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Coronavirus 1) Emergency laws planned

“Emergency laws to tackle coronavirus are being rushed in after the outbreak claimed its first British life yesterday. The measures will be announced next week to ensure public services and the transport network can keep operating if the crisis worsens. The unnamed British victim died in Japan after contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. He was one of 78 UK citizens on the vessel moored in Yokohama. Four more British cases were announced yesterday, bringing the total to 20…The new laws will include the ability to suspend maximum class sizes to allow teachers to take on pupils when colleagues are off sick. Lessons could take place outside schools.Ministers are also considering suspending laws that limit lorry drivers to 56 hours a week to stop supply chains collapsing if sickness levels rise. In a ‘worst case scenario’, military doctors could help in NHS hospitals.” – Daily Mail

  • Infection-control measures appear to be working – Financial Times
  • School exams could be plunged into chaos – The Times
  • A deadly wake up call – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

Coronavirus 2) PM’s plea to wash your hands

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson offers his condolences to the family of the British national who has died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He says the NHS is making ‘every possible preparation’ to deal with the virus but the ‘best single piece of advice we can give’ is to ‘wash your hands for 20 seconds or more’.” – BBC

  • Johnson needs to get a grip – Leader, The Sun
  • All we can do is prepare, wash our hands and wait – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Forsyth: Concern in Whitehall has “shot up”

“Over the past week, concern in Whitehall over the disease has shot up. “The infection curve in Italy and Germany has changed things,” says one of those spearheading the Government’s response. “We’re not far off it absorbing all of the Government’s energies,” one Downing Street figure tells me. The intensity of the preparations for it are, this source continues, “beginning to feel like No-Deal planning did in the autumn”, which dominated the time of ministers and civil servants. A No10 source tells me the, “advice from the experts is that it is getting more serious”. This has led to a shift in Government strategy. Downing Street has concluded that, “the time is now right for the PM to take a lead”. Next week will see the publication of a strategy for dealing with an outbreak here and a public information campaign urging people to take steps to stop the spread of the disease.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Coronavirus 4) Stock Exchanges plunge around the World

“World stock markets have suffered their worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 as coronavirus panic wiped $6 trillion from shares. Further heavy selling sent the FTSE 100 down 3.2 per cent yesterday, bringing its weekly loss to 11.1 per cent, as America’s Dow Jones industrial average shed as many as 1,085 points, before paring losses later on. Investors fear that the accelerating spread of covid-19 will lead to a pandemic that slows global economic growth. The number of confirmed infections worldwide rose by 1,359 on Thursday, faster than the 911 average of the previous five days. The World Health Organisation yesterday raised its global risk level for the virus to “very high” from “high”.” – The Times

Tax 1) Javid would have cut basic rate in the Budget by 2p

“Sajid Javid wanted to cut 2p from the basic rate of income tax in the budget he was due to announce, the former chancellor has revealed. Mr Javid was also pressing to reduce stamp duty and to offer generous reliefs for capital investment in a radical tax-cutting programme to have been unveiled next month. He resigned from the government two weeks ago after a dispute with Boris Johnson in the middle of the reshuffle. In an interview with The Times, Mr Javid, 50, said that he had wanted to send a “huge signal for working people” that the government was “absolutely on their side” with a series of aggressive cuts, including the first to the basic rate of income tax for 15 years. He intended to reduce the basic rate from 20p to 18p in the pound from April and to set an ambition to cut it to 15p by the end of the parliament.” – The Times

  • ‘It was black and white — I would have been absolutely humiliated’ – Interview with Sajid Javid, The Times
  • Sunak’s rapid rise in politics mirrors his time in the City – Financial Times

