UK’s Covid and Brexit Siege

The latest news from the UK on Covid and Brexit isn’t at encouraging. While some experts deemed the initial take of a Government panel that the new variant Covid looked to be markedly more contagious than established versions to be too speculative to warrant a Tier 4 lockdown of the southeast, others are calling for a national Tier 4 lockdown.

Unfortunately, the short version of “where we are now” is I suspect more definitive answers won’t be coming quickly, as in the next day or so. From the Financial Times:

“There is no evidence at the moment that the new variant causes disease which is any different from that caused by previous variants,” said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London.

There is provisional clinical evidence that B.1.1.7 is increasing the “viral load” — the amount of virus present in patients’ upper respiratory tract — which is also a feature of another variant called 501. V2 that has evolved independently in South Africa. This may make the new variants transmit more readily between people but it is not clear how the greater viral load would affect symptoms in those who are infected.

However, later reports speculate that that the South African variant is the same as the new UK one, which seems a bit at odds with Prof. Openshaw’s view. The big reason for concern in South Africa was their new strain was hitting young people with no comorbidities harder than the older variants. Presumably the “how many new strains” matter will be settled relatively quickly.

The new variant is now out and about all over Great Britain. From the Daily Mail (before you snort, DM does a good job on science stories):

The Mail understands Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has warned the Prime Minister the number of patients in hospital with coronavirus is on course to match the April peak by New Year’s Eve – and will continue increasing in January.

Downing Street yesterday tried to play down suggestions that a third national lockdown was imminent, but [Chief Scientific Adviser] Sir Patrick [Vallance] said the new strain, which is thought to spread up to 70 per cent more easily, was already present ‘around the country’.

He added: ‘It’s localised in some places but we know there are cases everywhere, so it’s not as though we can stop this getting into other places.’ Cases of the mutated strain of Covid have already been seen in Wales and Scotland and there are fears it could be spreading within Northern Ireland.

In the meantime, the UK is cordoned off. 40 countries have halted flights. United and Delta are allowing UK nationals to fly to the US, but only if they’ve had a negative Covid test.

Worse is the situation with goods. As readers may have seen, France has imposed a 48 hour hold on all entering shipments. Macron wants lorry-drivers to have a negative Covid test before they enter France from the UK.From the Guardian:

France expects to announce a limited reopening of its borders to UK traffic, as the British government said it was drawing up plans to test all lorry drivers taking goods across the Channel for Covid.

“A solution is being worked on and will be announced during the course of the day,” a French government source said on Tuesday. “The 48-hour suspension of traffic from the UK was “always an emergency measure, to allow us to find practical solutions and to consult with our European partners.”

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, said the government was talking to the French authorities about testing all hauliers leaving Britain, as she confirmed more than 1,500 lorries were stuck in Kent on Tuesday morning.

Needless to say, figuring out how to get drivers tested (and what tests are acceptable?) and how to generate documentation that can be verified at the border is a nightmare on top of the existing pile-up at Kent, which near term is getting worse:

The EU has scheduled an emergency meeting, and it seems likely EU-wide measures will supplant country-specific responses.

It would help if readers in Great Britain could give local reports, particularly regarding signs of panic buying.

Even though more eyes are on Covid than on Brexit, Brexit isn’t going swimmingly either. On the one hand, there’s now yet another drop dead date, December 23, although the authorities concede there won’t be any sort of proper ratification by year end. The EU would presumably rely on an emergency EU Council vote and treat the agreement as provisionally approved. Richard North harrumphed about the democratic deficit:

According to the blatts, the UK negotiators have come up with a compromise deal on fishing, the likes of which are too tedious and tentative to explore, which is hailed as potentially unlocking the sticking point in the talks…the Fanboy Gazette…tells us that MPs have been told to be ready to vote on possible “Brexit” trade deal on Wednesday of next week.

If the deal pans out, MPs and peers will, it appears, be expected to pass the implementation Bill in one day, ready for the government to publish the necessary Statutory Instruments, the day afterwards, just in time for the end of the transition period.

Ironically, whatever this is, it certainly ain’t democracy. With most MPs prone to learning difficulties at the best of times, very few of them are going to have the first idea of what they are voting for…..

That means – unless the EU itself is going to be party to an episode of collective delusion (which is quite possible) – that there is no chance whatsoever of the agreement being ratified before it goes into force, which means that we should be looking at provisional application, based on a Council decision.

