- Theresa May has been humiliated by EU leaders who unanimously rejected her plans for Brexit.
- European Council President Donald Tusk openly mocked her on social media.
- Conservative MPs from all sides are now rounding on May in order to force her to drop her so-called Chequers plan.
- The row comes ahead of an already difficult Conservative Party conference for the prime minister.
LONDON — Theresa May is in the midst of a serious crisis for her leadership after European leaders roundly demolished the Chequers plan she had spent the entire summer selling as the only credible plan for Brexit.
Donald Tusk, European Council President, on Thursday said May’s idea that the UK could stay in the single market for goods after Brexit “will not work,” and had been rejected by leaders of all 27 EU member states.
He later openly mocked her on Instagram, with a satirical post referring to the EU’s rejection of her plans to “cherry pick” parts of the European single market. He was joined by French president Emmanuel Macron, who dismissed the entire Brexit project as being pursued by “liars”.
It was a humiliating day for May, who had travelled to Salzburg, Austria quietly confident of receiving encouraging feedback on her Chequers proposals, after recent reports suggested Brussels was ready to soften its Brexit position.
However, what she received from her European counterparts was even more brutal than even the most pessimistic observers had expected, as reflected in this morning’s front pages:
And it’s not just the British press who are circling around May.
MPs from all sides of the Brexit divide are ganging up on the embattled prime minister and her corpse Brexit plan.
Cabinet minister Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, and Esther McVey all reportedly want May to forget Chequers and focus on a Canada-style free trade deal, while former minister Philip Lee last night called for the Article 50 negotiation process to be extended. His Remain-supporting Conservative colleague Anna Soubry compared May’s Brexit plan to a dead parrot, while Iain Duncan Smith, a leading pro-Brexit MP, said that Chequers “clearly isn’t going to fly.” Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesperson, urged May to ditch her “her reckless red lines.”
So where did it all go wrong?
It’s no surprise that the EU rejected May’s Chequers plan. Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, said on numerous occasions this summer that its core proposals — the UK effectively stays in the single market for goods and collects EU tariffs on Brussel’s behalf — were never going to be accepted.
A senior EU source told Business Insider as early as June that May’s suggestions would not fly.
But 10 Downing Street was braced for a polite “not quite,” accompanied by a “but we can make it work.” It was not prepared for such a bruising slap down. It certainly was not prepared for French President Emmanuel Macron to describe Brexit-supporting politicians as “liars” in a pretty extraordinary press conference.
Clearly, May’s advisors — who she relies upon heavily for intelligence and guidance — had misread the mood.
Plus, according to multiple reports, May really did not help her cause when she sat down for dinner with European leaders.
May reportedly decided to read out an opinion piece she wrote for German newspaper Die Welt this week, in which she described the EU’s Brexit proposals as unacceptable and not credible. That didn’t go down well.
“She began to read out the article,” a diplomat told The Times. “The article they had all already read. That is not the way to command a tired group of leaders who are all a bit sick of each other.”
The prime minister also opted to flat out reject the EU’s updated proposals on how to deal with the thorny issue of the Irish border, which also didn’t go down well with leaders around the table.
May also reportedly hadn’t been helped by a BI story on Thursday that revealed Liam Fox, her trade secretary, was quietly plotting to use controversial government powers to scrap EU food standards in preparation for a trade deal with the US.
Macron and other European leaders raised the article over the dinner, according to The Times and other reports.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.