News in Review
‘Shared beliefs and shared responsibilities are the bedrock of leadership and prosperity’
The G7 Summit in Cornwall dominated headlines over the weekend, with leaders of the ‘Group of Seven’ (UK, US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Japan) meeting to discuss global worldwide issues, including vaccination programmes, economic recovery and climate change.
The Prime Minister hosted the 47th G7 Summit, the first meeting of global leaders in two years, which was also attended by EU representatives, including Ursula von der Leyen, and other key individuals from non-member countries, including Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
With a packed agenda to work through, after three intensive days of meetings, a communiqué was published on the conclusion of the Summit, in which the leaders collectively outlined, ‘We gathered united by the principle that brought us together originally, that shared beliefs and shared responsibilities are the bedrock of leadership and prosperity. Guided by this, our enduring ideals as free open societies and democracies, and by our commitment to multilateralism, we have agreed a shared G7 agenda for global action.’
Key pledges from the Summit include to:
End the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an international effort to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible, as fast as possible
Reinvigorate our economies by advancing recovery plans that build on the financial support put in place during the pandemic
Secure our future prosperity by championing freer, fairer trade within a reformed trading system, a more resilient global economy, and a fairer global tax system
Protect our planet by supporting a green revolution that creates jobs, cuts emissions and seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures
Strengthen our partnerships with others around the world and develop a new partnership to build back better for the world, through a step change in our approach to investment for infrastructure, including through an initiative for clean and green growth.
On Sunday, President Biden met the Queen at Windsor Castle, before progressing to Brussels for a meeting at the NATO headquarters, then rounding off his European tour with a one-to-one meeting with Vladamir Putin on 16 June in Geneva.
‘Freedom Day’ delayed
As anticipated, Boris Johnson confirmed that restrictions will not ease as initially hoped on 21 June. This will allow more people to get vaccinated, to contend with the sharp rise in infections due to the Delta variant. A review will be conducted in two weeks, with the government reserving the possibility of proceeding to step four and a full opening sooner than 19 July. Scientists have advised that the four-week delay would reduce the peak in hospital admissions by between a third and a half.
Although most current restrictions will remain in place, the 30-person limit on weddings and wakes will be removed on 21 June, but strict measures will still apply, and will vary depending on the type of venue.
Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Tony Danker, commented on the roadmap delay, “Public health comes first, so while a delay is regrettable, it’s understandable. Most businesses favour certainty and irreversibility over speed… But we must acknowledge the pain felt by businesses in hospitality, leisure and live events. At best they’re operating with reduced capacity hitting revenues, and at worst, some aren’t open at all.”
Despite the delay to the road map, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the furlough scheme will not be extended. The scheme is scheduled to run until 30 September, with employers contributing from July.
Around the UK – in Wales, rules will be reviewed on 21 June and in Northern Ireland, a review will take place on 17 June. In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said that plans to move all areas to Level Zero COVID restrictions on 28 June would “in all probability” be paused.
UK economic update
Data released last Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the UK economy grew by 2.3% in April, its fastest monthly growth since July 2020. This has been attributed to shoppers spending more as non-essential shops reopened, and people bought more cars and caravans. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the figures were “a promising sign that our economy is beginning to recover.”
On Tuesday, ONS said there were 197,000 more workers in payrolled employment in May than in April and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in the three months to April, down from 4.8% previously.
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