The Times has revealed this morning that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be based in the Far East from early next year as part of Britain’s efforts to counter an ‘increasingly assertive China.’
The vessel, which costs £3.1 billion will work closely on military exercises with the United States and Japan.
It is expected to be joined around eighteen months later by its sister vessel, HMS Prince of Wales.
This news follows a warning from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research that a trade war with China ‘would damage economic growth and lead to higher inflation and interest rates.’
Britain’s new outlook on China is also reflected by the plans to remove Huawei from our 5G telecoms network. However, The Times expects Boris Johnson to face a backlash from Tory MPs over the news that it could take another seven years to fully remove the Chinese-government owned firm from the network.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith has already described the delay as 'totally unacceptable'. And the Daily Telegraph expects the prime minister to agree to his Tory rebels’ demands for the Huawei 5G network ban to be complete by 2024.
Tom Tungenhandt MP writes in the same newspaper about the need to reduce our reliance on Chinese technology:
’Parliamentary unrest, violations of international treaties and human rights abuses, have exposed the folly of a strategic dependence on the companies controlled by Beijing to a harsh light, but the final straw has been US sanctions on Huawei. We must rethink the company’s place in our infrastructure.'
On the subject of about turns from the prime minister, The Times reports that facemasks will become compulsory in shops from July 24th, with a fine of £100 for people who do not comply.
A spokesman for No 10 said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus. The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24.”
The economic effect, if any, of this new policy will remain to be seen but, so far, it appears as though the return of customers to shops has not been as strong as the Office for National Statistics had hoped, with economic output in May rising by only 1.8 percent despite predictions of 5.5.
Any concern about this missed projection will be blown out of the water, however, if the warnings from the Academy of Sciences turn out to be accurate. The Telegraph reports this morning the suggestion from 37 scientists that Covid-19’s second wave ‘could double the death toll of the first’.