Boris Johnson is being urged to give more COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries ahead of the G7 summit.
More than 100 cross-party MPs and peers want the prime minister to show “global leadership” and commit to a one in, one out policy when it comes to jabs.
The prime minister is set to chair a gathering of the most economically powerful countries in the world in Cornwall from 11 June.
In the run-up to the summit, the signatories have asked the UK government to donate a dose to the United Nations-backed Covax scheme for every dose bought for use in Britain.
The scheme is providing vaccines to low and middle-income countries.
It comes as the World Health Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group and the World Trade Organisation called for richer countries to give more COVID vaccines to poorer nations in a joint plea across a number of international newspapers.
In a letter, the signatories said there is a “clear moral imperative to act to close the global vaccine divide”, as well as a “rational case… to stop the threat of variants emerging abroad and taking root in the UK”.
It has been backed by senior Tory MPs Peter Bottomley and Dr Dan Poulter – a former health minister who has worked on the frontline during the pandemic.
Others putting their name to the letter include former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Margaret Thatcher’s former health minister Baroness Hooper and ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Campbell.
“The longer we wait to act, the more likely it is that dangerous variants could emerge that can evade the protections offered by current vaccines,” the letter said, which was co-ordinated by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus.
It added: “The UK has an opportunity to use the G7 summit to show leadership on this critical issue and demonstrate that ‘global Britain’ is more than just a slogan.
“While the UK has rightly committed funding to Covax, we remain a net importer of Covid-19 vaccines.
“The APPG on coronavirus, therefore, recommends that the UK must immediately adopt a policy of vaccine matching, in which for each dose of the vaccine imported, one dose is donated to Covax.
“This will help meet the urgent demand for vaccines in low and middle-income countries around the world.
“The UK mustn’t miss the opportunity provided by the G7 summit to lead the way in promoting more equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines.”
The 116 peers and MPs believe the UK should aim to become a “net vaccine exporter” once it has boosted its manufacturing capacity.
The decision to write to the prime minister came about after Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, warned the group that “many millions could die between now and September” if vaccines are not more widely distributed across the globe.
Germany, France and Italy are among European countries that have committed to donating at least 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to middle and low-income countries before the end of the year, the group said.
They highlighted that the UK government has so far only committed to donating surplus shots in future to Covax, they said.
Matt Hancock has previously said that the UK “has probably done more than any other nation to help vaccinate the world’s poorest” through its support for the Oxford vaccine, which accounted for almost a third of the global number of coronavirus jabs administered as of 19 May.
He said the government had also donated more than £500m to Covax, which has delivered vaccines to 120 countries and territories.
In November, the UK government decided to cut spending on its annual foreign aid commitment from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income.
Group try to steal Banksy mural from wall in Ukrainian town
A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural from a battle-scarred wall in Ukraine, the governor of the region has said.
They managed to slice off a section of board and plaster bearing the image of a woman in a gas mask and dressing gown holding a fire extinguisher.
But they were spotted at the scene in the city of Hostomel, near Kyiv, and the mural was retrieved, Oleksiy Kuleba said in a statement.
He added that the image was still intact and the police were protecting it.
“These images are, after all, symbols of our struggle against the enemy… we’ll do everything to preserve these works of street art as a symbol of our victory,” he said.
Police shared images of the yellow wall in Hostomel, with had a large patch cut all the way back to the brickwork.
They said a number of people were arrested at the scene.
One shows a female gymnast balancing on a damaged building, while another depicts a man resembling Russian President Vladimir Putin being flipped during a judo match with a little boy, and another shows two children using a metal tank trap as a seesaw.
Banksy’s work can sell for millions of pounds on the art market.
Sajid Javid stepping down at next election
Sajid Javid has announced he will not stand in the next general election, saying being an MP had been “the privilege of [his] life”.
The former chancellor, who has held a number of senior roles in government alongside his Bromsgrove seat, is the most high-profile Tory MP to decide to step down at the next national vote, expected in 2024.
It comes amid reports the Conservative Party has told its MPs to decide about their future by Monday, with a number of younger members already confirming their exits.
He has also made the announcement on the day Labour secured an historic majority in the City of Chester by-election, with stark warnings that such a swing nationally could cause the Tories big problems the next time the country goes to the polls.
In a letter to his party chairman posted on Twitter, Mr Javid said it was “a decision I have wrestled with for some time”, but one that had been “accelerated” due to the party deadline.
“Being the local MP and serving in government has been the privilege of my life and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve,” he said.
“I always sought to make decisions in the national interest, and in line with my values, and I can only hope my best was sufficient.”
He pledged the decision would not impact his work as an MP during his remaining time in office, adding: “I will of course continue to support my friend the prime minister and the people of Bromsgrove in any way I can.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “sad to see my good friend… stepping back from politics”, tweeting: “He’s been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in government and on the backbenches – particularly for the people of Bromsgrove.”
