Opinion with MP Craig Mackinlay: A truly wretched 2020

Craig Mackinlay

In these last few days before Christmas this would traditionally be a message of joy, happiness and hope. I’m sorry to say now that Kent, London and the South East have been placed in a new Tier 4 – lockdown in all but name, including severe Christmas restrictions, there is little joy to be had. We’re left with hope.

There is little point in me re-airing my objections to many of the measures introduced – the inequity of the ‘Wilkinsons Conundrum’ whereby big stores can sell everything including toys and gifts, whereas the often independent smaller shop selling just the gifts is forced to close as ‘non-essential’.

This measure alone makes little sense as it’s sure to increase the density of shoppers in the larger stores rather than maintain a lower density across a wider number. Those lucky enough to be in Tier 1 – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and Herefordshire – are now in the inscrutable position of having the freedom to visit pubs and restaurants with all the interactions with strangers that entails but are restricted in having just Christmas Day with a maximum three family bubble.

For us, in Tier 4, no such possibility for Christmas exists, hospitality in all its forms remain shut and with it more businesses scarred. This is why I called for the House of Commons to be recalled to discuss these measures calmly and coolly before their introduction. This is the right constitutional thing to do. That ship looks to have sailed.

Another crisis literally on our doorstep is the decision by French authorities to suspend lorry crossings into France for a period, citing the new variant of the virus as the reason. This seems to me a bizarre reaction given that most lorries and their drivers are EU based and the fact that lorry drivers tend to stay close to or remain in their trucks throughout.

These European lorries have onward just-in-time logistics to fulfil, be it Brussels to Berlin or Paris to Athens, and so this will have a Europe-wide effect. The use of the UK as the land-bridge for Republic of Ireland products becomes seriously stalled too. Also there is the issue of these drivers possibly being deprived of their own family time for Christmas.

All this could be solved with a cheap (£5) Lateral Flow Test before departure. Perhaps this does prove that we have become too heavily reliant on the short straits crossing and are too much subject to the whim of French officials. We may need to look more closely at alternative North Sea ports in Belgium and Holland who’d be more than keen to increase their port operations. We face the possibility of delays across our road network, particularly the M20 and for Manston to be brought into use as a temporary lorry park. Common-sense, as ever, seems in short supply.

Let’s finish with hope. It has been a truly wretched 2020. We have the roll-out of the Covid vaccine; this will accelerate massively if the UK produced Oxford/AstraZeneca product gains full approval. The cheap and quick Lateral Flow Test, now available at Ramsgate Port as a regional resting site, offers a new opportunity to bear down on the virus locally. The dark days of winter will clear: let’s look to 2021 as a new start as an independent country with all things Brexit behind us.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a significantly happier New Year. Keep well.


  1. I do agree regarding the inequality of allowing multi-purpose stores to remain fully open and #specialist stores having to close. A good example is near me: a newsagents/grocers is also selling greetings cards, yet a struggling card shop around the corner has been forced to close for much of their potentially busiest time of year, and probably won’t survive. There must be many thousands of similar examples around the country.

  2. The perfectly reasonable argument is that since someone has already journeyed out to a supermarket to buy a gross of toilet rolls and a cwt of spuds, they are not making any additional journeys so there is no more danger if they buy a Christmas card or two, too.
    I do think that folk should have to do a “main” shop of essentials (eg another 144 toilet rolls) before buying non-essential items.
    The problem with Craig’s approach to lockdown and Tiers is it’s based on politics and the populist vote. We are where we are because of the dithering of Boris. We need firm leadership, not an opportunity in the HoC for the vile 1922 Committee members to vent their neoliberal spleen.

    • The opposite argument to that of course, is that if I just want to buy a greeting card then I have to mix with all those people buying their food shopping (which indeed I was forced to do recently).

      As for politics, I couldn’t care less either way.

  3. Please Craig don’t give voice to your opinions because 99% of the time they are divisive and wrong headed.What a bunch,Gale,Mackinlay and Elphicke 2,what on earth have we done to deserve such useless populists and nay sayers.
    I know many readers of the Daily Mail + Daily Telegraph,always think that the country’s gone to the dogs, but for once I agree.No leadership at the top,a simpering,catastrophising Health Secretary, a bonkers Education Secretary, and the combination of Lord Snooty and Scrooge in Jacob Rees Mogg. I have not even mentioned the two wide-boy ministers at transport and communities.
    We are at fault, not because of any alleged bending of covid regulations,but because we voted for a slogan, rather than for a Govt.I admit the choice was poor, because Corbyn was really no choice at all, but had we restrained our urgency to jump off a cliff, we might have insisted on a Govt of national unity, rather than a Govt of disunity.