The fun will really start if, in an attempt to get some sort of a deal in place, the parties fudge the details and the French (and possibly others) end up refusing to ratify, leaving the agreement to fall apart at a later date – assuming we ever get that far.

What we are not going to see, it appears, is any attempt by Johnson to seek an extension to the transition period, despite strong lobbying from diverse quarters, to stop the clock.

Most of the press, to the extent it reported on Brexit, did indeed have headlines touting progress on fishing. But if you read what seems to be the best account of the state of play, from the Financial Times, it’s not clear than much has changed:

Mr [Raoul] Ruparel [a former Europe adviser to ex-prime minister Theresa May who remains well connected in Whitehall] suggested in an article for Politico that a compromise on fisheries could involve the EU’s rights in UK waters — currently worth about €650m per annum — being cut by 35 per cent over a five-year transition period…

Several people close to the talks on the EU side said their understanding was that the current UK position on quotas and the transition was close to Mr Ruparel’s proposal.

British officials denied the UK had made a new offer along the lines suggested by Mr Ruparel, saying only that the two sides were “far apart” and that the negotiations were “brutally complicated”….

Several people close to the talks on the EU side said their understanding was that the current UK position on quotas and the transition was close to Mr Ruparel’s proposal.

British officials denied the UK had made a new offer along the lines suggested by Mr Ruparel, saying only that the two sides were “far apart” and that the negotiations were “brutally complicated”.

The pink paper continues to say that the reason the optics looked better was that Johnson said he’d had an “excellent conversation” with Macron, while saying that they didn’t discuss Brexit, but presumably did make progress on lorries.

So let’s step back. A former Theresa May advisor, who is “well-connected in Whitehall” (if that means what it means it the US, all it says is people take his calls) floats a trial balloon in Politico and suddenly this is treated as a UK position? Honestly, it’s even more likely that the EU is adeptly trolling the UK, using an op-ed with an interesting idea to make the UK look as if it’s the obstacle to achieving closure. After all, this is at least a proposal from someone Tory-aligned, so it can be depicted as having the aura of a sensible UK solution.

And as for the latest procedural fudge possibilities, Tony Connelly of RTE makes clear they are mighty messy:

First, Connelly confirms something I’d said seemed likely: that the EU would implement provisional measures, just as it has planned to in the event of a crash-out, if Jan 1 comes with no deal. I don’t know what the current versions are, since a lot of time has passed since then, giving the EU more time to refine them, but in version 1.0, they applied only to certain priority sectors, chosen for the EU’s convenience and need, and were then planned to last at most 9 months. With Covid, even if the EU sticks to the idea that they are time-limited, I’d expect the maximum duration to be longer.

Second, all of the fudges, as we said yesterday, presuppose some sort of deal and are designed to extend the approval runway. The weird business confidence-defending need for positive press messaging appears to be leading quite a few people with skin in the game to be greatly underestimating the odds that the clock will roll around to Jan 1 with no agreement in principle.

Johnson has so lashed himself to the mast that it would be exceedingly difficult for him to push forward an extension-in-all-but-name. Plus the EU is so tired of the resources devoted to Brexit that they might allow the heavies like Macron to hold the line, on the assumption (as with Greece in 2015) that a few weeks of real pain will produce a big climbdown.

In any event, there’s not much time before something will wind up giving.

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  1. b

    Johnson does not sound like he wants a deal.

    From Reuters some hour ago:
    PM Johnson says on Brexit: still problems, we’ll thrive without a deal

    LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that there were still problems in Brexit trade talks and that Britain would thrive without a deal.

    “The position is unchanged: there are problems,” Johnson told reporters when asked if there would be a trade deal. “Its vital that everybody understands that the UK has got to be able to control its own laws completely and also that we’ve got to be able to control our own fisheries.”

    “WTO terms would be more than satisfactory for the UK. And we can certainly cope with any difficulties that are thrown our way. Not that we don’t want a deal but that WTO terms would be entirely satisfactory,” he said.

    1. fajensen

      He reminds me of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain: “Yes, but no but yes but no but”.

      A golden retriever would do a better job!

