politics

Boris Johnson promises Covid freedom as ‘the sun rises on 2021’ – but warns of ‘hard struggle’ first


BORIS Johnson tonight promised freedom from Covid in 2021 – but warned there would be a “hard struggle” to get there.

The PM vowed that “as the sun rises on 2021” tomorrow morning the “beacon of hope” of the new Oxford vaccine would carry the nation through.

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Boris speaking to the nation ahead of the New Year

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Boris speaking to the nation ahead of the New YearCredit: Crown Copyright
Revellers in Finland get ready to celebrate 2021

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Revellers in Finland get ready to celebrate 2021Credit: EPA

Speaking just hours before New Year – and Brexit – the PM’s sombre but touching message to the nation looked back on a difficult year tackling the pandemic.

He promised that this would be the year Britain would finally be able to chuck away masks, bin social distancing and hug loved ones again – as soon as the vaccine was rolled out.

The PM told an anxious nation with three quarters now in Tier 4: “I believe 2021 is above all, the year when we will eventually do those everyday things that now seem lost in the past.

“Bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia, going to the pub, concerts, theatres, restaurants, or simply holding hands with our loved ones in the normal way.”

Though Britain is “still a way off” with some “tough weeks and months ahead”, we could now see a clear way through to the end.

We are still a way off from that, and there are tough weeks and months ahead, he warned.

But he added: “We can see that illuminated sign that marks the end of the journey, and even more important, we can see with growing clarity how we are going to get there.

“And that is what gives me such confidence about 2021.”

He stressed that Brexit would deliver an “amazing moment for our country”, giving us new-found freedoms to step out onto the world stage, too.

He vowed: “We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.

“2021 is the year we can do it.”

Police officers stand guard as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the new year in Wuhan, China

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Police officers stand guard as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the new year in Wuhan, ChinaCredit: REUTERS
Meanwhile, Soho in London was deserted tonight

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Meanwhile, Soho in London was deserted tonightCredit: w8media
New Zealanders were able to attend New Year concerts

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New Zealanders were able to attend New Year concerts Credit: AP:Associated Press

Admitting that most people would “be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020”, he went on to remind the nation “that this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community.”

The PM said: “It was a year in which we banged saucepans to celebrate the courage and self-sacrifice of our NHS staff and care home workers…

“A year in which working people pulled the stops out to keep the country moving in the biggest crisis we have faced for generations – shopworkers, transport staff, pharmacists, emergency services, everyone, you name it.

“We saw a renewed spirit of volunteering, as people delivered food to the elderly and vulnerable.

“And time after time as it became necessary to fight new waves of the virus, we saw people unite in their determination, our determination, to protect the NHS and to save lives.”

PM’s New Year message in full

Well folks we are coming to the end of 2020.

The year in which the Government was forced to tell people how to live their lives, how long to wash their hands, how many households could meet together.

And a year in which we lost too many loved ones before their time.

So I can imagine that there will be plenty of people who will be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020.

But just before we do, I want to remind you that this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community.

It was a year in which we banged saucepans to celebrate the courage and self-sacrifice of our NHS staff and care home workers.

A year in which working people pulled the stops out to keep the country moving in the biggest crisis we have faced for generations – shopworkers, transport staff, pharmacists, emergency services, everyone, you name it.

We saw a renewed spirit of volunteering, as people delivered food to the elderly and vulnerable.

And time after time as it became necessary to fight new waves of the virus, we saw people unite in their determination, our determination, to protect the NHS and to save lives.

Putting their lives, your lives, on hold.

Buying precious time for medicine to provide the answers, and it has.

In 2020 we have seen British scientists not only produce the world’s first effective treatment of the disease, but just in the last few days a beacon of hope has been lit in the laboratories of Oxford.

A new room temperature vaccine that can be produced cheaply and at scale,

and that offers literally a new lease of life to people in this country and around the world.

And with every jab that goes into the arm of every elderly or vulnerable person, we are changing the odds, in favour of humanity and against Covid.

And we know that we have a hard struggle still ahead of us for weeks and months, because we face a new variant of the disease that requires a new vigilance.

But as the sun rises tomorrow on 2021 we have the certainty of those vaccines.

Pioneered in a UK that is also free to do things differently, and if necessary better, than our friends in the EU.

Free to do trade deals around the world.

And free to turbocharge our ambition to be a science superpower.

From biosciences to artificial intelligence,

and with our world-leading battery and wind technology we will work with partners around the world,

not just to tackle climate change but to create the millions of high skilled jobs this country will need not just this year – 2021 – as we bounce back from Covid, but in the years to come.

This is an amazing moment for this country.

We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.

And I think it will be the overwhelming instinct of the people of this country to come together as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland working together to express our values around the world.

Leading both the G7 and the COP 26 climate change summit in Glasgow,

And an open, generous, outward-looking, internationalist and free trading global Britain, that campaigns for 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world.

2021 is the year we can do it,

and I believe 2021 is above all, the year when we will eventually do those everyday things that now seem lost in the past.

Bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia, going to the pub, concerts, theatres, restaurants, or simply holding hands with our loved ones in the normal way.

We are still a way off from that, there are tough weeks and months ahead.

But we can see that illuminated sign that marks the end of the journey, and even more important, we can see with growing clarity how we are going to get there.

And that is what gives me such confidence about 2021.

 Happy New Year!

Earlier today police told people not to hold parties and gather with others – and they would be on hand to fine people up to £10,000.

Everyone across the country has been ordered to act as if they have coronavirus and to stay within their own households this New Year.

Fireworks displays including London’s annual celebrations, have been cancelled.

Pubs and restaurants are shut across the nation as 20million people went into Tier 4 this morning – the only ones still open are on the Isles of Scilly.

The annual fireworks display in London won't take place tonight
The annual fireworks display in London won’t take place tonight

In Tier 3 people can meet with up to six others outdoors, and Tier 4 residents can meet one other person – but ministers are urging people not to do so tonight.

Cops have warned the public they will be fining people breaking the rules by meeting up with others – starting with £100 and rising to £10,000 for people having parties.

And they will be focusing their patrols in London on areas with the highest rates of Covid infections too, they said.

The Sun revealed today how a string of illegal New Year’s Eve raves are being secretly planned across Tier 4 London.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the events which could send Covid spreading even faster through the capital. 

Organisers are not being deterred by the prospect of £10,000 fines and are planning events similar to those in the summer when a string of illegal raves sent the r-rate soaring.

It comes after illegal raves and warehouse parties were blamed on driving a surge in coronavirus – leading to further lockdown misery.

Three quarters of England is now in tier four, with some 44 million people under the toughest restrictions and household mixing banned.

Illegal New Year's Eve raves are being planned across London
Illegal New Year’s Eve raves are being planned across London
Boris hails new found freedom on Brexit Day as Britain finally forges its path alone





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