    • I would have thought Craig would have been ecstatic at 2020, the most vulnerable in society who he has consistently voted to punish since being elected have been pushed into massive levels of deprivation, tens of thousands dead. Maybe he is just annoyed it was a virus that did it & not his party as is usually the case. Or maybe he is upset because it has also meant he & his rich buddies have suffered some financial hardships & restrictions on their lives.

      • I’d like to know what an “inscrutable position” (paragraph 3 of Mr M’s offering above) means. Suggestions, anyone? (Keep it clean, folks!)

    • No political leadership
      Lies and distortion from medical ‘experts’
      Failed covid project fear
      Economy devastated

      Is it a hate crime to demand an election? [socially distanced of course to ensure the right result]

  4. Craig seems to be oblivious that he is in fact not in the opposition party and it was him and his likeminded fellow party members that wanted Johnson in charge.

    You are merely reaping what you sowed.

    And Craig has also just realised we are reliant on Europe.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  5. Nice to know Ramsgate is a “regional resting site”! Is that for all those poor tired lorry drivers – currently suffering from his government messing up Brexit?

  6. Interesting that Craig Mackinly describes 2020 as a dreadful year. Now which party was in charge? In fact, in charge since 2009?

  7. A lot of the ongoing problems are directly related to your party, Craig and you’ve given me little reason to believe that you pick anything other than the worst possible thing for everyone except you are your mates at any given time.

  8. I am not into policts but as one said there was little choice , I did vote but not for either.
    Any party would get the blame for what has happened.

    What I did note was Boris personal life, the press were banned from saying anything as to how many ex wives , children he has , fair enough but my point is if he can lie to those close to him what crap is he giving the country.

    • He used to be a journalist for the “Times”, but …
      “Scandal erupted when Johnson wrote an article on the archaeological discovery of King Edward II’s palace for the newspaper, having invented a quote for the article which he falsely attributed to the historian Colin Lucas, his godfather. After the editor Charles Wilson learned of the matter, Johnson was dismissed.” [Wikipedia]

  9. If the dynamic duo of Craig and Rog were working in the real world they would have been out on the street years ago. Not fit for purpose.

  10. Craig, why are you upset at countries in Europe taking control of their borders? Isn’t that one of the reasons you as a Brexiteer kept proclaiming that once the UK left the EU, we can control our borders? Just goes to show you spouted a load of nonsense to the public. The mess we are in and will continue to be in is down to you and your government ‘s incompetence. The UK is now on its knees. Well done.

  11. Laying siege to civilians is against international humane law, and Macron needs to be punished for that. Most of the lorry drivers are try to get hone to eu Countries, but the eu leaders care very little about their own citizens, or a trade deal with the U.K., as it is alll about retaking their power. The symptoms of the mutant strain are no worse than COVID 19, but it spreads more easily, so proof of a test should suffice. C.M. quite rightly points out that the drivers are virtually in isolation anyway. Shame Manston isn’t already operating as a freight hub, as they could be doing a roaring trade in storing and forwarding non-perishable goods.

    • The French are only exercising their rights as a sovereign nation to close their borders because of a threat to security or public policy. All EU countries have the right to do this and many if them have exercised that right throughout the pandemic. The fact that we are so dependent on the Calais/Dover route for goods (something that perhaps even Dominic Raab is now aware of) is not the fault of the French. You can find a full list of all EU countries that have closed their borders during the pandemic (presumably because they are bothered about the health of their citizens) on the EU Commission’s website. But you probably don’t want inconvenient facts to get in the way of your rant…

  12. All about retaking their power?
    Were we thrown out of Europe? No.
    Did we choose to leave? Yes.
    The EU has absolutely no duties or responsibilities to us. We’ve made our bed, now we must lie in it.
    Recall that Mabston was, for a brief period of its aviation history, a freight airport.
    It failed.

  13. Why isn’t Mackinlay at Manston, sorting out the mess there? He has been notable by his absence, has anyone seen him on the news, I haven’t! Perhaps he is keeping his head down, because he knows the whole sorry mess wasn’t thought through properly! Manston was earmarked as an emergency truck park long ago, but no one thought it necessary to provide sanitation, food, and even sleeping quarters, as some truck don’t have bunks! I suppose its because Mackinlay doesn’t live in Thanet that he isn’t here, or more probably he can’t get through the traffic jams caused by all the trucks! Duurh!

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