Robert's Weekly Column - 6th May 2020

This Friday we mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day when the Second World War came to an end in Europe.

Although three-quarters of a century have passed since Winston Churchill’s memorable broadcast announcing the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law which were the basis of our resistance and ultimate victory are as important today as they ever were.

Many of us, me included, have or had family members who served in that conflict and it is a shame that we are unable as a country to celebrate we any form of mass gathering, but there are still plenty of ways you can get involved. I shall be at home singing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and other classics from the era! For more information, please visit: https://www.veday75.org/get-involved

As we face a new and different challenge in the form of coronavirus, one against the British people are being asked to dig deep and come together. The Prime Minister on Monday hosted a major international conference to drive forward the global race for coronavirus vaccines, treatments and tests – and to call on other countries to step up their efforts and work together on the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetime.

The Government has pledged £338 million for research into these vaccines, tests and treatments – which is part of a larger £744 million commitment to help end the pandemic. This includes £250 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop vaccines against coronavirus – the largest such donation to the fund by any country.

As the Prime Minister rightly said, to win this battle, we must work together to build an impregnable shield around all our people, and that can only be done by developing and mass producing a vaccine. The more we pull together and share our expertise, the faster our scientists will succeed. The race to discover the vaccine is not a competition between countries, it’s humanity against the virus – we are in this together, and together we will prevail.

Here in Swindon, the amazing volunteers at Dressability have made and delivered over one thousand items of PPE to care homes, the Great Western Hospital and Prospect Hospice over the past month. They have made masks, coronavirus testing sleeves and moisture proof gowns, after the decision was made not to furlough sewing staff so that they could support the local community. I am sure I speak for all of us when I say thank you to Dressability for their efforts in helping to protect our key workers from coronavirus.

There are hidden thousands for whom the current lockdown has been nothing short of an inescapable nightmare. It has turned a daily risk into a constant threat. I am, of course, talking about the victims of domestic abuse. Last week I wrote about my work as Justice Secretary in spearheading the Domestic Abuse Bill and taking it through its second reading in Parliament. This week I am proud that we have announced an unprecedented £76 million package of emergency funding for victims, designed to boost the services that continue to provide vital front-line support in these most difficult of times.