabs to children aged 12 and over.

He told Sky News: “I actually think that we should be using the scarce amounts of vaccine in the world today to make sure that everybody at risk, wherever they are, is protected – and you’re at risk if you’re a health worker, you’re at risk if you’ve got diabetes or heart disease or immune suppression.

“So why don’t we just get this vaccine to where it’s needed?”

MPs do not need to wear masks in Commons because they are not strangers – Javid

10:24 , Tom Ambrose

Tory MPs do not need to wear masks in the Commons because they are not “strangers”, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said the Government’s advice was that people should consider wearing face coverings when they were gathered in a crowded space with people they did not normally mix with.

He said a photograph of the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, showing ministers around the table with their faces uncovered, was consistent with that advice.

“What we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people they are not normally spending time with,” he told Sky News.

Let people work from home, Government scientific adviser says

09:50 , Tom Ambrose

People should be allowed to continue to work from home rather than being forced back into offices, a scientist advising the Government has said.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which feeds into the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the number of contacts people had per week had risen to the highest number for a year, mostly down to people having to go into work.

It comes after a consensus statement from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) said there is still “the potential for another large wave of hospitalisations” as the pandemic continues.

SPI-M-O said: “There is a clear consensus that continued high levels of homeworking has played a very important role in preventing sustained epidemic growth in recent months.

“It is highly likely that a significant decrease in homeworking in the next few months would result in a rapid increase in hospital admissions.”

 (Dan Farrell/Unsplash)
(Dan Farrell/Unsplash)

09:39 , Tom Ambrose

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned people in the public eye not to spread “untruths” about the Covid vaccines.

“Anyone, whether you are a pop celebrity, a footballer or a politician, you should be very careful about your language,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“Certainly when it comes to something as lifesaving as vaccines – in this country there are 112,000 fewer deaths because of our, we estimate, because of our vaccine programme – they should be really careful about what they say and not spread untruths.”

09:24 , Tom Ambrose

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government is monitoring the pressures on the NHS on a daily basis.

He said they are keeping a “close watch” in case their Covid winter Plan B needs to be activated.

“There won’t be any single trigger. There are a number of measures we are going to keep under close watch with our friends in the NHS,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That of course includes hospitalisations, it includes the pressure on A&E, on the ambulance services, staffing levels.

“We are going to take all of those into account. On a daily basis we are working on those, reviewing that with the NHS.”

He added: “If the situation – and it is an ‘if’ – gets out of control, if for example there was a new vaccine-escape variant which no-one can predict, whether it happens or not, we will of course have to act and take new measures.”

09:09 , Tom Ambrose

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said reintroducing measures “quickly”, if needed, will mean restrictions do not need to be in place for a prolonged period.

“The situation we’re in at the moment of course is a very different position from where we were last year – of course we have the vaccines, which we have very high levels of protection across the population, but we have much higher prevalence, many more cases in the population and a lot more people in hospital than we did this time last year.

“So it’s really how those two trade off against each other as we move into the autumn that will really dictate the rate at which any of these measures might be introduced.”

He added: “At the point that there is a concern, it’s really important that any measures are introduced rapidly so that if that’s the case, we catch this rise in infections as it occurs and any measures that are introduced hopefully don’t need to be in for as long a period of time in total.”

Rising hospital admissions could trigger Plan B for tackling Covid – Javid

09:00 , Tom Ambrose

Pressures on A&E and increasing hospital admissions could trigger the Government’s Plan B for tackling Covid, the Health Secretary said as he refused to rule out another lockdown.

Sajid Javid defended not bringing in more stringent measures now, as set out in the Government’s winter plan for tackling the virus, saying vaccines, boosters and new treatments offer “a very strong” package of tools at present.

He denied the UK is in the same position as this time last year, saying the “big, big difference” is that vaccines are offering a strong line of defence against Covid-19.

He told Sky News: “We’ve also got to have plans in place, just in case, for example, there is a new variant of concern – let’s say, (it’s) highly infectious, has some kind of vaccine-escape capability – we’ve got to prepare for that and have things ready to go just in case.”

Asked if a new variant would be the trigger point for a move to Plan B, he said: “No, a dangerous new variant would be of course of huge significant concern, but there could be other issues.

“So, for example, what happens in the NHS is going to be hugely important to me, to the whole country, making sure that we don’t get to a position again where the NHS becomes unsustainable.

“I think we’re going to have to look at a number of measures… so of course that would be the level of hospitalisation, it will be the pressures on A&E, the pressures on the workforce, so we’d have to take all of these together…”

Javid: There are no ‘risk-free’ options

08:41 , Tom Ambrose

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended that Government's Covid winter plan after scientists warned of a potential new wave of hospital admissions.

Scientists advising the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned the burden on the NHS could rise "very quickly" as people returned to their offices after working from home.

But speaking on Sky News, Mr Javid said there were no "risk-free" options.

"It is right that experts are looking at what is happening and come up with their best guess of where things might go based on certain assumptions," he said.

"We have to listen to them but eventually make what we think is the right decision. There is no risk-free decision but I think what we have announced in terms of this plan, is well thought through.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
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