Rishi Sunak holds crisis Cobra meetings amid winter fears

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Rishi Sunak has reportedly held a series of Cobra meetings with ministers and officials over how to deal with a mounting number of potential crises. The Government fears that issues such as energy shortages, NHS and other public sector strikes, the war in Ukraine and possible floods could all hit the UK at the same time and leave the country extra vulnerable.

‘Stress test’ preparations have also been carried out in order to test responses to any potential disasters.

Some planning sessions have been held in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, also known as Cobra meetings, which have become associated with the response to terror attacks and other national crises.

Cobra meetings initially got their name due to them being held in Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.

On Tuesday morning the Cabinet was briefed on contingency plans for the possibly difficult winter months, reported The Telegraph.

Mr Sunak has acknowledged that there are “challenging” times ahead, as Health Secretary Steve Barclay reported that the NHS waiting lists have left over 400,000 people waiting more than 52 weeks for an operation.

One line of the official summary read: “Looking ahead to winter, the Prime Minister said this would be a challenging period for the country caused by the aftershocks of the global pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.”

Alongside the NHS waiting lists, a number of hospital staff including nurses, paramedics, cleaners and porters are said to be planning industrial action around Christmas.

Other public sector strikes from the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) have been announced across December and January, after a year in which union leaders have been at loggerheads with the Government over working conditions and pay.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary said: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.”

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “No-one can deny the precarious financial hole in which the railway finds itself. Striking makes that hole bigger and the task of finding a resolution ever more difficult.

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“Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer.

“And while progress has been made over these last two weeks, we still have yet to find that breakthrough.

“We will not give-up and hope that the RMT will return to the table with a more realistic appreciation of the situation.”

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