Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other heroes in the battle against coronavirus will be recognised in a ‘bumper’ honours list to be published next month.
People who have made outstanding contributions in the UK’s response to the virus will be rewarded in a special Queen’s Birthday Honours List on October 10.
Boris Johnson announced earlier this year that the Birthday Honours, normally released in June, would be put back to allow time to say thank you for the work of those on the frontline against the pandemic.
People who have made outstanding contributions in the UK’s response to the virus will be rewarded in a special Queen’s Birthday Honours List on October 10. Pictured: Doctors, nurses and NHS staff clap outside the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent
Downing Street said yesterday that following approval from the Queen, the Covid heroes would be honoured next month in a ‘bumper’ honours list which will also include recipients chosen before the pandemic for a ‘broad range’ of achievements.
As the list would be the first to include Covid-19 nominations during the ongoing pandemic, it will prioritise frontline and community heroes, No 10 said.
They added that these recipients – like centenarian Captain Sir Tom Moore who has already been knighted for his inspiring fundraising – would be ‘outstanding examples’ of contributions still being made right across the UK.
Downing Street said yesterday that following approval from the Queen, the Covid heroes would be honoured next month in a ‘bumper’ honours list
The Prime Minister said: ‘As we all redouble our efforts to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives this winter, I am pleased that we have an opportunity to recognise those who have given so much to this country already.
‘The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest health challenge in our lifetime.
‘We all have to play our part, but the dedication, courage and compassion seen from these recipients, be it responding on the frontline or out in their communities providing support to the most vulnerable, is an inspiration to us all.
‘We owe them a debt of gratitude and the 2020 Queen’s Birthday honours will be the first of many occasions where we can thank them as a nation.’
In The Mail on Sunday last week, former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Lord Ashcroft suggested that NHS staff generally should be honoured with a ‘collective award’ of the George Cross for their Covid heroics, just as the island of Malta was durig the Second World War for resisting Nazi aggression.
They added that these recipients – like centenarian Captain Sir Tom Moore who has already been knighted for his inspiring fundraising – would be ‘outstanding examples’ of contributions still being made right across the UK
It comes at a time when Tory MPs – and even Boris Johnson’s own Chancellor – are in revolt over the economic devastation caused by Covid laws, as mutterings grow louder about the state of the Prime Minister’s mental, physical and financial health.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, has led the opposition to Ministers ‘ruling by decree’ over Covid regulations, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak is making increasingly muscular objections from within the Cabinet to the restrictions.
In the run-up to his decision last week to impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, Mr Johnson was forced to mediate between Mr Sunak, who fears the restrictions are causing irreparable damage to the economy, and the pro-lockdown lobby led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.
At a Covid ‘quad’ meeting on Friday, September 18 – Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is the other member – Mr Sunak effectively blocked Mr Johnson when he proposed a two-week ‘circuit-breaking’ lockdown.
While No 10 and No 11 both deny the Chancellor implied that the issue was a ‘resignation matter’, his opposition was sufficient to force, at a subsequent meeting last Sunday, the idea of a 10pm curfew as a compromise measure.
When the issue was put to the full Cabinet on Tuesday, resistance flared again when Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested that it would be safer to taper the curfew with last orders at 10pm, rather than force everyone on to the streets at the same time.
But Mr Gove insisted that there should be a strict 10pm ‘guillotine’.
Tory MPs are in revolt over the economic devastation caused by Covid laws, as mutterings grow louder about the state of the Prime Minister’s mental, physical and financial health
Complicating Mr Johnson’s decisions are the different tribes of increasingly fearless Tory backbenchers, who – despite being unable to bitch and plot in now-shuttered Commons bars – are using private messaging sites to share their frustrations.
One tribe, which calls itself the ‘Common Sense’ group, has held meetings with Chief Whip Mark Spencer to express anger at the ‘control freakery’ exerted over the Prime Minister by scientific advisers such as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
The 50-strong membership, which includes former Transport Minister Sir John Hayes and former Chancellor Lord Lamont, told No 10 that it was being too ‘passive and reactive’ in the crisis.
As one former chief whip says: ‘My advice to Boris and No 10 is to treat the views of the chairman of the 1922 Committee with at least the same level of respect as they accord to those of any scientist, medic or special adviser on this matter. They need to reverse-ferret as soon as possible.’
The Common Sense group have also complained about the lack of legislation to tackle the problem of Channel migrants, and urged Ministers to be more ‘anti-woke’ on issues such as the ban on Rule, Britannia! at the Last Night of the Proms and ‘unconscious bias training’. Some Tory MPs fear that the combination of political and personal problems could even lead to Mr Johnson quitting before the next election.
As one MP, who was alarmed by the pictures of Ms Symonds holidaying alone, says: ‘Would even Churchill have been able to cope without Clementine?’
Some MPs also make unsubstantiated claims that Ms Symonds, an environmental campaigner, ‘interferes’ in the running of the country by marching into ministerial meetings to thrust Wilfred into his arms and being ‘more interested in badgers than Brexit’.
But her friends paint a picture of a young woman adapting to life in an intense public gaze, who needs to escape the pressures of No 10 by relaxing with trusted friends.
She was joined on her Italian holiday by feminist campaigner Nimco Ali, who has been at her side throughout her time in Downing Street, and Aline Nassif, a former colleague from Ms Symonds’ time working as a media adviser to John Whittingdale when he was Culture Secretary.
Ms Nassif is now the global head of communications for Bechtel, the American construction giant responsible for UK infrastructure projects such as Crossrail. One friend said: ‘All of these whispering campaigns are just plain nasty. Carrie is a young woman and a relatively new mum. It seems to all be being done to upset Carrie, which in turn upsets Boris. It’s baffling that anyone would do this to her.’
They argue that becoming ‘First Lady’ has been a shock to her. The friend added: ‘She might have been involved in politics for some time but finding yourself in the limelight isn’t easy for anyone.
‘This time two years ago nobody knew who she was. Being caught taking her holiday is something Carrie took on the chin but there is a certain mystery surrounding how she and her friends were found.
‘She clearly had no idea that there were any members of the paparazzi around. Women tend to do their hair if they know they will be seen.’
After arriving home from Lake Como last Thursday, the couple spent Friday together in their No 10 flat, and were planning to spend this weekend together with Wilfred and dog Dilyn.
The friend concluded: ‘She and Boris are very happy together. The only time they’re not really together is when he is off working as the Prime Minister.’