IT is, according to Ian Blackford, a “time for heroes”. It always is.

While the SNP’s Westminster leader was referring to the Euro football tournament and Scotland’s chances, heroes are needed on the diplomatic pitch - or should that be beach - and never more so than when the world is in peril.

Imagine how things would be at the G7 summit in sunny Cornwall if Donald Trump was still US President.

The reasonably relaxed, collegiate air - last night the leaders enjoyed a barbecue on the beach - would have been replaced with anxiety and acrimony.

The idea that the US would have committed to donating vaccines to poorer countries, no strings attached, would have been for the birds. Trump’s America First instinct would have meant he would have been asking how his country could have made as many bucks as possible out of the pandemic.

It was more out of a sense of relief Charles Michel, the European Council President, proudly declared as he arrived on the Cornish coast: “Multilateralism is back.”


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Indeed, Boris Johnson, brimming with bonhomie, declared how Joe Biden was a “breath of fresh air”.

The two leaders emulated Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt by signing a new version of the Atlantic Charter, which in 1941 set out goals for the post-WW2 world.

They have committed the UK and US to using their combined strength to overcome global challenges such as halting climate change and “building back better” from coronavirus as well as boosting security.

Yesterday, the leaders signed the Carbis Bay Declaration, which commits to: accelerating research into diseases that jump from animals to humans; cutting the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for any future disease to less than 100 days, and reinforcing global surveillance networks to identify and track new pandemic threats.

Another example of the new multilateralism is the commitment to provide what the Prime Minister described as a “colossal sum” of one billion vaccines to poorer countries, including America’s pledge of 500 million doses and Britain’s 100m in a bid to inoculate the world by the end of 2022.

Yet campaigners insist this is nowhere near enough.

Anna Marriott from Oxfam said 11 billion doses were needed to end the global pandemic but argued this would be impossible if G7 countries continued not to waive intellectual property rules and share vaccine technology.

“If the best G7 leaders can manage is to donate 1bn vaccine doses, then this summit will have been a failure,” she declared, noting: “The lives of millions of people in developing countries should never be dependent on the goodwill of rich nations and profit-hungry pharmaceutical corporations.”

Of course, the elephant on the beach has been China.

A White House briefing was said to have had the People’s Republic as its subtext to everything being discussed from economic competition in the recovery from Covid to climate change and human rights.

Recently, the US President warned how Beijing’s “belt and road” policy of investing in foreign infrastructure projects meant China was “going to eat our lunch”.

Washington is backing a plan for the West to provide financing for physical, digital and health infrastructure in the developing world as a response to what Kevin Rudd, ex-PM of Australia, described as Beijing’s “authoritarian capitalist model” being promoted across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Indeed, yesterday not only Australia but also India, South Korea and South Africa joined the G7 leaders at what some see as the birth of a new grouping, the D-11, as America leads the West in its battle of ideas and values with China.

But Lord Peter Ricketts, the former UK ambassador to France, acknowledged the G7 summit was trying to strike a “very difficult balance” between competing with China and also co-operating with it where necessary.


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He pointed out: "You can't have a pandemic warning radar system to spot future pandemics without China involved; you can't expect to meet the carbon reduction targets without China involved."

Of course, the black lining to the G7’s silver cloud was the Northern Ireland Protocol and the threat of a “sausage row” trade war with the EU.

On Friday, the leaders of the European bloc made a point of being photographed smiling together, insisting their position on the protocol was “unity” and urged pesky Britain to stand by its legal commitments.

Yesterday, after a round of tricky meetings with EU chiefs, Mr Johnson again insisted what was needed was “pragmatism and compromise on all sides,” and that he just needed to “get…into their heads” the UK was a single country.

This was after France’s Emmanuel Macron had told him bluntly the UK-France relationship could only be “reset” if he abided by the Brexit deal.

Earlier, Dominic Raab, in full diplomatic mode, urged Brussels not to be “bloody-minded” about the implementation of the UK-EU trade deal that has resulted in a trade border down the Irish Sea.

The Foreign Secretary warned that if the EU continued with its “purist” approach, then “we will not allow the integrity of the UK to be threatened”.

Later, the PM reiterated the point, which is code for unilaterally extending the grace periods on checks on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland, which in turn could mean the EU retaliating by slapping tariffs on certain imports; in other words, a trade war.

As the tide today goes out on the summit in Carbis Bay, Boris - preparing to announce a delay to Freedom Day on Monday because of the rising Covid cases - will now be looking to another set-piece international event in November in Glasgow at the climate change summit.

If the already-delayed COP26 does manage to take place – the low profile of Alok Sharma, its President, is feeding doubts that it will - then the big players, America and Europe, China and Russia, will have to step up to the plate; obfuscation, dithering and delay will just not do.

November in Scotland will be a most critical time for heroes.