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What The Fuck Is Going On In Politics? The Weekly Rundown

Credit: afp.com - Sergio LIMA

Priti Patel’s immigration bill, a political crisis facing Bolsonaro in Brazil, the Tanzanian goverment’s refusal to release coronavirus data, and more. Here’s everything you need to know.

By Chloé Meley

National Politics:

Coronavirus update:

Stay-at-home orders are slowly being lifted across Europe, and whilst the devolved administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have started putting out plans for easing lockdown over the next few weeks, no new measures have been announced in England. Residents are still being told to go back to work but to avoid public transport, they continue to be allowed to meet one person whom they don’t live with outdoors, and there is an ongoing debate about whether schools should reopen. However, it seems that amid confusing guidance from the government and general impatience, the flouting of lockdown rules has become more widespread. 

And when it comes to the danger of ignoring restrictions, the government seems to have lost authority on the matter, as it was revealed that Dominic Cummings broke the rules to travel from London to his parents’ house in Durham. Boris Johnson’s chief aide was exhibiting coronavirus symptoms when he undertook this 260-miles trip, disregarding his own government’s advice to stay at home and avoid non essential travel. Whilst the Prime Minister’s office has defended Cummings’ actions, many are calling for his resignation in the wake of those revelations. 

What does Priti Patel’s immigration bill entail?

On Monday, MPs offered initial backing to a law that ends the UK’s participation in the EU’s free movement framework and introduces a new points-based immigration system post-Brexit. Home secretary Priti Patel explained that the goal is to open the UK’s doors to those who can contribute to a ‘high-skill’ economy, although she did not clarify who would fall within that category. The bill will go through further scrutiny over the coming weeks, as MPs work out the details of the new framework beyond general principles. Points could be awarded on the basis of English speaking abilities and professional prospects, which could be measured in terms of job offers and salary. 

The bill attracted some criticism due to the fact that the pandemic has altered the way people think about ‘unskilled’ workers. Indeed, many of those who are considered unskilled – such as supermarket employees or care workers – have been essential in the country’s fight against coronavirus. At a moment of reckoning with the inestimable contribution of frontline workers to society, the introduction of this bill was considered particularly tone deaf. 

International Politics:

What has Joe Biden said about black voters?

The prospective Democratic nominee has been criticised for his comments suggesting that black voters “ain’t black” if they vote for Donald Trump. In an interview with black radio show host Charlamagne Tha God, Biden boasted about his special relationship and long-standing ties with the African-American community, whose support will be crucial in November’s election. Biden, who has benefited from the loyalty of black voters throughout his political career, seemed to imply that he took the African-American vote for granted. His remarks made a lot of black voters uncomfortable, and led to a discussion about how being a black person in America informs one’s political leanings, and whether Biden’s instrumental view of black voters can be in the community’s interests. 

What is happening with coronavirus in Tanzania? 

Tanzanian president John Magufuli has declared victory over coronavirus in his country, and yet no data on infection and death rates has been released by the authorities in weeks. Healthcare professionals on the frontline are afraid to speak out about what the situation really looks like in hospitals, due to the climate of fear instigated by extensive restrictions on freedom of expression and repeated attacks against the press. Although it is very likely that the virus is actively circulating in the capital Dar es Salaam and other urban centers, the president is pretending the outbreak has been contained. 

As the government downplays the risk caused by the virus as well as the extent of the crisis, neighbouring countries are getting increasingly concerned. Kenya, Zambia and Uganda are indeed worried that Tanzanian citizens will spread the virus as they continue to travel on the major trade routes that exist between the countries. People travelling out of Tanzania are getting routinely tested and sent back if positive, but this is not enough to halt the spread of the virus across borders. 

What is going on in Brazil?

As Latin American is bound to become the next centre of the epidemic, with rising cases and soaring death rates, the region’s most controversial leader is in the middle of a political crisis to top off the sanitary disaster. On Saturday, Brazil’s Supreme Court released a video of right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro complaining about his inability to replace security officials with ones of his own choosing. The video comes as evidence to corroborate the allegations – made by former justice minister Sergio Moro, a popular figure in Brazil – that Bolsonaro had tried to oust senior members of the federal police in order to instal a new police chief who would provide him with police intelligence reports. 

Currently under investigation for his wrongdoings, the president has also been the target of national and global criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Two health ministers resigned in the space of a month in protest, and local government leaders are defying Bolsonaro’s authority to protect their cities. The country now has the highest number of cases worldwide, with over 330,000, and it seems the crisis is only just starting. 

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