Tax 2) Griffith urges merging National Insurance with Income Tax

“Andrew Griffith, the former Sky executive appointed as the prime minister’s chief business tsar last summer, has urged the government to seize “tantalising and tangible” opportunities as Britain leaves the European Union. Whitehall risks failing to deliver at a critical time for the country if policymakers are “too timid in our ambition, too encumbered in our thinking and too slow to seize the opportunity”, he said. Among his recommendations is to harmonise income tax with national insurance. Mr Griffith, 49, who left No 10 upon his election as the Conservative MP for Arundel & South Downs in December, is still seen in boardrooms as a key conduit to Mr Johnson’s administration. He vowed this week to be a “radical and uninhibited voice” for business during a Westminster Hall debate in parliament in which he also suggested that civil servants be sent on a global “fact-finding” mission to examine regulation overseas. “It is my belief that, in the 21st century, huge benefits would flow from unifying the income tax and national insurance regimes, and from clarifying once and for all the ambiguities that lie around employment status,” Mr Griffith said.” – The Times

Williamson: Mobile phone ban can help school discipline

“Visit some of the country’s best performing schools, and you’ll notice that many of them have one thing in common: discipline. Across the UK, dedicated headteachers have been trying all sorts of common-sense solutions to curb unruly behaviour and low-level disruption in the classroom – with impressive results.Some have banned mobile phones, asking students to place them in lockers at the start of the day. Others, like the City of London Academies, have implemented lining up, with teachers quietly escorting pupils in some years to class after break and lunch….And of course, there’s Michaela, Britain’s “strictest school”.  Reading and writing exercises are conducted in silence, and pupils are given demerits for things like forgetting their pens or slouching in class. Last summer, Michaela’s pupils – many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds – famously triumphed in their GCSEs.” – Gavin Williamson, Daily Express

Cummings obtained contract from Johnson for special powers

“Dominic Cummings asked Boris Johnson to sign a contract giving him special powers in Downing Street, The Telegraph has learned. Although employed under the lowly title of “assistant to the Prime Minister”, Mr Cummings is understood to have a special agreement, believed to carry Mr Johnson’s signature, spelling out his authority over special advisers (SpAds). It also confirms his jurisdiction over other government projects such as ARPA,  the Tories’ pledge to recreate the United States’ Advanced Research Projects Agency in Britain…A Downing Street insider said: “Before he took the job, Dom made Boris sign a contract specifying what his powers were to be, that he would be allowed to hire and fire SpAds [and] confirming his authority over other key government projects.” Another source said the pair came to the agreement at a private meeting in Downing Street the Sunday after Mr Johnson won the Tory leadership race on July 23, when he asked Mr Cummings to be his right-hand man.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Symonds hires her own advisor – The Sun

EU 1) France warns against “artificial deadlines”

“The EU will not be pressurised by “artificial deadlines” in its post-Brexit trade talks with the UK, France’s Europe minister has warned. Amelie de Montchalin said the EU would not sign just “any” deal by the end of the year, saying “substance was much more important than deadlines”. The UK has said it could walk away from the talks in June unless there was the “broad outline” of an agreement. The process, to be conducted in English, will begin on Monday.” – BBC

  • Dispute over what to call the sessions – The Times

>Today:

EU 2) Thatcher’s “No, no, no” to Delors was prompted by Johnson

“Margaret Thatcher’s infamous “No, no, no” retort to Jacques Delors, a historic moment in the UK’s relationship with Europe, which also had the effect of precipitating her downfall, was partly inspired by an article penned by a young journalist named Boris Johnson, her newly released private papers show. In 1990, 30 years before Johnson took the UK out of the European Union, an article he penned as the Telegraph’s EC (European Community) correspondent warning of the threat the EC posed to national sovereignty was in Thatcher’s briefing pack as she delivered the combative speech to parliament.” – The Guardian

EU 3) Parris: Frost should have left himself room for manoeuvre

“A good negotiator leaves a little room for manoeuvre, stands a little back from himself. But for Mr Frost this is personal, and for Britain he regards it as almost existential. The Burkean terms in which he expresses himself admit no compromise, no uncertainties and no backsliding. This is not — and here I believe him — an opening position. It’s a line from which there can be no honourable retreat. Or not for him, anyway. Civil servants are, of course, expendable. If Boris Johnson decides to compromise, David Frost can be cast aside and he would hardly be the first to have the ground cut from beneath his feet. But I think after reading this speech that he would have to be cast aside violently and would then become a hero to the Tory right. He has defined himself, rather unintelligently, not as a professional and dispassionate negotiator but a protagonist. This is unusual. It does not bode well.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • Johnson’s red lines prove he is going for a second round Brexit knockout – Rupert Lowe, Daily Telegraph

