It’s been a busy week in world news, with the usual 2020 spiel of Coronavirus updates being punctuated with some important stories from across the globe. In this blog post, we’ll discuss three of the top stories from the past few days, and what they could mean for the UK and for UK immigration.
Bill passes to end free movement
Yesterday, Priti Patel took to Twitter to announce that the much discussed Immigration Bill which will end free movement on 31st December has now passed through parliament. The Bill has been highly discussed over recent months, but it has now passed the final challenge and we will see a change in regulations from 1st January 2021.
The tagline for the bill suggests that “people can come here based on their skills, not where they’re from”. It is the introduction of the new points based immigration system which we have covered in many blogs this year. The new rules mean that individuals who want to move to the UK will have to meet a specific set of requirements, each of these having its own points attached to it. People will need to be able to prove that they have a certain number of points before they can apply to live and work in the UK. Most notably, this system will treat EU and non-EU applicants the same.
There has been much outrage over the new immigration bill, especially yesterday once it was officially announced that the bill had passed. Not only does the bill stop others from freely coming to the UK if they are lower skilled workers, it also may have an impact on UK citizens who want the freedom to work or travel freely in the 27 countries throughout Europe which they previously had access to.
Joe Biden named president-elect, as Trump refuses to concede
In the US, the presidential election race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has been ongoing for the past week. Due to the sheer number of postal votes sent this year, the results of the 2020 election took days to call, with both candidates pulling ahead in different battleground states, and only a handful of votes between them. Earlier in the week, we wrote about what could happen for the UK if a Biden or Trump presidency was announced. Now, we don’t have to imagine.
As postal votes are often counted last in many states, and Trump spent much of his campaign denouncing mail-in ballots, it is no wonder that as postal votes began to be counted, Biden was handed an overwhelming majority. Enough, in fact, to get him over the 270 electoral vote line and see him named as president-elect. Even now, some states have not finished counting all of their votes, however there is nothing else that Trump can do. He simply doesn’t have enough votes to win.
In his usual manner, Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden, instead, taking to Twitter to vent his anger and throw unsupported claims that the election was rigged and fraudulent activity was involved. The Trump campaign have already begun suing many states were Trump did not like the results, and his working line is that he “did win” the election. Many news outlets and social media sites have been quick to remind the public that election fraud is very rare, and Trump’s claims are so far completely unfounded.
In January, Joe Biden will take his position as President of the United States, assisted by Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris. This in itself will be a ground-breaking act, with Harris being the first woman, first South-Asian American and first Black person to be elected as Vice President of America.
Pfizer announce Coronavirus vaccine which could prevent 90% of cases
Yesterday, news was released that pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech have been trialling a new COVID-19 vaccine. Early data suggests that the vaccine is 90% effective in stopping people from developing coronavirus symptoms. So far, the vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people without any safety concerns raised.
The first vaccine of its kind to show this much promise, the RNA vaccine is now set to be put forward for emergency approval, with many countries, the UK included, already ordering millions of doses. If the vaccine passes the rest of its test phases, it will be approved for use in people, and will be the first RNA vaccine which is suitable for use on humans. The vaccine would be given to people in two doses through injection, and would prompt the bodies’ immune system to produce antibodies which would destroy infected cells.
Although there is still little public information on the virus, and some uncertainty whether the remaining trials will be a success, it is a huge milestone in our battle against COVID-19. It is impossible to know, yet, whether the vaccine would give lasting protection against coronavirus, or if it would be necessary to have a vaccine every year. It is also unknown whether this specific vaccine would be able to fend off potential future mutations of the virus.
As it stands, the new vaccine looks promising, offering hope to many who have spent a year without any. Further down the line, it may mean an end to lockdowns, and closed borders opened up once again.