3 May 2001
Blair to claim foot-and-mouth victory

By FWi staff

TONY Blair is set to announce that the battle against foot-and-mouth is nearly over in his first formal press conference on the crisis on Thursday (03 May).

The Prime Minster is expected to draw attention to falling numbers of new cases and the faster disposal of slaughtered animals in an upbeat assessment.

But it is also believed that Mr Blair will warn that there is no room for complacency as the epidemic enters its final stages.

Commentators widely believe this press briefing will pave the way for an announcement of a 7 June general election.

Conservative agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo said policy should not be relaxed until it is safe to do so merely because there may be an election coming up.

Mr Blair will be joined at Downing Street by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown, Chief Scientific Adviser David King and Chief Vet Jim Scudamore.

Meanwhile, Prof King has admitted that scientists are split over the best way to deal with foot-and-mouth, reports the Financial Times.

Prof King told the Commons scientific select committee there that was “very creative tension” between Government virologists and outside mathematicians.

He said the epidemic showed that ministers should make better use of scientists in dealing with national disasters as they can “inform politicians”.

Fears that foot-and-mouth may have been rife in Britain longer than officially stated appear to be receding, reports The Daily Telegraph.

French tests on sheep exported before the first case was confirmed on 20 February have returned negative.

Earlier tests had indicated they were exposed to antibodies as early as December.

And the same newspaper reports that Phoenix the calf which survived two attempts to cull her at Axminster, Devon, is set to star in a pantomime.

Phoenix has been offered a starring role in a production of Jack and the Beanstalk in Wimbledon, south London over Christmas.

Nine new cases of foot-and-mouth were confirmed on Wednesday (2 May), taking the UK total to 1538.

A total of 2,382,000 animals had been slaughtered and 118,000 awaited slaughter by Tuesday evening (01 May).

  • Financial Times, 03 May, 2001, page 2
  • The Daily Telegraph, 03 May, 2001, page 1 and 12

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