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I’ve no idea what is happening on the ground in the UK, but there does appear to be a strong element of delusion about Brexit. The newspapers are still talking about fishing quotas, when in reality of course the talks are dead, at least for this year, its just that nobody wants to be the first to call a halt. In many ways it would be much better if someone did so, as at least people can start preparing (or panicking, whichever you prefer). So instead we have a sort of collective delusion, where everyone is just focusing on Christmas Day, and hoping everything will somehow sort itself out. Of course, this also means people will not be as careful as they should be in keeping themselves out of contact with the virus. It all adds up to a very ominous January.

    The new strain has given the Irish government a real conundrum. They were quietly hoping to keep the Irish border open to ease tensions in the case of a no-deal Brexit, but the new variant Covid has put huge pressure on them to shut the border as much as possible. Bizarrely, DUP politicians are now claiming that most Covid is coming from the Republic, not from Britain (no, its not, as even a quick glance at the figures would show). If the new variant is as bad as they suspect, and it gets to the Republic first, as seems almost inevitable given the level of movement, then that massively complicates post Brexit planning. So Ireland could join the UK in a sort of Covid quarantine if its not careful.

    Its hard to be sure, but I think a lot of industries, certainly here in Ireland, are planning a few weeks hibernation in 2021, to minimise their exposure to the chaos. Certainly the construction industry is aware of the issues – supply chains are already very badly strained due to Covid. But of course the food industry can’t do this, and this is where the real problems will arise. My guess is that the traditional Boxing Day sales in the UK will be replaced with Boxing Day panic buying in supermarkets. This is potentially even more damaging than the actual supply line disruption.

    I just scanned a few news items this morning, and the London government seems to be as clueless as ever. Anyone who thinks they are doing anything but making things up as they go along is delusional. They are an inept government of ideologues and Johnson toadies who are utterly incapable of doing the job even in good times, let alone in the face of a double crisis. And they don’t seem to have a governmental system capable of making up for their incompetence and greed. At least the EU countries have some degree of competence at political and administrative level.

  3. Ignacio

    On new variants: If it is confirmed that both new strains produce higher virus loads as detected by qPCR sampling in the nose, this indeed doesn’t have to translate in more severe outcome as long as those higher loads are restricted to mucosal tissues in the Upper Respiratory Tract (URT). It could well be that strains adapted to better infection in these tissues (by expanded cell range, higher affinity to receptors in these tissues or other mechanisms that favour infection in the URT) may behave differently in the Lower Respiratory Tract or in the circulatory system (with different cell types) and result in outcomes that could be milder, more severe or basically indistinguishable from what has been seen so far. I think if it was significantly more severe it would have been noticed fast in hospitals. A thorough description of symptoms (cough, nasal congestion, pains) could be telling. Thus, I don’t think that an increased incidence in young cohorts in South Africa mustn’t necessarily be a concern regarding severe outcomes in these cohorts though it is concerning in regards to transmission and epidemiology. Risk factors are associated only with the pathogenesis beyond the URT. If it is shown that virus loads are really higher second in the list is to determine whether these higher loads result in higher incidence of severe pneumonia and other outcomes or not. I guess they are working restless in the UK and SouthAfrica to figure out all this. Very much as we couldn’t control the initial spread of Covid I believe that we wouldn’t be able to control the spread of new variants if it is true transmit more easily: this is much more difficult.

    Regarding the fishing quotas and the withdrawal agreement I am still puzzled that this is considered an obstacle to reach an agreement and indeed consider this is just an excuse for the lack of agreement. As I told before, the only thing that would be needed to seal a durable WA, regarding fishing, would be an agreement that sets a framework for present and future negotiations on quotas (or lack thereof). That is easy. The negotiation of fishing quotas is a more complicated yearly thing, done after the review of data from the preceding year on catches and the state of fishing stocks so it is just a calendar coincidence that quotas are being negotiated now before the 2021 fishing season starts. IMO, this mustn’t really be a part of a WA negotiation.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The claim re the SA strain was that young people were getting more severe infections than before, which doesn’t seem consistent with the notion that the new UK strain is the same as the SA strain, since that effect has not been reported.