Ending with a Star Wars quote, the PM added: “May the Force be with you, Saj.”
Mr Javid first came into parliament in 2010 at the start of the coalition government, and got his first job on the front bench in 2012 as economic secretary to the Treasury.
Over the past 12 years he has held some of the highest offices of state, including home secretary and chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr Javid quit the latter role in 2020 – less than three months into the job – after the then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior adviser Dominic Cummings insisted he sack his aides and replace them with ones chosen by Downing Street.
He returned to Mr Johnson’s top team as health secretary in June 2021 after Matt Hancock resigned after being caught on CCTV kissing one of his aides and breaking his own COVID guidance.
But he was the first minister to resign in the wave of exits that led to Mr Johnson’s downfall over the summer, followed minutes later by then-Chancellor and now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Mr Javid twice ran for the leadership of his party, but lost out to Mr Johnson and his successor, Liz Truss.
Blitz spirit in Kyiv as heat, light and water supplies are knocked out for days
The host of a conference in Kyiv alerted guests that air raid sirens were sounding, before assuring them they were safe and the event would carry on as planned.
It is a small example of how people across Ukraine are learning to cope with the unpredictability of war while carrying on with their lives in a test of endurance that has been likened – in its spirit – to what the UK lived through during the Blitz in the Second World War.
Stepping onto the stage at the Kyiv Security Forum, amid the air raid warning, was Vitali Klitschko, the city’s major.
He is overseeing support for residents at a crucial moment following several waves of Russian missile strikes against energy infrastructure since early October.
Last week, they knocked out the lights, heat and water supplies for much of the capital for up to two days – a brutal taste of how bad conditions could become, if more attacks cause even graver damage as winter bites.
Mr Klitschko said he wanted to speak bluntly about the risk, telling his audience that the people of Kyiv need to be prepared for various scenarios “even the worse one” – with power out for a prolonged period of time.
He offered this advice: “Stock up on water, non-perishable food and warm clothes. Also anyone with friends or relatives who live in rural areas away from the city should talk with them and be prepared to move out there if necessary, should conditions worsen.”
Asked afterwards by Sky News whether he was worried that Russia could freeze residents in the city to death with its missile strikes, he said the priority was to be prepared.
“The main goal of Russians, we know, they tried to destroy our infrastructure, critical infrastructure, they want to freeze us. But we have to be prepared for any case, also for [a] worst case scenario,” he said, speaking in English.
“That is why everyone in the city government has to know what we have to do in a critical situation, how we can help the people because it will be [a] catastrophe if the Russians totally destroyed our infrastructure. It will be [a] humanitarian catastrophe.”
At the same time, he underlined the determination of residents to endure: “It’s our cities, our homes. We don’t want to leave. The Russians try to bring depression on our citizens… I talked to our citizens. They are very angry and ready to stay and ready to fight.”
As for whether what Kyiv residents were having to endure could be likened to the Blitz spirit, the mayor said: “It is [a] pretty similar situation [to the] Second World War in London.”
That spirit of defiance was on display at a local food market, where shoppers bustled from stall to stall almost as normal – despite the knowledge Russia could launch a new missile strike at any moment.
Halyna and Georgii Bohun said they have not left Kyiv since the first day of the full-scale invasion on 24 February.
They likened their country’s experience – in terms of carrying on despite the dangers – to what people in the UK felt during the Blitz.
“We were thinking: if they survived after such bombardment, we will also survive,” Halyna, 60, a pharmacy worker, said.
Her husband even compared Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Winston Churchill.
“Sometimes they even use similar words, even their minds are similar,” said Georgii, 73, a retired energy industry worker.
The pair said they had enjoyed a lull in missile strikes over the past week, but were ready for worse to come.
“We are not afraid,” said Halyna. “What will be will be. But we are for freedom and only for our country’s victory.”
Sports1 year ago
Team Europe easily wins 4th straight Laver Cup
Politics1 year ago
Yvette Cooper promoted and Lisa Nandy to shadow Gove on levelling up brief in Labour reshuffle
Politics1 year ago
Have the last few wobbly weeks seen a turning point for Johnson as PM?
Business2 months ago
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng insists government ‘protecting people across UK’ with mini-budget announcement
Politics1 year ago
Govt minister says she ‘doesn’t believe’ Stanley Johnson inappropriately touched MP
Environment1 year ago
Sprinting Into An Integrated Cleantech Future
Politics1 year ago
‘It’s going to be a great Christmas’: Defiant Javid defends not imposing stricter restrictions to combat new variant
Business2 months ago
Liz Truss’s ‘favourite’ economist says chancellor ‘took his eye off ball’ and ‘overstepped the mark’ with mini-budget