Boris Johnson attributes UK vaccine success to “greed” and “capitalism”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor
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Boris Johnson has put the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout down to greed and capitalism. “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends,” he told a group of Tory backbenchers last night. This was reportedly followed by a hasty withdrawal, as he added that “actually I regret saying it” and asked colleagues to “forget I said that”. His comments risk fuelling tensions with the EU, which is set to unveil revisions to its oversight of vaccine exports today after threatening to blockade components for the jab to the UK.

Keir Starmer is preparing to back a Whitehall takeover in Liverpool. Robert Jenrick will announce today whether government commissioners will step in to run the staunchly Labour city. The move follows a report on whether the local authority has been ensuring value for the taxpayer, commissioned after Joe Anderson was arrested a stood down as mayor. According to The Times this morning, the government is considering imposing commissioners to run the city for four years – and the Labour leadership will support the decision to do so. The leadership already faces criticism in Liverpool after the process to select the mayor was suspended and then reopened with none of the three originally shortlisted candidates invited to join. The party unveiled a new shortlist of two candidates at the start of the month.

Over in Wales, YouGov has made a worrying prediction for Labour. Polling shows that the devolved nation could be on course for the closest election in the history of devolution, and the worst ever result for Labour. YouGov has Labour winning the election with 32% of the vote, ahead of the Tories on 30% and Plaid Cymru on 23%. But this support would deliver Mark Drakeford’s party with only 22 seats in the Senedd, down from its current 29, while seeing the Conservatives secure 19 and Plaid Cymru 14. This would leave Labour looking to Plaid Cymru in order to stay in power, or open up the potential for a coalition between the nationalists and the Tories.

Momentum members begin voting in a ballot today to choose which motions the organisation will back in the Labour Party conference later this year. The left-wing group described the vote as a chance to “reassert the importance of a more transformative approach” after months in which it argued support for Labour has declined and the opposition party has been “outflanked to the left by the Tories”. John McDonnell has made the case for a proportional representation motion in a piece for LabourList ahead of his speech at a launch event this evening.

We have a packed day in parliament ahead. Prime Minister’s Questions is of course at 12pm, followed by the statement from the government on Liverpool City Council this afternoon. Boris Johnson will be in front of the liaison committee at 3.30pm. No doubt his claims on the merits of greed will come up. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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