      1. Ignacio

        I have noticed that I termed them ‘strains’ when they should be termed variants, so far. If the variants show significant differences on disease development then could be termed ‘pathotypes’ and later on even termed as strains, though 17 differences are not that many. These mutations have potential to be distinguished serologically if many accumulate in the Spike protein. Scientists are puzzled about the accumulation of so many mutations in very short time (even in a single patient according to reports). Regarding vaccine candidates this can be a push for vaccines that show stronger cellular response, such as AstraZeneca/Oxford whose efficiency might be less altered by mutations in the Spike protein. This is very speculative, but so far I have this vaccine as my personal favourite ahead of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s until more is known about how these work in a longer time span and about adverse effects that could manifest later in the trials.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry I keep acting like a writer and writers don’t like to use the same word repititively. English strongly favors “elegant variation”. So apologies for being technically imprecise and using “strain”.

          One of the analyses said the changes included the spike protein. Over my pay grade, but said they included “deletions” which the article treated as having the potential to increase contagiousness.

      2. Biologist

        Thanks for the great reporting – and the hat tip yesterday.

        The simplest way to check whether the UK and SA variants are the same is to compare their actual RNA sequences. I tried to find them but after navigating several different ‘open data’ sites without success, I gave up (and I do this sort of thing for a living, though not in viruses). This would allow to simply check whether the variants are related, i.e. share a recent ancestor and are in the same part of the SarsCoV2 ‘evolutionary tree’. For instance here ( you can navigate this evolutionary tree that is based on the steady rate of mutations accummulating across the globe, but I found it impossible to find the new UK and SA variants.

        I did find several higher level analyses which might be of interest, if you’re into that sort of thing:
        – from Public Health England:
        – from the UK multi-lab academic consortium who are continuously sequencing SarsCoV2 isolates from across the country (ca. 10k a week) which is how new variants are discovered and characterised:
        – and from the EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:
        I’m afraid I didn’t have time for a dive into them.

        As for supply chains: suburban Kent is not panic buying – spinach and lettuce are running out, and the pasta shelves are also emptier than last week. Otherwise lots of everything incl. citrus fruits. This from a large Sainsbury’s.

                1. Biologist

                  And Nextstrain is great – visualizations are beautiful and intuitive – I just had trouble getting sequence data from selected variants!

                  1. Greg

                    I’m fairly confident that’s what the GISAID ref in the tooltip for specific variants on the graphics are – but I haven’t registered with GISAID to check. If it works like other seq repositories, then that should be a link to the specific reads.

            1. Biologist


              I tried those links at the COG consortium page, but none of the metadata columns for the sequence accessions corresponded to any of the identifiers for the new UK variant mentioned in the literature.

              1. Greg

                Yes, I think there’s some serious inconsistency in naming going on. I found B.1.1.7 referenced in one place, but in others they talk about the variants on 20B (which I suspect it is part of). The African variant turned up nicely in the Nextstrain imaging, but the UK strain only showed up cleanly in the COG microreact project.

                ETA: sorry yes I found a bunch of broken links on the COG page as well, had to search what they seemed to be linking to to find the results.

                When I was trying to match up SRAs and specific individual organisms the other week for phytophthora, I found that a disappointingly high number of typos and inconsistent naming of organisms across different db’s and different db fields.
                I think if we’re trying to find only the two “new” variants of covid we’ll probably need to sort through the metadata on the SRA’s by hand, although that’s possible if you export the metadata for everything then import it into something like excel or R.

                1. Biologist

                  Yup, that’s what I’d normally do. It just doesn’t seem as easy as for other work, mainly because the very newest data is deposited first in new repositories rather than SRA or ENA straight away for which you don’t need to register.

                  But, given that we’re in the middle of this pandemic I’m actually impressed with the speed and quantity at which SarsCoV2 genomes are being sequenced.

    2. GM

      Thus, I don’t think that an increased incidence in young cohorts in South Africa mustn’t necessarily be a concern regarding severe outcomes in these cohorts though it is concerning in regards to transmission and epidemiology.

      The problem is the the fatality rate in South Africa is currently double what it was in the summer.

      There are, of course, all sorts of caveats about reporting and testing, but in general one would expect that to go down with time due to better testing and treatment, not dramatically up.

      So this piece of data, taken together with the statements of their health authorities, means that one should take very seriously the possibility that their strain is indeed more lethal .

  4. Mikel

    What’s this? The Brexit strain?
    Different strains of Covid in different countries have been reported previously throughout this ordeal.
    I remember reports of it being different form state to state here. Then, I guess, that went hush-hush.