Courts “could block road building” for breaking climate change targets

“Boris Johnson’s £30billion road building plan could be killed off by eco activists in the wake of the Heathrow Airport ruling. The PM has vowed to overhaul Britain’s pot-hole filled roads as part of his mission to transform the country’s infrastructure.But ministers did not take into account the UK’s climate change targets when drawing up the policy, the BBC reported. The revelation came a day after judges ruled that plans for Heathrow’s third runway are unlawful because ministers did not consider the 2016 Paris climate deal. It means No10 could face a lengthy and expensive court battle to deliver on their promise to beef up Britain’s infrastructure. Tory MP and ex Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt said it was “bonkers” all major infrastructure projects are now being thrown into doubt.” – The Sun

  • ‘Boris Bridge’ and second phase of HS2 could be under threat – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The real question isn’t which airport we build, but how to get better at building anything

Corbyn backs Long-Bailey with video message

“Jeremy Corbyn has appeared in a campaign video for Rebecca Long-Bailey, in an apparent show of support for her bid to replace him as Labour leader. In the video, posted on Twitter, Mr Corbyn promised he would give the shadow business secretary his “absolute support” if she wins the contest. He has not appeared in campaign videos for her leadership rivals, Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy. Members began voting earlier this week, with the result announced on 4 April. Mr Corbyn has also appeared in a campaign video for shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, one of five candidates for the deputy leader position.” – BBC

Scottish Government chops down 14 million trees to make way for wind farms

“Nearly14 million trees have been chopped down across Scotland to make way for wind turbines. The Scottish Government expects to be generate 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources this year – but concerns have been raised about finding a balance between green energy and sustaining forests. Now statistics, released by Forestry and Land Scotland, show that 13.9 million trees have been axed to make way for 21 wind farm projects since 2000. Six of the wind farms have been built in Argyle and Bute and three apiece in both Dumfries and Galloway and East Ayrshire.” – The Herald

Eco protest criticised for destroying the lawn at College Green in Bristol

“Greta Thunberg was slammed by angry social media users, after the College Green in Bristol was turned into a sea of mud at the end of the Bristol climate strike rally on Thursday.The strike was organised by Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate (BYS4C) and attracted at least 15,000 people, who gathered on College Green in the rain and wind to hear the young Swedish environmentalist deliver her speech…However, when BBC Bristol later posted pictures of a brown, muddy trampled College Green lawn after the crowds had dispersed, furious locals took to Twitter to accuse Ms Thunberg of hypocrisy and having scant regard for the environment.” – Daily Express

  • Greta Thunberg’s Green Disciples – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail

Moore: The real establishment ring is the one that gave credence to vile sex abuse lies

This week, IICSA, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, published its “Investigation Report” entitled Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Linked to Westminster. Its most reported conclusion was that it had found no evidence of a “Westminster paedophile network”….Yes, IICSA now acknowledges that the central Beech/Watson claim was wholly untrue. But would it ever have done so if others had not fought hard for justice, in the face of police, political and media pressure? Would Mr Watson, perhaps, have been the next leader of the Labour Party?” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • Police watchdog will get powers to reopen police misconduct probes following Scotland Yard’s shambolic VIP child sex abuse inquiry – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • The most dangerous thing about coronavirus is the hysteria – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • There is the issue of fairness related to efficacy in the response to coronavirus – John Redwood
  • Coronavirus: reasons to be cheerful – James Sproule, CapX
  • How could coronavirus affect Matt Hancock’s career? – Tom Peck, Independent
  • A “no deal” Brexit is back – Paul Waugh, Huffington Post

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