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Lockdown 3 begins, exams are cancelled, Brexit road jams fail to materialise, protesters storm the Capitol - here's our political editor's take on the week


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While politicians and voters may be craving for some normality after last year, the omens are that we are in for an equally tempestuous 12 months.

Our political editor Paul Francis wraps up the big stories of the week.

Protesters in Washington DC. Picture: Julio Cortez/AP
Protesters in Washington DC. Picture: Julio Cortez/AP

White House down

If you switched on the TV at some point on Tuesday evening, you might have thought you had stumbled across a political thriller.

Scenes of protestors marching on Capitol Hill brandishing flags and pro-Donald Trump placards and senators barricaded in the chamber, cowering under seats, while security guards drew their guns were gripping but horrifying at the same time.

But this was not fiction. The seat of American democracy was under siege in real life.

Welcome to the new normal.

The roads leading to the port were quiet this week - but the new systems will be fully tested over the weeks ahead
The roads leading to the port were quiet this week - but the new systems will be fully tested over the weeks ahead

Highway to hell?

Fear of traffic mayhem around the Channel ports as Brexit became official were not, oddly, realised.

After the pre-Christmas blockade and subsequent gridlock, some predicted there would be similar scenes of traffic Armageddon, only there weren’t - disappointing for journalists but relief for the port and Eurotunnel, hauliers and residents.

It's even led to the leader of Kent County Council Roger Gough saying there are some promising signs.

So let’s hope the signs are not ones that divert traffic away from the M20 to lorry parks.

The government has confirmed GCSE, AS and A-level exams have been cancelled this year
The government has confirmed GCSE, AS and A-level exams have been cancelled this year

Oh The Hokey Cokey

Schools put their left foot in the door marked open - quickly followed by putting their right foot in the door marked closed.

As U-turns go, announcing the closure of all schools barely a few hours after the PM insisted many would stay open was up there for being among the most predictable.

It was left to the hapless Gavin Williamson, the natural successor to Chris Grayling, to defend the abrupt about-turn.

At least he had the good grace to say that the government had listened to teachers rather than algorithms.

Folkestone town centre after the third lockdown was brought in. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Folkestone town centre after the third lockdown was brought in. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Locked down

The government dispensed with tiers and ordered a third national lockdown - yes, third - as the way forward to address the chronic rise and mutant variations of the virus.

A small number of Conservatives rebelled and if others had reservations they kept them to themselves - possibly aware that the public was generally resigned to the idea.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country was in a race to get to the finishing line in a sprint with the vaccine.

Social scene

The riots and invasion of Capitol Hill triggered renewed criticisms of social media giants to act more swiftly on those using their platforms to spread disinformation and agitate for action.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins was among the critics, saying: “We have to recognise that this sort of disinformation is dangerous to democracy and we have seen a live example of what happens if that goes unchecked.

"If the president is the ring leader and is the person who is directing this activity and encouraging it, then the social media platforms have to close off those channels."

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

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