  5. John A

    Johnson is simply incapable of not lying when he opens his mouth. The lorries outside Dover tailback many miles, there is plenty of media footage showing this. Kent county council yesterday said 500 lorries, today nearer 1,000. The police agree with these figures. In the face of all this evidence, Johnson simply states there are only 170 lorries in the queue.
    Meanwhile home secretary Patel, claimed on the radio this morning that the British government had ‘always been ahead of the curve’ when dealing with coronavirus.

    1. larry

      Johnson and his lackeys last eveing said 170, as you mention, which morphed into 174, a fake number, a little later in the eveing, when the real number from independent sources was at the time over 1000. You are right. Johnson and the members of his cabinet lie whenever they open their mouths. This is one reason, in diplo-speak, an EU spokesperson last night contended that Johnson’s messaging brought about the quarantine of the UK by the EU.

      What is staggering about Johnson’s lying is that film clips at the time showed more than 170 lorries parked on the road. Another example: Patel saying the government is ahead of the virus – agree with you.

  6. Redlife2017

    Report from North Islington:
    *No local panic so far.
    * our local Turkish Green Grocer is still well supplied. They are very good at switching suppliers (as what happened in late March/April. But presume this will change by Boxing Day.
    * spoke with one of the owners of our local French wine bar / Grocer and he said he has 8 pallets somewhere between Calais and further into France. They are well stocked on wine (will be OK into New Year).

    I agree with others that the panic will start when stuff is missing post-Christmas. And it deffo will be missing. At Chez Redlife we are hunkered down and ready to go. Another couple we are good friends with are also ready in their bunker..

    1. BarnsleyBloke

      Report from Sheffield:
      >> Not too busy and no panic in the centre though queues for bigger supermarkets – feels like they started after the announcement on Saturday (between 20 & 40 mins from my experience – folk in good spirits, if anything seem less stressed than normal for the time of the year)
      >> Reports of the toilet roll and fruit & veg aisles looking grim in the local rags (Sheffield Star – haven’t linked as it’s heavy on ads and doesn’t seem like those are the kinds of links that get posted in the comments)
      >> Most online delivery slots were booked back in late October / beginning November around here so would expect supply management was well informed and coordinated. Been about a decade since I was in retail but there are some big hubs in Yorkshire where home delivery is organised straight from the warehouse rather than in-store – used to be well streamlined for this time of year.
      >> Queues were worse here when things opened back up at the beginning of December – if rumours of a national lockdown part three come true then it doesn’t bode well for post-crimbo

  7. Matt

    Report from Mapperley, on the outskirts of Nottingham, UK. Shopping area busy, no sign of panic buying at this point, shops well stocked.


    1. Terry Flynn

      Largely the same down the road in Gedling as of yesterday morning (Monday). I help my elderly mother with shopping etc and insisted she miss her morning TV for us to go stock up on non perishables and kitchen roll – those being the things she hasn’t really bought in her Xmas shopping. I’ve been freezing meals for 1st Jan for over a month now.

      I suspect many people were hungover – number of shoppers was much lower than expected. Nothing sold out – at least, nothing sold out that became unsourceable 3 months ago (Lidl hadn’t been getting a lot of its Spanish stuff). Pharmaceuticals began to dry up 6 weeks ago. . . . Thankfully my key ones are entirely UK manufactured and sourced but I overheard at pharmacy that a key antidepressant a customer wanted to collect was unavailable across whole UK “until 21st January”. I’ve been on that one and you really really don’t want to go cold turkey. This is gonna get nasty.

      1. Terry Flynn

        PS social distancing was definitely being followed more commonly again in the supermarkets. I overheard people talking about the new variant covid – Nottingham is a hotspot and Gedling in particular. Frankly I’m surprised it got a hold here so quickly given that Mark 1 never really got us til the students were stupidly sent back to uni to start new term and we gradually got it after “their” part of the city got inundated and it spread into the hospital system, thus “jumping” from SW to NE Nottingham.

        Then again I know for a fact the local hospital (the NE part of the hospital Trust) is still struggling to deep clean and stop an out of control outbreak…..

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Much the same here in Ards, North County Down being about usual for Christmas shopping. Santa arrested on the Falls Road in Belfast for dodgy sleigh lights, so PSNI now on the naughty list & as PK mentioned it’s all the fault of the Fenians, which the DUPs core support of course already knew.

  8. divadab

    If you were the incompetent authoritarian government about to fail in key brexit negotiations, with a massive immediate supply line shitshow imminent, why not whip up fear and implement a massive societal shutdown which has the effect of keeping every citizen locked up in their houses? WHat’s not to like for the Tory incompetents? Anyone who pokes their head over the transom, meets with other people with a view to organizing, demonstrations – will be met with overbearing police response due to the “lockdown”.

    Just watch that slime Hancock in action – do you believe a word he utters?

  9. Mirdif

    The same game is being played as 2 years ago with the drones at Gatwick – non-existent drones. It’s the “Look, a squirrel” strategy. The new strain will likely be “discovered” to be not as easily transmittable as first thought and not as dangerous either.

    Chances of no trade deal remain low. There’ll be some fudge – a deal is struck at the last minute and things remain as they are or a deal that keeps things as they are with further discussion to be had in the New Year.

    Brexit will be reversed over the next decade through multiple rounds of negotiations where the UK remains out of the EU but maintains largely the same benefits. However, there will be damage to the economy until the point where things resemble being in the EU are achieved in full.

    1. fajensen

      That would be a very, very, stupid strategy should the EU go down that swampy road to oblivion. There are contingency plans in place, the EU should at this point be 100% concerned about those. Negotiations have already failed by their own internal rules. That is also a result. The EU needs to accept the reality of that result and move on.

      There is absolutely nothing to be gained for the EU by bending its rules to accommodate a UK that has lost the plot and is being run into the ground by crackpots. The mere hint of fudge will only re-energise all the crackpots into coming up with new demands, new boldfaced lies, and new ways of imagining how they are holding all of the cards.

      Multiple rounds of further Brexit negotiations will suck political and organisational energy out of the EU, that is badly needed for other, much bigger and strategic, problems like the Eurozone not being configured to support distribution of surpluses within the Eurozone.

      1. TimH

        Yes, and there’s also the ‘pour encourager les autres’ incentive to stop other countries being dickheaded too on the ‘but… we’re special’ ticket that UK waved around.

    2. Biologist

      >The new strain will likely be “discovered” to be not as easily transmittable as first thought and not as dangerous either.
      Do you have any evidence for this? Nobody is claiming that the new variant is more more dangerous. As to its higher transmissibility, I agree the evidence for this is not quite so solid yet but waiting for perfect evidence before acting during rapid growth is in my view irresponsible. Or are you saying that SAGE, PHE et all are conspiring with Johnson to hype this new variant?

      >Chances of no trade deal remain low. There’ll be some fudge
      Did you read the post, and yesterday’s? What will the fudge look like? How does it overcome the fact that EP has said it won’t approve a deal before the new year, and the runway for a ‘provisional deal’ is running out fast?

      >Brexit will be reversed over the next decade through multiple rounds of negotiations where the UK remains out of the EU but maintains largely the same benefits.
      Why would the EU ever agree to that?

  10. Boomka

    Local report from London (west side, near Kensington/Hammersmith).

    small local M&S: no queues, everything is on the shelves as usual. But to be fair, even when the other stores were thoroughly raided in the first lockdown, M&S remained well stocked, I guess because it is pricey?

    In the super-market sized Sainsbury: moderate crowds, but still no queues. Some items are gone or nearly gone, such as some produce, but mostly the usual items are all there. Toilet rolls are 80% gone but still on the shelves. For the most part stock seems fine.

    However: I tried buying 4 packs of ibuprofen as we are all out at home, and it wouldn’t let me scan more than 2 at the self checkout. So I suspect quite a few items are being rationed like that. Also confirmed by this BBC article:

    Tesco puts buying caps on several products

    1. ml1dch

      Your Ibuprofen experience isn’t availability related. You’ve been limited to two packages per transaction since 1998 as a (pretty mild) way to prevent suicide/ overdoses.

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    Not being a resident of the UK, I appreciate the perspectives of those who live there. Post from Business Insider today seems to capture the zeitgeist of this moment at the intersection of Covid and Brexit: “Wealthy Brits are fleeing the UK in private jets to avoid new lockdowns ahead of Christmas while Londoners are trapped in their city”:

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks. Now it’s pushed back yet another day….and I would bet Johnson gave on fish….to get what back? He may have worked out or been told that holding fast on fish and getting no deal would amount to burning the village to save it. Fishermen had said they couldn’t survive tariffs. Plus he really needs a good headline to distract from all the bad Covid news.

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